Hotel companies are dealing with in-room connectivity and productivity in a variety of ways--from workstations that wheel from guest to guest, to T1 data ports for every room. Hilton Hotels has come up with a comprehensive approach that may set the industry standard.

"There's an idea that we're your father's Oldsmobile. The fact is, we've stepped up," said John Luft, director of worldwide marketing for Hilton Hotels Corp., during an online press conference to introduce the Essential Guest Services Network (EGSN). The project is a partnership of Hilton and Unisys Corp., with a pilot program now under way in 12 rooms at the Anaheim Hilton & Towers.

A touch screen in EGSN-equipped rooms will give guests access to

* hotel services database,

* e-mail (no laptop needed),

* Microsoft Word, Excel, and Power Point software (using the Windows 95 operating system with Microsoft Office 97 and Internet Explorer 4.01),

* virtual news room--news and weather from around the world, interactive computer games, information on local attractions, and real-time bookings at any Hilton.

EGSN guest rooms are outfitted with a touch-screen monitor, a PC unit (without a hard drive) on the underside of the desk, and an optional keyboard in the drawer. The workstation is wired to property servers, which are connected to a large off-site Unisys server system.

These services come at no cost to the guest. Hilton expects to pay for the system through e-commerce and advertising revenues. However, even if the pilot goes well, the systems will be installed only in executive-class rooms. Look for the rooms to come online throughout 1999.