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New Consumer Electronics Check-in at Hotels

LA Times reports that hotel conveniences have come a long way in the last few years. Apple iPods and other forms of mobile media are changing lifestyles. And they're causing an electronic whirlwind in the hospitality industry as hotels scramble to unwrap the latest in-room innovations that match or surpass what consumers have at home.

Hotels such as the Peninsula Hotels chain are running research and development labs to determine how technology can enhance a guest's stay. At its incubator in the Aberdeen district of Hong Kong, a staff of 19 engineers and designers is trying to create the Peninsula's 'dream room of the future.'

Keeping customers happy is why hotel technology managers must stay ahead of the game, says Doug Rice, executive director of Hotel Technologies Next Generation, a Chicago-based industry association of hotel information-technology professionals and vendors.

Tech trends that are increasingly popular in today's hotels include high-speed wireless Internet that supports many guests simultaneously; all-in-one room-control systems; connectivity ports that enable guests to plug in many mobile devices; flat-screen TVs with TiVo-like features to rewind, record or pause shows or movies.

Today's vacationers want comfort in their hotels and also expect support for their pocket-sized gadgets, experts say. "We are all about enabling guests to choose their own entertainment, access their own content so they can feel connected and productive," said Lou Paladeau, vice president of operations technology at Marriott Corp.

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