Last month I toured a room at the Hilton Garden Inn LAX / El Segundo where Hilton tries new technology on overnight guests.
The touch screen made sense and was a cinch to work, once I found it and learned what it was.
"The idea was to be as easy as we can, with one common interface," said Jami Messinger, manager of hotel operations technology.
The clock-radio, a Bose model, was a bit confusing. Naked of controls, it was run by a small remote unit. I fumbled a bit, then finally set the radio alarm. But neither Messinger nor I could figure out whether it had a buzzer alarm.
Easy to use or not, more gizmos will be packed into hotel rooms in coming years, said Christian Strobel, vice president of strategy and business development for Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a San Francisco-based chain of boutique hotels.
"It's really being driven by the rise of Generation X," he said. "I call them technology babies." The average Gen Xer, he added, now spends more money per trip than the average baby boomer. They want their MTV and more.
How about a noise-cancellation canopy over the bed? Or images projected onto the walls and ceiling that make you feel as though you're sleeping under the stars in the Himalayas? Or a control unit that starts your coffeemaker and draws a bath when the morning alarm goes off?
These were among ideas floated in February in Laguna Beach at an industry brainstorming session, dubbed the "Hotel of Tomorrow" project, said Ron Swidler, senior vice president at the Gettys Group, a Chicago-based hotel interior design company.
Personally, I'm for anything that gets the coffeemaker going.
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