Covered in the Travel section of the USA Today this week, the Opus hotel in Vancouver’s Yaletown neighborhood has replaced all the archaic hotel-room phones with Apple’s iPhone. Positioned on a charging station on top of a clock radio next to the bed, guests are free to take the iPhone with them during their stay in Vancouver. Visitors are use the iPhone to navigate the city for sightseeing and locating popular restaurants or shopping stores. The iPhone provided by Opus also has mobile phone service, thus a visitor can make calls with a Canadian phone number and not have to worry about international roaming fees if they are visiting from another country. There’s no charge for making local calls on the phone, but it’s likely that the guest would have to pay for international calls.
Just like any standard iPhone, guests can also download free applications like games if they need a way to entertain the kids. The Opus hotel also preloads a variety of numbers to contact hotel services. For instance, if the visitor is returning to the hotel after a day of sightseeing, they can call room service using the preloaded number to order dinner prior to arriving back at their room. Other hotel contacts include the concierge as well as housekeeping.
After the Opus guest checks out of the room, all personal data on the iPhone is wiped clean in order to protect the privacy of the guests. For instance, the next guest of that particular room won’t be able to see the websites visited or calls made by the previous guest.
When asked about the new iPhones, Opus Vancouver’s general manager Nicholas Gandossi stated ”Technology is a way of life today, not just a perk, and that holds true even while traveling.” However, this isn’t the first time that the Opus has invested in mobile technology as a guest service. During February 2012, the Opus equiped each room in the hotel with an iPad 2. The tablets come preloaded with a variety of popular media applications in addition to Web links to information about the hotel as well as the Vancouver area.
In addition, the iPad’s have been customized with a virtual concierge to match the general feel of the hotel room. The guest can choose from five different personalities of the virtual concierge and each comes with a specific set of applications. Just like the iPhones, the guest is allowed to leave the hotel with the iPad and use it when wandering through the city. The hotel purchased the 3G version of the iPad 2, thus the guests don’t have to seek a Wi-Fi hotspot in the city to use the tablet.
While other hotel chains haven’t quite shifted into offering mobile devices in each hotel room, hotels are starting to upgrade rooms with clock radios that offer mobile phone charging docks in addition to custom smartphone applications that allow guests to listen to music stations, order room service or read about attractions in the area.
In addition, Holiday Inn has contracted a third party firm to develop a ‘direct to room’ application for smartphones. Rather than checking in at a front desk to obtain keys, the guest checks in through the application and waves the smartphone in front of the door handle to unlock the hotel room door.