The iPad has revolutionized the way many travelers work and relax in hotels since Apple started selling it three years ago.
So, with the device’s third birthday in mind, Hotel Check-In asked a variety of travelers and hotel industry workers to identify the top ways that the iPad and tablet computers have changed the lodging experience. Here are their picks:
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1.Replacing old binders, hotel directories and menus. At hotels including the Hilton San Diego Bayfront and the Boston Marriott Long Wharf, the concierges are equipped with iPads so they can give inquiring guests images of the restaurants, clubs and tourist attractions that they’re recommending. “Today, all of our concierges have most of their restaurant choices and tourist attractions on the iPad,” says Marc Hoffman of Sunstone Hotel Investors, which owns 26 upscale chain hotels. “In an old-fashioned hotel, they’d flip through a three-ring binder,” Hoffman adds.
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The Hilton San Diego Bayfront hotel recently installed six iPads mounted in brackets around its bar so that guests can read digital menus instead of paper ones. There are potential drawbacks to using tablet computers as menus, however, says hotel design expert Patrick Goff, who publishes HotelDesigns.net. He’s seen some hotel restaurants give a table of two just one iPad forcing them to share, he says, calling the practice “pretty useless.”
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iPads also are helping force changes to the old-fashioned business center.
At Eventi in New York City, one of Kimpton’s boutique hotels, the business center has been replaced with the “Business Bar.” There, guests can choose from a number of options, including six iPads, two iPad Minis and a reading tablet, says hotel publicist Erica Cohen.
2. Less to pack. Since Los Angeles-based media trainer Clint Arthur bought his iPad, he stopped traveling with his old-fashioned video camera equipment. “The iPad is much more elegant and easy to travel with,” he says. Arthur trains people on how to get on television shows, and shoots training videos in hotel rooms with his iPad. Hotel rooms are “good studio environments” for filming because they’re quiet and they also give his students a change of scenery, he says.
Steve Moore, a petroleum industry executive, recently began relying on his iPad and a special home security app when on the road in hotels to stay connected to a new home he’s building in Nashville. “I’m real connected to the house,” he says. “I can change the temperature, turn off the lights, and turn the alarm on and off.” While he also has the app on his laptop, the iPad is what he uses most often because it’s the right size for bringing to the dinner table or hotel bar, usually his location when he needs to deal with home security. Plus, when he travels for less than a week, he doesn’t bring his laptop. He also has the app on his smart phone, “but sometimes you just don’t want to squint at your iPhone.”
3. Entertainment. Some travelers are using their iPads to replace the hotel TV, even if it’s a luxurious 50-inch flat screen. Puneet Mehta, a New York City tech entrepreneur, usually doesn’t turn on the hotel-room set because he rarely watches TV shows, but when he does, he uses his iPad. “I don’t watch much TV, but I do have Mad Men on my iPad to watch when I need to unwind before bed,” he says.
Frequent traveler Kevin Chin says his iPad also serves as his handy entertainment library.
“I hardly ever turn on the TV in my hotel room anymore, now that I have a virtual library of entertainment at my fingertips between Hulu, Netflix, and iTunes. It allows me to get caught up on all my TV series while on the road,” he says.
4. iPad as tour guide. When San Francisco digital marketing strategist David McCormick tried to find the best local playground in Palo Alto, Calif., he didn’t even think to turn to the concierge at his hotel. Instead, he turned to his iPad. He called up a Google map of the neighborhood, changed it to “satellite view” and took a virtual tour of the nearby parks “to find the one with the biggest and best play structure,” he says.
“Instead of going to a ‘boring’ park or driving all over town, I drove straight to what ended up being a fantastic park and had a great, stress-free day with my kids,” McCormick says. “It was awesome and left me marveling at the wonder that some technology has become.”
Readers: How has the iPad changed your hotel stay?
from USA TODAY/TRAVEL