Why is this hotel in Bantry Bay handing out free smartphones to its guests?

The President Hotel, Bantry Bay

Why is this hotel in Bantry Bay handing out free smartphones to its guests?

The President Hotel in Bantry Bay is re-defining the travel experience for its visitors

Why is this hotel in Bantry Bay handing out free smartphones to its guests?

The President Hotel, Bantry Bay

There’s no doubt that we’re all part of the “i-Generation”. For many of us, leaving the house without our smartphone feels like we’ve left a limb behind. The President Hotel in Bantry Bay are here to help, though…

Handheld gadgets have become an essential part of our lives, just like all the mad scientists of the mid 1900s promised us. So it only makes sense that the technological revolution has now firmly embedded itself in the tourist industry.

The President Hotel are pioneers in this respect. Upon arrival at the Cape Town resort, guests receive a free ‘Handy’ smartphone:

Why is this hotel in Bantry Bay handing out free smartphones to its guests?
This is the ‘Handy’ smartphone. It is part of every guest’s hotel experience

The President Hotel offer free data, free calls

The phone comes loaded with unlimited 4G data. Just let that sink in. Data in South Africa is basically a higher-priced commodity than gold. To give it away en-masse for free is unheard of. Vodacom, Telkom, MTN… Please, take note.

Furthermore, do we all remember what we used to use our phones for? Back in the day when they didn’t double up as cameras and social media facilitators, they were used to call people. The President Hotel fondly recalls these ancient times, and went one better than just giving guests free data.

From Bantry Bay to anywhere in the world

Yep. The ‘Handy’ smartphone also comes with unlimited call time, for both local and international calls. You can speak to anyone, anywhere in the world, without it costing you an extra cent.

For many tourists, South Africa is the other side of the world. The convenience of being able to phone home at your own discretion is completely revolutionary. And it’s something that the Hotel’s Operations Manager is very much aware of.

A match made in Cape Town

Reinard Korf spoke to us about their pioneering technology. He says that they took on the Handy device after meeting their creators at a local expo. There was an immediate ‘eureka moment’, and the group realised this would enhance their guests’ experience.

Korf believes that visitors these days value high-speed internet “as highly as they value having a bed in their room”. What The President Hotel is doing with the smartphone handout is giving their visitors the chance to bring that essential commodity – the hallowed ‘internet connection’ – outside of the hotel.

Stay connected, stay safe

The device isn’t just for keeping people connected, though. It’s for keeping people safe. Handy sets are connected to the hotel’s security department. If users get into an uncomfortable situation, “one push of a button” can summon security staff to their location in order to help out those in need.

We asked Reinard how the guests reacted to being told they’ll have a free smartphone for the duration of their stay. He admits to ‘confusion’ at the start, but as hotel patrons spent more time with the device, they received overwhelmingly positive feedback:

“It took some time to educate guests on what it was and how it worked as they have never experienced anything like it, and so naturally were a bit sceptical. When our guests started using the phones, however, they fell in love and the feedback has been overwhelming.”

“We find the most useful feature is the ability to call nationally and internationally for free, as guests are able to stay in touch with family and friends even when roaming around the city. This device has now become such an essential feature that we need to place an “out of order” sign on the rooms should a phone need to be replaced.”

Why is this hotel in Bantry Bay handing out free smartphones to its guests?
The President Hotel in Bantry Bay is aiming to be the best four-star hotel in the country

What other tech advances do the Hotel have planned?

Don’t expect The President Hotel to be resting of their laurels, though. It is part of their DNA to keep evolving, and to keep looking for the next technological breakthrough. Their specialist “Tech Committee” meets every two weeks to assess new hospitality gadgets that can be integrated into their organisation.

A Lost and Found app-system looks set to be the next ace up their sleeves. It will allow guests to retrieve any belongings they’ve left behind once their stay has ended. It can be directly ordered via courier, to deliver straight home without having to pick up the phone or speak to a staff member.

E-tourism for the i-Generation

It’s a unique approach, and one that seems to be making inroads for The Bantry Bay holiday destination. Reinard Korf alluded to the fact that soon, people will be choosing The President Hotel primarily on it’s data and free calling privileges.

It’s such an ‘i-Generation’ thing, isn’t it? That people will soon be willing to sacrifice comfort for connectivity. But TPH have certainly tapped into a market that has been staring hospitality in the face for years: They can provide both.

Who knows, perhaps this could start the first wave of e-Tourism?

Also Read: Your guide to the best nine hotels at the V&A Waterfront