(When) Will Hotel Guest Room Phones Go Away?

Hotel Guest Room PhoneSeveral years ago at HITEC, the “Guest Room of the Future” exhibit presented a guest room with a variety of futuristic amenities. What was missing was a room telephone.  Since then, the topic of “if”, or rather, “when” the hotel guest room phone will go away, has come up frequently.

A recent LinkedIn telephony forum post suggested that since pay phones have all but disappeared from the communications landscape, hotel room phones can’t be far behind. Even though the poster and comments eventually landed on the obvious – we need guest room phones to easily call the front desk, room service, emergency 911, etc. – the fact that the question keeps coming up means something.

My own First Axiom of Hotel Guest Amenities ties them to their prevalence in the home and/or workplace.   Based on this, guest room phones should start to disappear when the home phone and desk phone fade away.  We already see younger generations foregoing the cost and hassle of having a home phone, largely because they prefer texting to talking.  When they must have an actual phone conversation, they use their mobile device even if the crystal clear audio opportunity of using a “land line” is at hand.

Personally, I use the hotel guest room phone occasionally to talk with the hotel staff (“more towels”, “what time is late checkout?”, “can I get a wakeup call?”).  Infrequently, I’m forced to use it when my cell has no signal, or a dead battery, or that time I realized it was sitting in the cup holder of my car, which in turn was in the Denver airport parking lot 1,500 miles away.  I’m sure you frequent travelers have your own similar lists.

Those who claim the guest room phone will never go away most often cite “life safety” issues, although to my knowledge there remains no law stating a hotel room must provide a 9-1-1 solution.  Of course, hoteliers are sensitive to guest lawsuits.

The emerging “Guest Mobile App” landscape promises to turn the guest room phone into an all-purpose hotel communications device, which should be able to provide the same communication capabilities as the guest room phone – including room service and emergency services. And, there is no doubt cell phone coverage and clarity will continue to improve.

When does this all come together in a way that will allow elimination of the guest room phone?  Not soon, but someday.

Frank Melville

PhoneSuite CEO


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