Making PCs, Net Access Standard In Hotel Rooms - InformationWeek

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Making PCs, Net Access Standard In Hotel Rooms

Business travel is about to get its biggest productivity boost since hotels started putting coffee makers in each room. A technology company and two hotel chains say they are making high-speed Internet access standard features in hotel rooms.

Coventus Inc. on Monday will begin pitching its Mytravelshadow application platform to the hospitality industry, promising hotel guests not only broadband Internet access, but access to corporate E-mail systems--and soon, corporate networks--through any browser or Web-enabled phone.

"The problem with high-speed Internet access from hotels is that corporate E-mail isn't public," says Ranald McGillis, Coventus' executive VP of operations and engineering. Essentially, the company has built a secure "tunnel" through which encrypted messages and passwords are sent, appearing at the corporate server as though they had come in through a dial-up network, McGillis explains.

Norm Rose, president of TravelTechnology.com, a travel E-commerce consulting firm, says, "Travelers want to get into the hotel, hook up to a high-speed connection, and communicate with their corporate portals. Without that, Internet access is just a lot of noise."

With startup financing from PSINet Ventures, Coventus is focusing on hotels in high-tech centers such as Dallas, Boston, and Atlanta. It already has contracts with 40 properties in North America.

Meanwhile, Choice Hotels and Hawthorn Suites are rolling out programs to install PCs, notebooks, and Internet devices in their hotel rooms. Hawthorn this month is putting devices in six properties, with plans to bring computers and T1 access to every guestroom by October, CIO Steve Jacobs says. Certain Web sites and services will be offered free to guests, with full Internet access priced at $9.95 a day. Choice spun off Stay Connect, a company that will put computers in hotel rooms nationwide.

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