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Welcome to hotel Wi-Fi

By Nick Easen for CNN

The wireless hotel could become a hit with business travelers.
The wireless hotel could become a hit with business travelers.

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(CNN) -- The idea of a completely wireless hotel where you can access the Internet anywhere from the lobby to the bar is not something of the future, but already opening its doors to business travelers.

Hotels from Australia to England to California are going wireless to attract business travelers and grab market share from their not so tech-savvy competitors.

"The response has been very, very good to date," the Valencia Group's Matthew Nuss told CNN after they installed wireless capability in one of their hotels.

"We decided to do it as a way to differentiate our new brand from other brands in the market place."

And it's creating quite a buzz in the global travel community as hotels with money to burn clamber to become part of the technological elite.

Some hotel chains are marketing high-tech as a convenient perk, whereas others have a vision that tomorrow's corporate traveler will openly demand high-tech in hotels as the only way to do business in the digital age.

Some companies in the technology industry are already demanding Wi-Fi-enabled hotel venues for shareholder meetings, trade shows or employee retreats.

With a hefty bill for installing the hardware, it is mainly five-star and luxury chains that are installing wireless access for their guests.

They are selling visions of business guests roaming from wireless hot spots in the lobby to the bar to the pool with their Internet enabled laptop computers.

In a bid to boost Wi-Fi in hotels, companies such as Boingo Wireless are also listing hot spots on their Web site.

Europe is lagging behind however, with listings in their infancy.

From the Chifley On The Terrace in Perth, Australia to the swanky Kingsway Hall Hotel in London, venues are selling the amenities of a wired office to their business guests, but there are no cables in sight.

And if you don't have a wireless network card for Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) connectivity the concierge will hand one to you for high-speed Internet access in public areas.

One Silicon Valley hotel even has a doorman that checks you in with a remote curbside palm-like devise.

To date it has been the Sunday to Thursday business travelers who have generally relied on this kind of high-tech capability, yet the demand from leisure travelers is also likely to rise.

A high-tech gamble

For many hotels the biggest problem will be staying ahead of the continually evolving advances in the technology market.

"We understand how quickly the bar can be raised," says Nuss.

For the Houston-based Valencia Group, it has been a costly experiment, but the management views it as an asset in attracting sophisticated clients from around the world.

"We saw a definite need in the Silicon Valley marketplace for a hotel well-equipped with tech. The technology solution [has] become a very powerful tool for our sales team," Nuss told CNN.

The high-tech package, which was created by Hewlett Packard and implemented by Cisco, cost around half a million dollars.

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