Chris Kenney, marketing director for the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, just returned from a family vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
He didn’t come back to a swamped in box of e-mails because Kenney brought his laptop computer to the beach retreat, and he read and responded to his e-mails daily.
A computer is the standard appendage of a business traveler, but more vacationers are packing a portable PC along with the suntan lotion, said Connie Brown, Intel spokeswoman.
Four out of 10 leisure travelers said, in a survey commissioned by Intel, that they or family members brought laptops on a recent vacation. Even more telling, 53 percent said they are likely to take one on a future trip.
And not necessarily to keep up with what’s happening at the office, Brown said.
“They are talking to friends back home, looking for good hotel rates, watching movies or playing games on the plane,” she said. “It’s great entertainment.”
Brown said several survey respondents described similar scenarios of sitting in a car or coffee shop outside a hotel and booking a better room rate from an online travel site that they were quoted from the front desk.
Others said they used their computers to check museum hours, make reservations and buy tickets to events and attractions.
Slimmer-sized computers and nearly universal access to the Internet have spurred a take-along technology trend, Brown said.
“Notebooks are lighter, thinner, stylish, colorful, you can stick them in a beach bag,” Brown said. “And you can get connectivity just about anywhere — any Starbucks, any airport.”
At the Tempe Mission Palms, printing boarding passes for guests became such a standard request that the hotel added a lobby kiosk with Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport flight and airline information and a printer, Kenney said. Guests can check in to a flight on their own laptop and print out the boarding pass on the hotel’s printer.
Based on the volume of queries from potential guests about the hotel’s Internet connection capabilities, Kenney said that the Intel study’s estimate of connected tourists may be too low.
“If somebody had asked me, I would have guessed 70 percent or 80 percent took their laptops on vacation,” he said. Tempe Mission Palms offers Internet access from guest rooms and throughout the pool and public areas. You could hardly find a fullservice East Valley inn that doesn’t provide an Internet hook-up somewhere on the property, if not everywhere.
At upscale Four Seasons resorts worldwide, high-speed Internet access in guest rooms is a standard amenity, said Suzanne Smith, director of reservations at the Four Seasons Scottsdale. So regulars seldom ask if they can connect, she said; they just want to know how.