More Hotels Add iPads in Guest Rooms, Common Areas

Hotel Tablet Travel
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Hotels are increasingly giving guests a reason not to pick up the phone or wait in lines once they check in.

How? By installing hotel-owned iPads not only in guest rooms, but in public spaces such as lounges or lobbies.

Here's a breakdown of hotel chains and independent properties sporting Apple's tablet, plus top ways they're being used:

Starwood's Aloft hotels. The hotel giant's edgy, mid-priced Aloft chain inked a deal to install mounted iPads powered by Intelity in Aloft hotel lobbies.

The tablets already can be found in Aloft locations in Phoenix, Charlotte, Austin and Chennai, India, said Intelity spokesman Phil Schwartz.

Lobby iPads could help guests avoid waiting in line for concierge services at peak times.

Kimpton's boutique hotels. The San Francisco-based boutique hotel operator rolled out iPad kiosks in its lobbies this fall . They'll be in every Kimpton hotel by the end of this year, the company says.

The iPads let guests perform a variety of tasks such as reading restaurant and nightclub recommendations from hotel staffers; sharing photos of their trip; discovering hotel information such as when the evening wine hour or employee-led runs will be held, and printing out boarding passes before running to the airport. (Read more: Kimpton Hotels Offers Guests In-Room 'Guppy Love')

Hilton Worldwide's luxury Conrad hotels. Some of the 20 Conrad hotels around the world stock rooms with iPads for guests. You'll find them, for instance, in the suites in the Lower Manhattan and Indianapolis Conrad locations, Intelity's Schwartz says. But Hilton's taking a different approach to the iPad craze.

Last week, the chain unveiled an app that connects Conrad guests' personal iPads to all hotel services at any Conrad hotel worldwide. A guest, for example, will now be able to book a hotel room, spa treatment and restaurant reservation at the Conrad in Chicago from either their personal tablet or the in-room iPad at the Conrad in Miami. (Read more: Road Warrior Tested: Conrad Dublin)

Hyatt's Lex 48 in New York. The Lex 48 has three iPads for guests that are kept in the hotel's lounge. They're regularly wiped clean throughout the day by lounge staffers, says Deirdre Yack, the hotel's director of sales and marketing.

"It's a nice alternative to our business center, as they can bring them to their room, or relax on the sofas in the lounge," Yack says. "We mostly see them using iPads for social media — i.e. checking in on Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare — and for reading newspapers. People really seem to appreciate the iPad access."

The Revere Hotel in Boston. When this hotel opened in April, space near the concierge desk was left vacant specifically to hold wall-mounted iPads, says general manager Simon Mais.

By January, six wall-mounted iPads with special software will be installed. Guests will be able to use them to find local information, discover restaurant recommendations, find directions, and perform activities such as printing their boarding pass.

"Our concierge is so busy," Mais said, that customers can avoid waiting in line by at least starting to research their questions on the iPad. Foreigners who don't speak English won't be left out since the software is available in six languages, he says.

The Revere decided against installing individual iPads in guest room partly because of costs and partly because there was a concern about how well they were working in guest rooms, Mais says.

"In some cases, the technology wasn't as consistent as we'd like, so we opted not to go that route," he said, although he thinks the trend is moving in that direction.

SLS Hotel South Beach in Miami. At the SLS Hotel South Beach, which opened this summer next to the iconic Delano, guests find an iPad in every room next to their bed. Software lets guests communicate with the hotel. They can, for instance, buy a bottle of bubbly, make reservations at The Bazaar restaurant by chef Jose Andres, request their car from the valet and print their boarding pass at the front desk.

Travelers Top 3 Activities With Hotel iPads?

Intelity, which runs iPad systems in about 120 hotels, this fall analyzed how hotel guests used the devices over the last two years. The Top 3 uses specifically as it relates to hotel services, according to Intelity's analysis:

1. Ordering room service — 41 percent of total transactions
2. Requesting wake-up calls — 21 percent
3. Requesting housekeeping — 7 percent

Earlier this year, Hotel Check-In reported how the deluxe Hotel Bel-Air in Beverly Hills found that iPads revolutionized the way guests order room service. Today, most orders come in via the guestroom iPad instead of the old-fashioned guest-room telephone.

When hotel guests aren't using their in-room iPads to order a hotel service, they most often use them to surf the Internet, Intelity's analysis shows. The top three non-hotel-service uses:

1. Using the internet (Varies by hotel based on pricing)
2. Looking at their messages (E-mails from hotel staff to guests)
3. Finding out information about their hotel (Replaces those bulky printed, in-room binders)