Short stays may be coming your way, but they won’t necessarily be ‘naughty’
Of all the elephants in the room, I’m about to unearth perhaps the biggest in our sector. A recent article in The Times charted the rise of the ‘dirty weekend’, or ‘dirty pause after work’ as it is often rather unceremoniously referred to.
Why focus on something so utterly immoral and seedy, you may ask? Well, it appears there could be something of a revolution heading our way, if the French are to be believed.
Philanderers across the channel have long enjoyed the habit of booking hotel rooms for stays of just a few hours in the afternoon in order to undertake a discreet encounter before returning to the family home. There’s even a website that has been created to make such stays easily accessible: Dayuse.com.
However, experts insist that such short stays are not the sole endeavour of those sneaking around behind their partners’ backs. Other common uses include business meetings and weary travellers looking for a bolthole whilst waiting for a flight. What’s more, Maud Chabanier, a spokeswoman for Dayuse.com, insists that their venture is “revolutionising the hotel industry”, although admits it also facilitates the occasional ‘illegitimate’ encounter.
So, is Maud right? Are we going to see an influx of ultra short stays in the UK? The statistics are enticing; it is estimated that around seventy percent of hotel rooms are vacant during the day time. I bet, like most accommodation business owners, you focus on dead bed space and toil over the thought of empty rooms each night, but perhaps that space could be used in other ways. After all, with corporate budgets still squeezed, there are likely to be plenty of business people looking to hold a confidential meeting without spending big on conference facilities.
Publicly advertising day rates has always been a prickly subject for the very reason stated at the top of this article. Hoteliers and B&B owners value their businesses and brand reputation and quite understandably do not want it to be tainted by questionable use of their rooms. That said, and as with any new trend, this is certainly one to watch.
Title: The future of in-room TV
Think about it. The last time you stayed in a hotel, did you reach for the TV remote? Being a bit of a geek and a product of my generation, I rarely do. I’m far more likely to grab my iPad and head for the BBC iPlayer app.
This has sparked a number of interesting debates at Welcome Systems towers, not least of which centres around a question I would bet you’ve asked yourself recently: do guests still need TVs?
The cost of adding viewing gear to rooms – whilst having decreased of late – is still a relatively large investment, as is the on-going concern of TV licences and satellite subscriptions. But what does the future hold for in-room TV? Is it becoming a thing of the past?
‘The future of TV is apps,’ said Apple’s Tim Cook at a product launch last year. I think he’s hit on something, but I’m afraid it doesn’t mean you can cancel that order you’ve just placed for those six flatscreen TVs. Your future guests will likely still want a big screen, but they’ll also expect connectivity and à la carte content.
A nice fast broadband connection, a TV which is able to accept connections from smartphones and tablets and on-demand content is the future of in-room entertainment. Why? Well, many people’s daily viewing habits already rely on those three elements. Netflix, which enables users to access a colossal library of films and TV series whenever they wish is estimated to have over 4 million UK subscribers and with TV icons such as the old Top Gear crew moving to Amazon’s streaming service, à la carte viewing will only get more popular.
I’d advise starting small. Ensure you’ve installed the fastest internet connection available to your property and, if you can, purchase ‘smart’ TVs which will feature built-in access to the likes of Netflix. Guests will thank you for doing so and you’ll have laid the groundwork for the guests of the future.
Title: No WiFi? Refreshing, for a while…
During Christmas last year, we travelled as a family to the beautiful Norfolk coast. Seeking quiet dog walks, bracing strolls across deserted beaches and the embracing warmth of cozy pubs, we headed to our destination of choice – a lovely little cottage.
It was perfect. Spacious, happy to accommodate two (relatively well-behaved) dogs and was clearly kept to a high-standard cleanliness-wise. The website photos were accurate and the owner had ensured everything was ready for our arrival.
Being the sole geek of the party, the first thing I did was grab my tablet and embark on a search for the nearest WiFi hotspot. So remote was the location that our smartphones only registered the dimmest of ‘GPRS’ connections which, as we all know, are barely strong enough to cope with Ceefax.
I found nothing. Zilch. No connection to the digital realm. And, at first – after a brief bit of huffing – I forgot about it. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say; let’s enjoy being ‘away from it all’.
The trouble is, it quickly became evident that I rely on the internet for a whole lot more than email and mindless Facebook trawling. The ability to communicate with friends during NYE on WhatsApp, or satisfying the urge to check what other films the kid from Billy Elliot had been in were no longer a tap away. Planning further walks and sussing out local amenities was also tricky. It all became rather restrictive.
Before you reach for the violin (to presumably smash over my head), my experience at that cottage will be similar to many who pay it a visit. The internet has become far more than simply a means by which to bypass traditional forms of human interaction and research. It has intrinsically woven itself into our lives more than we perhaps realise and there’s nothing wrong with expecting near-instant access to any form of data.
I’m not the kind to head for TripAdvisor after holidays, but if I had on this occasion, the lack of WiFi would have been the one thing I’d have cited as a reason not to return. And that’s a great shame. We didn’t check before we travelled, but you can bet many others will do just that, and they’re the guests the property owners have lost as customers.
If your B&B is lacking good WiFi, you’re likely inadvertently missing out on new and returning customers. Get connected!