Month: November 2014

Marriott Hotels introduces high tech Virtual Reality Travel experiences

Marriott Hotels recently introduced two virtual reality travel experiences dubbed “Get Teleported” at the New York Marriott Marquis, and cities such as Boston, Washington, D.C., and Dallas. The new high tech experience was offered for 3 minutes at a time and available on site for a few days before moving to another hotel property. The virtual tours included a trip to downtown London another trip to Maui, Hawaii, both of which were highly interactive including flying above sky scrapers and touring sandy beaches.

The experiences were offered in enclosures much like phone booths, employing a virtual reality headset, wireless phones, and high-tech audiovisual capabilities, including 3D live-action video and 4D sensory effects heat, wind, and mist.

Michael Dail, VP of Brand Marketing at Marriott Hotels, states that Marriott aims to offer “destination sampling” allowing customers to virtually “visit locations before purchasing trips to those locations,” Dail points out, virtual reality is able to provide dynamic, engaging travel experiences that can’t be adequately conveyed in static print brochures and other conventional travel marketing materials. For example, the ability of users to “feel the heat of the sun” in some of these experiences “adds a whole new dimension” to those experiences.

The above excerpts are ones I reviewed on another blog, as I follow the hospitality / hotel industry and large chains closely. While I find this highly interesting, and a huge leap for technology in the hotel world, I do think that it is a slightly unnecessary investment. That being said, I definitely would not turn down the chance to try a virtual vacation!

Forbes Article: Why using Business Center Computer is Dangerous (SurferQuest solves security concerns)

The reason I am posting this article from Forbes about the dangers of using hotel business center computers is because it very directly highlights the need for security software like SurferQuest.

SurferQuest not only provides protection against viruses and malicious use but additionally protects against the very thing this article warns of, key loggers.

After each use, SQ erases all left behind content, including credit card numbers, pass words, browser history, downloads, etc. This protects the hotels investment against virus damage, and protects each user against theft of their personal information.

An individual could install a key logger, but the moment their session ends, it is gone. And sessions end after each use. USB ports can also be disabled against hardware key loggers.

For $149 a year, hotels can offer ease of mind and protection during use.

Full Article Below:

Why You Should Never Use A Hotel Business Center Computer

“Several major hotel chains in the Dallas/Fort Worth area were the target of cybercriminals who utilized low-cost key logging software to steal sensitive data and guest information from hotel guests who used business center computers. The criminal operation highlights why hotel guests should never use business center computers , as the systems are difficult to secure against even the most rudimentary cybercrimes.

The Secret Service noted that the attacks, while not sophisticated, and requiring little technical skill, nevertheless allowed the criminals to “access a physical system, stealing sensitive data from hotels and subsequently their guest’s information.” The Secret Service noted that the criminals were “able to obtain large amounts of information including other guests personally identifiable information (PII), log in credentials to bank, retirement and personal webmail accounts, as well as other sensitive data flowing through the business center’s computers.”

While security professionals know that publicly accessible computers like those in hotel business centers are extremely vulnerable to cyber criminals, hotel guests nevertheless frequently use such computers to log into work and personal email accounts, file storage systems such as Dropbox, and even bank accounts. Because many individuals use the same username and password for multiple accounts, criminals who are able to steal the credentials for one account may be able to use those credentials to access dozens of other accounts. Users of public computers jeopardize the security of the accounts they access by using public computers, a fact illustrated by this announcement that a group of individuals were arrested in North Texas after compromising the business center computers in several major hotel chains in the Dallas/Fort Worth area.”

USA Today Article: Hotels adapt business centers for today’s traveler

The following article is one that I came across on USA Today. The article quotes representatives of Marriott and Crowne Plaza, and references other major hotel brands such as IHG, Wyndham, Westin and Kimpton all as supporters of the continued offer of business center computers and services in today’s hotels. With guests able to stay connected anywhere through the use of smart phones, laptops and other gadgets the business center is still an important fixture. The traveler in this article is quoted as stating that he will not stay at a hotel that does not offer a business center.

Article Below:

“Jeff Pearce rarely takes advantage of the hotel business center when he travels for work. When he does, it’s usually to print out a boarding pass.

Yet the Fayetteville, Ga., resident, who owns a water and wastewater service company, wouldn’t want to stay somewhere that didn’t have a business center.

“When I need something, I absolutely need it and do not want to have to go to Kinko’s,” says Pearce, a USA TODAY Road Warrior, a panel of frequent travelers who weigh in on travel topics.

The business center was once the only place where travelers could stay connected. Now travelers can stay connected anywhere and everywhere.

“I think the need fundamentally has diminished,” says Matthew Carroll, vice president of Global Brand Management for Marriott Hotels & Resorts. People are “traveling with their own technology, whether a laptop or tablet. Even the need to print a boarding pass is going away when you consider that with major airlines, you can check in with an app on a mobile device.”

But is the business center going away? Not quite. Most hotels, including Marriott, are reluctant to completely give up on the business center. According to the American Hotel and Lodging Association, 88% of hotels polled in 2012 still had business centers, especially if the hotel was upscale.

Rather than do away with the amenity, hotels are trying to adapt the business center for the modern-day traveler. Many are installing wireless printers so that guests can print from anywhere in the hotel. They are also bringing the business center out into the open so they can flow into the common coffeehouse-like areas that travelers now prefer. And they’re outfitting them with more comfortable furniture, so people feel like they’re working in a living room rather than an office.

Some examples:

•Wyndham Hotel Group recently launched a prototype that integrates the business center into the lobby. Computers are available in more open multipurpose spaces with free Wi-Fi and comfortable furniture.

•The Westin Hotels and Resorts last year launched a flexible work space called Tangent that is used in place of the traditional business center in some locations and as a supplement in others. The furniture can be organized in different configurations to accommodate meetings. There is also technology for videoconferencing.

•Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants have re-adapted old pay-phone banks into small partitioned workstations.

•InterContinental Hotels Group’s new EVEN hotels, a wellness brand set to debut this year, will have a Hot Desk rather than traditional business center. The desk will have two laptops. Guests will be able to print wirelessly from the laptops or their own devices.

•IHG’s Crowne Plaza is letting guests wirelessly print to the business center from anywhere in the hotel. There is also complimentary Wi-Fi and single sign-on access for the length of the stay, meaning once you check in and log on, you don’t have to log off until you check out.

“We do know there is still a need to provide that functionality in the hotel, and we’re continuing to do that,” says Gina LaBarre, vice president of brand management for Crowne Plaza. “We want to make sure our guests are as productive as possible.””