When Guests Check In, Their iPhones Check Out

By ANNE TERGESEN

When booking a weeklong yoga retreat, Amanda Levy signed up for a special package. Called “digital detox,” it promised a 15% discount if Ms. Levy, a sales executive at a San Francisco social-networking company, would agree to leave her digital devices behind, or surrender them at check-in.

“I am constantly on my iPhone and checking my email,” says the 29-year-old, who admits she sometimes “feels naked” without her smartphone. “But it was nice to be able to shut it off. It gave me an excuse to feel OK about not checking in.”

Hotel Monaco Chicago
The tranquility suite at Hotel Monaco Chicago has a meditation station.

With hotels, resorts, and travel companies scrambling to fill rooms, a small but growing number are rolling out “unplugged” and “digital detox” packages to entice people who need a push to take a break from their screens.

Marketing the deals on Twitter, Facebook, and their own websites, many hotels are offering discounts. Others are focusing on amenities designed to reduce stress, including spa treatments, kayak lessons, and guided hikes.

Starting this month, guests at the Renaissance Pittsburgh Hotel can book “Zen and the Art of Detox” on some summer weekends. The Hotel Monaco Chicago offers anyone who reserves its “tranquility suite” the option to add a “Technology Break.” Others with similar packages include the Quincy in Washington, D.C., the Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa in Teton Village, Wyo., the Lake Placid Lodge in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Via Yoga, a Seattle company that specializes in luxury yoga and surfing retreats in Mexico and Costa Rica, including the one Ms. Levy took in April.

The services take similar approaches. Typically, they ask travelers to surrender their electronic devices upon check-in. In return, concierges provide them with old-fashioned diversions, from board games to literary classics. (Most, but not all, also yank TV sets and telephones from “detox” rooms.)

The programs are tied to Americans’ seeming inability to detach their eyes and ears from their cellphones, e-readers, tablets and laptops—even when on vacation. According to a recent survey of more than 2,000 people by American Express, 79% of travelers expect to remain connected all or some of the time on their next vacation.

For many, the goal is to stay in touch with friends and family. Still, among those planning to check email, 68% say they will do so—daily or more frequently—for work, up from 58% in 2010.

In a survey of top online activities while on vacation, here’s the percentage of participants who said they:

• 72% read personal email

• 49% utilized Internet sites to find trip-related information

• 41% did online banking

• 27% checked/updated their social-media profiles

• 25% stayed abreast of the news

• 17% checked work email

Source: Echo research for American Express, 2011

Read the entire article on WSJ

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Posted on July 6, 2011, in Hospitality Digital Marketing Services. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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