There was a time when telephones were only available to the elite. As such, it was strictly the most upscale hotels that made use of phones during the late 1800s and early 1900s. Typically, a desk phone would have been available for hotel staff, and a single wall phone located in the lobby area for guest use, with all calls being directed through an outside operator.
In 1957 Hilton first offers direct-dial telephone service in Hotel. This allowed rooms to dial out local calls and be billed for them.Another feature was single digit dialing for various services–room service, valet, concierge, front desk, each would have a single digit assigned to them and the phone dial would have an outer mount explaining all this.For long distance calls, hotel operators would ask for time and charges (as most businesses did back them), record them, and add them to the guest’s bill.
Although still considered to be a luxury, this became a turning point for phones within the hospitality industry. As guests could now connect directly to other guest rooms, the front desk, and outside lines, the demand for in-room phone extensions was growing. Over the following decades, the popularity of both residential and commercial telephone systems exploded, enabling hotels to take advantage of the service for accepting advance reservations.
The next major change occurred in the 1960s, when touch-tone telephones were introduced. Not only did this improve dialing speed, but the technology also made automated phone menus possible. As technology progressed, hotels enjoyed the luxuries of caller ID, multiple phone lines, call waiting, call transfers, and more.
The biggest breakthrough for hotel phone systems came with the launch of the World Wide Web. Although, at the time, many traditional phone companies argued that voice would never be able to travel via the internet, the idea was never abandoned, and as early as 1995 the “Internet Phone” was born. It took nearly a decade to perfect this particular technology, with the world’s introduction to Skype in 2003 as the big game-changer.
At present, hotels and guests has shifted to the Handheld Android Devices and I-pad, I-Phone, etc.