Heathrow's tech-savvy Yotel opens for business

Business travellers heading out of London's Heathrow Airport now have another productivity tool at their disposal, in the form of a newly-launched capsule-style hotel from the brand behind the popular Yo! Sushi chain of restaurants.

Opened last week, the Yotel is situated less than a minute's walk from check-in at Terminal 4 and claims to offer a modern-twist on hospitality, including using the latest technology for booking a room, check-in, ordering food and surfing the web.

"Technology drives our business," said Nigel Buchanan, operations director at Yotel. "You book online and get an email and a text message with an embedded unique booking reference. When you arrive at Yotel, you type in that reference into a touch screen [kiosk]... you then get a keycard and cabin receipt. Most hotels employ staff to administer you, whereas Yotel employs a crew to serve you."

Although Yotel doesn't believe in using technology for technology's sake, as Buchanan points out: "We don't have biometrics for door entry etc. We have good old fashioned magnetic swipes. That may change but at the moment biometrics is not reliable enough."

Yotel has worked with partner TFM Networks to equip each cabin with free Wi-Fi and wired internet connectivity, in addition to providing streaming IP-based CCTV, digital television and 'techno wall' entertainment systems that let guests order room service items among other things.

To provide these types of services, TFM has implemented both an MPLS connection and an ADSL max connection, cost effectively maximising bandwidth availability for core and add-on applications.

"Yotel's approach to the concept of airport hotels required an innovative network solution from us - one which has successfully combined high-availability and business functionality with the technology that business passengers demand," said Brett Rowe, TFM Networks' sales and marketing director.

Hot on the heels of the launch of the Yotel at Gatwick Airport earlier this year, the company behind the innovation is already planning its next move. A Yotel at Schiphol Airport in the Netherlands is due to open in April next year and the company is already looking at a possible facility for passengers travelling from Heathrow Terminals 1, 2, 3 and Terminal 5 when it opens.

The company plans to launch its first city centre-based Yotel in early 2009, according to Buchanan.

Maggie Holland

Maggie has been a journalist since 1999, starting her career as an editorial assistant on then-weekly magazine Computing, before working her way up to senior reporter level. In 2006, just weeks before ITPro was launched, Maggie joined Dennis Publishing as a reporter. Having worked her way up to editor of ITPro, she was appointed group editor of CloudPro and ITPro in April 2012. She became the editorial director and took responsibility for ChannelPro, in 2016.

Her areas of particular interest, aside from cloud, include management and C-level issues, the business value of technology, green and environmental issues and careers to name but a few.