Thought Leadership

Hotel pros and cons and why I forget

By Colin Walls

I stay in a lot of hotels. In general, it is not an exciting experience. People, whom I encounter, who have no experience of business travel, think that it is like being on vacation all the time. Staying in a hotel is generally an OK experience. Indeed, I find most hotels amazingly forgettable – possibly within minutes of checking out. For the most part, I only remember a hotel if it is very bad [and there have been a handful of those over the years] or it is exceptionally good [and, I am pleased to say, a few are].

However, I might remember a place because they made a brave effort …

This week I am traveling and stayed in a couple of hotels. One of them [which I am not going to name or even say which city it is in] was, for the most part very nice. The room was comfortable, there was a bar with a reasonable atmosphere and a health suite with a nice pool. Overall, there was nothing to complain about. But what makes a hotel special is its attention to detail and a few things stand out in this place.

Internet connectivity in hotels is very variable. I expect to get a reasonable WiFi connection at no charge and I am rarely too disappointed nowadays. This hotel offered a free service, with limited performance, but it was good enough for me. I connected with my iPad and it required me to enter my room number and name. Once I was connected, I never needed to log in again. So far, so good – it is very hassle free. I connected my phone too and that was fine. Later, when I went to connect my laptop, the system announced that I could only connect two devices to the free service. I thought that this was an unreasonable constraint. I am unlikely to be using the Internet from more than one device at any time. I was traveling alone, but, if I travel with my wife, I can easily imagine us having 7 Internet connected devices between us and I do not think that we are particularly unusual.

Although I like hotels which have contactless keys, which just need to be in close proximity to the lock, this place had the next best thing – a swipe card. These are just fine when they work and mine did work flawlessly. I was surprised, when I first tried to charge something to my room, to be asked for my key card in stead of my name and room number. They swiped it and a check was printed which included my name and room number. This was quick and efficient, which was pleasing. However, I realized that the design has a fatal flaw. If I lost my key or it was stolen, until I noticed and reported the loss [which could be a while], someone could easily make charges to my room, as I did not see how they could verify a signature. Worse still, having made a charge, the illegal possessor of my key would see them room number on the check and pay a visit. Although I never assume that a hotel room is impregnable, this would be rather too easy.

There is some good news. They fixed something that I find very irritating. At almost all hotels, to request “Do not disturb”, I need to hang a card on my door handle. These almost always blow off as I open the door and I have to bend down to replace it. Not a big deal, but annoying nevertheless. These guys have the problem nailed. Above the door handle is a small magnetic disk.

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On the top of the DND card, there is another one.

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The magnet is powerful enough to hold the card in place however briskly I opened the door.

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Well, at least they got something right …

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This article first appeared on the Siemens Digital Industries Software blog at