Making connections: Hospitality internet trends in Vegas

Posted by on Feb 23rd, 2012 and filed under Featured, Hotels. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

Reliable internet access is extremely important in this day and age. For both leisure and business travelers, it’s become a basic need. Could you live offline – even for just a weekend? Fortunately, in Las Vegas, you won’t have to try. The city’s hotels and motels offer an array of options that will keep you and your mobile devices connected to the web.

Technological advances are among the most important trends driving the hospitality industry in 2012. While many resorts still provide wired ethernet (i.e., a cable that you can plug into your computer), wireless networks have become the norm. With visitors wanting to communicate and download materials from their rooms, it’s been a challenge for resorts to increase bandwidth and improve service standards – but it’s one they have risen to.

In addition to property-wide internet access, the Business Center at the Riviera offers guests usage of computers connected to the internet.

For example, upgrading internet capabilities was among the top goals of the Bellagio’s recent room renovation project. More than $70 million was spent during a six-month makeover in the resort’s main tower completed in January. The internet can now be conveniently and easily used by guests in all of its 2,568 rooms.

“Evolving the technology aspect of the rooms was one of the big things that we wanted to achieve,” said Michael Downs, the vice president of hotel operations at Bellagio. “In each room, we added a 40-inch HD TV and an internet hub underneath the TV that allows our guests to stay connected while they’re here. It handles all devices. There are some internet capabilities on the side of the desk too.”

Likewise, Caesars Palace had technology in focus while designing the $1 billion Octavius Tower. The 665 rooms in the resort’s sixth tower, which also opened in January, boast superlative connectivity through “MediaHubs.” Featuring advanced plug-in capabilities via USB, VGA, HDMI, iDock and other audiovisual options, guests can now watch videos, play music, browse the internet, check email, give presentations and much more. The technology is so advanced that the MediaHub automatically senses when a device has been connected to it and switches to the correct input. Plus, it works with popular sites like Pandora, Netflix, Hulu and Keynote.

“We’ve had a great response from guests in regards to the MediaHub,” said Stephen Thayer, the director of hotel operations at Caesars Palace.

Caesars Palace recently launched an exclusive web application in its new Octavius Tower.

An exclusive web application was also created for Octavius Tower. Upon arrival, guests have immediate access to the high-touch service directory, which brings all of Caesars Palace’s offerings directly to their fingertips. Accessible through any mobile browser, the web application makes direct communication with concierge, housekeeping, room service, transportation, valet, bell and butler staff possible.

“It was designed to be user-friendly and maximize convenience for hotel guests,” said Thayer. “Currently, the app is only available to Octavius Tower guests. However, future plans may incorporate this type of technology into accommodations at Augustus Tower, Octavius’ sister tower.  We also have plans to launch a completely new technology package with the opening of the world’s first Nobu Hotel this fall.”

Other hotels have been taking internet access seriously as well. Since travelers have different expectations and expertise regarding the web, problems may arise when they try to get online away from home. Whenever guests at The Cosmopolitan have difficulty connecting to the resort’s property-wide Wi-Fi network, they can contact Beck & Call (by dialing “0”) and be transferred to a team that’s dedicated to internet connectivity issues.

In addition, travelers’ usage of the internet while on vacation varies greatly. People in Las Vegas on business like to be online as much as possible, whereas other tourists are happy just to check their email once a while. That’s why wireless internet access is often on hand in public areas – like lobbies, bars and pools – as well as in the rooms.

Hotel business centers are another great place to connect. They typically house several computer terminals. More often than not, guests are charged a minimum fee for the first 10 to 15 minutes of access and then a premium rate for each additional minute. Payment can be made by credit card at the time of use or by other arrangements through the hotel. Wireless networks and laptop docking cables are commonly provided in business centers as well.

Starbucks at The Westin Las Vegas Hotel, Casino & Spa is one of many locations where wireless internet is available free of charge in the city.

Finally, wireless internet access is widespread in restaurants and cafés, including the popular coffee shop chains Starbucks, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf and Seattle’s Best Coffee. Getting online in these places is complimentary, although a food or beverage purchase is expected.

Of course, with technology evolving quickly, travelers are looking for the best value options in terms of internet usage. Free internet access is rapidly becoming expected as an essential resort amenity, akin to soap and air conditioning. Many of the smaller hotel and motel chains already provide internet access without cost. Among these are Americas Best Value Inn and Suites, the Clarion Hotel and Casino, the Continental Suites, Days Inn Las Vegas, Hyatt Place, Super 8 Koval and Travelodge Center Strip.

Several of Las Vegas’ major resorts – including all of the MGM Resorts International properties, most of the Station Casinos properties, time-honored hotels like the Riviera and Tropicana, and elegant retreats such as Wynn Las Vegas, Encore, The Venetian and The Palazzo –  have opted to incorporate internet access as part of their daily resort fees. This means no additional cost is incurred by guests on top of what is already required to stay in the room. Other resorts do have additional charges associated with internet usage that tend to range from $9.99 to $24.99 per device for a 24-hour period.

For more detailed information on internet access at Las Vegas-area resorts, check out VEGAS.com’s Internet Services chart.

(Note: The information provided on this chart is subject to change without prior notification. Please phone or email the hotel you are staying at directly to confirm pricing and internet offerings.)

Renee LiButti

Renee was born in Las Vegas, so instead of a 24-hour party and gambling town, Sin City just feels like home to her. Since graduating from UNLV, she has worked for a variety of books, magazines and websites in Las Vegas as well as in far-off cities like Dublin, London and Dubai. Renee has been with Vegas.com since April 2010 covering hotels, gaming, clubs and bars. A cup of tea and a good book will forever be two of her favorite things.

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