Too specific an amenity can leave some guests out
Too specific an amenity can leave some guests out
07 OCTOBER 2016 7:14 AM

You can’t please everyone all the time, but too narrow a focus when it comes to guest amenities could alienate many.

A few weeks ago, News Editor Sean McCracken expressed his interest in taking a peek into the lives of front-desk associates who share their stories on Reddit. He sent a link around the office for a recent post on Reddit that included a photo of a hotel guestroom’s clock radios, which feature a dock for later-model iPhones.

Notice I say later model, not the latest model. While the radio had the Lightning dock, it also included an audio jack to connect a phone to the speakers. Unless Apple changes its mind about doing away with the audio jack, those clock radios are somewhat obsolete now.

Worse, the Reddit post stated that the hotel had spent thousands of dollars to buy these clock radios with 30-pin iPhone docks—right before Apple switched iPhones to Lightning ports. The hotel then retrofitted the clock radios with the new Lightning docks a few months ago. Oops.

To compound the issue, consider that both the 30-pin docks and the Lightning docks work only with iPhones models. That leaves out guests who use phones by Samsung, LG, Sony, or any other brand. Maybe most guests wouldn’t care, but it might cause some to wonder why the hotel chose to accommodate certain phones and not theirs.

I don’t envy whoever has the job to research and buy new items for guestrooms. That’s a job that requires a good deal of knowledge of technology trends and considerable foresight, especially if some of these items are expected to last for years.

Speaking only from my own experience, I’ve never used a hotel clock radio to play music from my phone. I don’t know if any of my family or friends do either. That’s not to say that no one does, but I would imagine most people simply want to charge their phone.

Outlets and USB charging stations—that’s really what most people want. They use the alarms on their phones to wake them up. They use headphones or their own speakers to listen to music. They don’t need anything extra, and they probably don’t want it. Offering something they don’t need or want could make the hotel seem out of touch.

It’s great that hoteliers try to anticipate guests’ needs and cater to them, but I would say spending thousands of dollars on a clock radio that only accommodates a certain brand, or even model, of phone is too narrow a focus. It might seem like a great amenity to a handful of guests, but for everyone else, it’s a piece of tech they can’t and/or won’t use.

Sometimes broader is better. Granted, installing more outlets or USB charging stations in a room—whether hardwired into the wall, through furniture or any other method—is more expensive than some clock radios and might have to wait until a renovation. But consider this: That technology will be used by almost every guest staying in those rooms, while the phone dock in a clock radio will go mostly ignored. Also, every iteration of smartphone, regardless of the types of docks they use, works with some type of USB cable.

What’s the better option: More expensive but more widely used, or less expensive but less used? Tech with staying power, or tech that’s quicker to become obsolete?

Am I completely off my rocker? Are guests telling you they love those clock radios and never let them go? Let me know. You can reach me at and @HNN_Bryan.

The opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Hotel News Now or its parent company, STR and its affiliated companies. Bloggers published on this site are given the freedom to express views that may be controversial, but our goal is to provoke thought and constructive discussion within our reader community. Please feel free to comment or contact and editor with any questions or concerns.

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