Taking care of business

There are more than 200,000 hotels in the world, and too many of those are failing to give business travellers what they want.

That global hotel tally comes from the most recent estimates of online booking agencies, but what about the #fail? That's a call based on my own experience and tales shared by many business travellers and frequent flyers, from self-employed consultants to corporate comrades-in-arms.

It's not hard to treat the business traveller right. We're not divas waving a pretentious list of must-haves.

Surely it's not that hard to treat the business traveller right. We're not divas waving a pretentious list of must-haves.

Once a hotel has covered the basics of a convenient location, cleanliness and a high standard of service, here are some of the business travel boxes they need to tick.

Room to work

How can so many hotels get this basic requirement of business travellers so wrong?

We're not staying at your hotel to party like C-grade celebs or 'chillax' for the weekend. We're there to work.

That means we need a couple of things, starting with a desk – something which a number of hotels are dropping in their attempt to give the rooms a more casual vibe.

As a journalist I probably spend more time pounding the keyboard than the average business traveller, but I don't believe any of us consider a sofa, lounge chair or bed to be the ideal laptop workspace.

And with a proper desk comes a proper chair  – anything from a standard secretary's chair to a swish Aeron-style masterpiece – with adjustable height and good lumbar support.

One of the worst offenders I've seen in this category is Singapore's Marina Bay Sands, which uses hard-backed fixed-height chairs with stiff fixed arms that are more appropriate to a dining room.

These didn't even let me get close enough to the desk to work comfortably, and worse, the hotel was completely unable to provide me with anything more suitable.

The final pieces of the working space puzzle: adjustable task lighting and a few spare power points within easy reach.

Fast Internet everywhere

For my money, in-room internet shouldn't cost a red cent at any business hotel – especially not when it's already free at most backpacker hostels, and certainly not when the hotel is already charging you plenty for the room.

However, free internet doesn't need to be a business-grade connection. As long as it's quick enough for zippy web browsing and flinging everyday emails back and forth.

If I want substantially faster speeds for accessing a remote network, streaming media or downloading and uploading supersized files, then I'm prepared to pay a reasonable premium for that – say, $20 per day.

But the baseline is internet that's free and fast enough for everyday use.

And it should be available everywhere in the hotel, not just in the room. Everywhere from the lobby and the lounge to the maze of meeting rooms should be wired so that business travellers can be unwired.

Club lounge

I'm a big fan of executive or club floors which feature a guest lounge. On many business trips this becomes a de facto office outside of the room.

It provides a relaxed atmosphere where you can work solo, meet with clients, catch up on emails and wind down after the day.

Most lounges serve a light complimentary breakfast which beats having to battle the masses at the hotel's main breakfast buffet.

Add a variety of snacks throughout the day and evening, including cocktails, and a good club lounge gets me back every time.

Finding the X-factor

There's always an X-factor, and it's largely driven by personal preferences.

Some business travellers value a first-rate gym or selected fitness gear provided in their room.

Others appreciate hotels that are a little different from the mainstream pack – especially as smaller boutique and design hotels with a fresh feel and contemporary 'urban' design.

Some hotels are – shock, horror – getting truly innovative in gearing up for the business traveller.

One standout example is the full 24-hour room stay being rolled out across hotels in the Starwood family such as Sheraton, Westin, W and Le Méridien.

Starwood is aiming to abolish set check-in and check-out times for top-tier members of the Starwood Preferred Guest scheme, giving them the ability to check-in and check-out at any hour of the day (or night) with a full 24 hours stay in between.

It'll be a boon for business travellers who often find that flight schedules don't match up with a hotel's fixed arrival and departure times.

What do you look for in a hotel when you travel on business, and what are some favourite hotels which keep you coming back?

David Flynn is a business travel expert and editor of Australian Business Traveller.

Twitter: @AusBT