Wireless charging in B&Bs
If you are looking for ways to add wireless charging in B&Bs to the guest experience you might consider wireless phone chargers in your rooms. Just look out to make sure the product you buy suits your guests’ needs.
In many homes and businesses there is a box or drawer that hosts a collection of some or all of the following: phone cords, audio leads, chargers, HDMI cables, computer leads and a variety of adapters.
The plethora of phone charger in daily use may have shrunk in recent years, but packing and retrieving the right one can be time-consuming. If cords are at the bottom of a guest’s suitcase then rummaging around and pulling out the right one can take the edge off the start to an otherwise tidy and orderly trip away.
But with the advent of wireless charging, the conventional mobile phone charger may soon become a thing of the past.
Wireless charging, also known as inductive charging, replenishes power to mobile phones or other devices through electromagnetic induction. This means that there is no need to bother with a cable.
In fact the wireless charger is expected by many to become the new norm in phone technology. The latest models of smart phones are factory produced to be compatible with the universal standard for wireless charging, Qi. The new models to which this applies include the iPhone 8, X and the newer models as well as the Samsung Galaxy S line and Google phones, so there is a high chance your guests will have a phone that can be wirelessly charged.
It therefore makes sense to offer a wireless charging in B&Bs for guests in your luxury B&B.
Although wireless charging has been around for a few years it can still be considered in its infancy as manufacturer standards are still aligning. One such company Chargifi was launched five years ago at around the time the first wireless chargers were becoming available on the market. Its focus was initially on use in coffee shops, before its owners found the potential to provide the devices for guest house bedrooms.
Since last year with Apple adopted the Qi standard in 2017, which led to all the other manufacturers following suit last year, there has been a latent demand and most users are now bestowed with this functionality in their phones.
Last September a report produced by Newzoo claimed that of the 3.6bn smartphones in use as at June 2018 the most popular brand was Samsung with 893 million active devices and a market share of 27% compared with Apple’s share of 24%.
Qi is Chinese for energy flow, and means that you only need to place the phone on the special mat or stand for it to charge, removing the cumbersome need to find and plug in the right cable.
While wireless charging is not always faster than its counterpart, there are different speeds available rated in wattage between 5W and 10W that alter how quickly your phone powers up. What’s more, there are options that can convert your phone into a home hub, connected to Siri, Alexa or the like that allow you to change the music, convert your phone into an interactive picture frame and more through voice control.
When it comes to Wireless Charging in B&Bs, from the perspective of a B&B owner one of the main advantages of the wireless charger is the convenience of having their guests turning up and simply being able to drop their phone onto the spot and have it immediately begin charging. Most of the new phones on the market today from the top manufacturers are capable of wireless charging.
Chargifi head of marketing Irvin Gray says: “These devices are seen increasingly in places where people go when they are away from home such as coffee shops, hotels, B&Bs and bars, and in due course they will become a feature that people we will get used to seeing and using, without having to carry around power chargers with wires.
“When you are talking about wireless charging in B&Bs it is a premium offering for the guest bedroom as a convenient amenity.”
There are other ways in which you can make that spot a trigger point for the room if it has smart lighting or temperature control, he says. “As the electronic functions of rooms become increasingly controlled by mobile devices hotels and guest houses are more and more moving away from having a dedicated iPad in the room and they are leaving the control up to the guest in the room to use his or hr own device with which they are familiar to operate those systems via an app. And, of course, the phone neds to be charged as well.”
From a management perspective, one of the benefits to the B&B owner is the device’s ability to connect the user to the cloud, he claims. “The cloud management software platform ensures your spots are always live,” he says.
“If there is minor problem, such as the Wi-Fi being down, an update taking place over the air or a reset, it can be rectified over the air, which negates call-out costs, and if not then the problem can be identified in advance without the person coming to you, enabling you to provide an uninterrupted dedicated service,” he says.
Another particular advantage of the charger for hotels although perhaps to a lesser extent B&B is its ability to provide anonymised guest behaviour data, enabling you to start to get a clearer picture of the realistic extent to which people are in their rooms or are using certain spaces in the business.
“If you have a bar or F&B area that is popular. you can analyse behaviour and get people to that place. You can also make personalised offers to them and create loyalty programmes. This means that in addition to the reliability factor of the charger there is the capability of hooking in to guest experience and data.”
But what of those users whose mobile phones don’t have wireless charging in B&Bs capability? It will presumably take a lot of time and energy from the B&B owner first to establish that the advertised facility doesn’t work and secondly to explain this to the user.
Gray says: “The one thing we do to get around that, while the market is in a period of transition, is to have a QR code on the spot which guests can scan with their phone’s camera to establish if their phone is compatible.”
Charging times vary from device to device as well as from phone to phone. It is unrealistic to assume that a few minutes with a wireless charger will replenish a phone’s battery for the day. Gray says: “The remote units typically take longer than a conventional cable battery charge. They vary by phone and by charger.
“It isn’t as fast as a wired charge, but the idea is that guests would have access to these spots in their room and bar area in all the places they might frequent through the day. It’s a bit like drinking water. they will put down their phone and get a bit of a charge to keep them going till the next time they need to charge. It’s not really about fast charging,” he says.
The cost for a Chargifi unit is higher than the typical high street device at around £100 per spot. Furthermore, there is an additional subscription fee for the cloud software, although there are volume discounts available which may apply should a B&B owner choose to buy one for each of guest room. Gray says: “All our products are sold through managed service providers so you would buy this in a similar way to which you buy Wi-Fi for your B&B.”
The device currently allows only one device at a time to charge but Gray says Chargifi has recently partnered with Belkin which allows more than one device to charge.
Wireless charging models available in the UK
Native Union Drop
Featuring a non-slip silicone tread, this wireless charger is capable of recharging a range of phones including Sony, Nokia, Samsung and Apple through a case of up to 3mm thick. It also features thermal protection to avoid over-heating.
Google Pixel Stand
This device powers all Qi compatible devices and turns the Google Pixel 3 into a Google Home Hub.
Belkin Boost Up
The Boost Up provides charging of up to three times the speed of the industry standard. Its fanless design makes it blissfully quiet.
IKEA Wireless Charging Lamp
The base of this energy-efficient work lamp doubles up as a wireless charger and would work well in a guest room with a desk frequented by those guests who like to take their work with them.
Anker PowerWave is a sleek, non-slip pad that offers highspeed 7.5W charging through 5mm thick phone cases.
Mophie Powerstation Wireless
This device offers wireless charging on the go, with the capacity for five additional full charges.
Seneo Qi Charger
This wireless charger has an ultra-slim design, while also being able to charge your device through a 5mm case for added ease.
Samsung Galaxy Wireless Charging Stand
Designed for the Galaxy S9 or S9+ as well as all QI-enabled devices, this wireless charger has a dual function that acts as a stand for your device.
Yootech Wireless Charger
The case friendly charger has an LED indicator light that flashes for only 16 seconds once the device is connect so as not to interrupt your sleep.
Samsung Wireless Inductive Quick Qi Charger
If you know a significant proportion of your most guests tend to arrive at your B&B with recent Samsung models then you could save on the unit cost and spend less than £30 on a manufacturer-specific device such as the Samsung Wireless Inductive Quick Qi Charger, which is also compatible with the Samsung Galaxy.
Wireless charging – a history
In the late 19th century Nikola Tesla, known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system, wrote of a device that would be able to transmit electrical power from one conductor to another without the need for wires. However, the work of the Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer and futurist failed in to make such a device, owing largely to engineering and financial limitations, and power cables soon became the commonly-accepted means of transporting electricity across distances.
Now more than a century later the widespread adoption of small, portable devices with batteries in need of constant recharging is turning people’s attention once again to the opportunities for wireless power.
Wireless chargers have been available now for a number of years. In 2013 Google and LG launched the Nexus 5, which supports inductive charging with Qi. The following year Samsung launched the Galaxy S5 that supports Qi wireless charging with either a wireless charging back or receiver.