Thistle Hotels has announced today that it has reached agreement with Hong Kong-based I-Quest Corporation to install 21st century, high-speed Internet networks in more than 9,000 guestrooms throughout the United Kingdom, including more than 6,000 rooms in London.
Thistle, which operates 56 hotels, will be the first major hotel group in the UK to offer broadband Internet access as a standard amenity. The Thistle Tower in London is scheduled to be the first hotel in the chain to offer I-Quest’s broadband service, called Worldroom Connect, which will be installed in June.
“The availability of fast and convenient Internet access has become a key factor in hotel choice for many travelling executives,” said Ian Burke, Chief Executive, Thistle Hotels. “We believe that installing I-Quest’s technology will give us a significant competitive advantage.”
I-Quest is a global leader in packaging and customizing broadband Internet solutions for leading business class and luxury hotels. Founded in 1996, I-Quest has nearly 200 contracted hotels in 35 countries worldwide.
“We’re very pleased to form a strategic partnership with I-Quest,” said Mr Burke. “We evaluated many companies in this industry from North America, Europe and Asia before choosing I-Quest, which we believe has the most robust and secure technology, as well as superior customer support systems.”
In most Thistle hotels, Worldroom Connect will be available for a flat fee for 24-hour usage, although some hotels may implement a time-based fee structure if guests demonstrate a preference for it.
“We’re delighted to be launching Worldroom Connect with Thistle,” said Anthony Blass, Chairman and Chief Executive of I-Quest. “Thistle’s reputation for innovation is nothing new, having recently won citations for Best Use of Technology by a Hotel Chain and Best Web Site by a Hotel Chain. We are honoured to be associated with a hotel group whose guests have come to expect the latest technology.”
Until now, business travellers relied on slow dial-up connections to access the Internet when staying at most hotels. By contrast, Worldroom Connect offers ultra-fast Internet access at up to 10 Mbps or 10,000 Kbps, 347 times faster than a standard 28.8 Kbps modem. I-Quest’s innovative technology also enables hotel guests to enjoy plug-and-play convenience with no need for reconfiguration, and instant connectivity without having to dial up. Worldroom Connect works with virtually any operating system, including Windows 95 or 98, Windows NT, Unix, Linux, OS/2 and Macintosh.
I-Quest will provide all capital investment, on-going technical maintenance and support as well as on-site operational support. Each company will share advertising and e-commerce revenues earned through the Thistle web pages within the I-Quest portal.
About I-Quest Corporation Limited
Founded in 1996, I-Quest has grown into one of the leading global providers of broadband Internet technology for the hotel industry, and operates Asia’s most comprehensive online resource for business travellers. It employs over 160 staff in nine offices in Bangkok, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, London, Manila, Seoul, Shanghai, Singapore and Taipei. Its corporate headquarters is in Hong Kong, while its Web development team is based in Manila. I-Quest’s portfolio of hotel partners includes nearly 200 properties in 35 countries, including top brands such as Hyatt, Ritz-Carlton, Hilton, Thistle, Sheraton, Peninsula, Novotel and Dusit.
I-Quest’s institutional investors include GE Equity Capital Investments Limited, Nomura/Jafco Investments, AsiaTech Ventures and the Hong Kong Government.