A COMMERCIAL on Hong Kong television portrays a flustered executive being briefed by his secretary on facilities available at his next hotel. He is horrified to learn a certain satellite channel will not be available. So much for the imagination of the advertising industry. In reality, today's corporate executives have a priority of choosing a hotel with laptop links to their company and customers. Most other facility pale into insignificance compared with the need for communications facilities. And today's laptop-dependent 'road warrior' is demanding more than old- fashioned business centres. Their idea of room service, 1990s- style, means the fastest and most up- to-date systems enabling them to operate in the middle of the night, if necessary. Now coming to the rescue of the industry, which has been somewhat reluctant to jump aboard the information superhighway, is a generation of companies specialising in room technology systems designed for hotels that count travelling executives among their most valued guests. They are tapping in to what has been described as the 'hottest new business opportunity to hit the hotel industry since the mini-bar'. The Regent, constantly ranked by polls among the world's top hotels, last month became the first hotel in the world to install in all guest rooms two new state-of-the-art Internet and e-mail products from the pay-TV provider MagiNet - Internet TV and Laptop Connect. The first re-defines room entertainment and information services with a revolutionary interactive experience twinning Internet TV and the World-Wide Web. Its e-mail link allows guests either to use their existing addresses or create a new one to send and receive messages. Laptop Connect, on the other hand, is the tool for the seasoned computer-savvy businessman, providing high-speed connections without the need for either roaming capability with such outfits as Compuserve, or even a local Internet service provider. Better still, charges are a fraction of those traditionally charged (or rather, overcharged) at most typical business centres. A connection costs just $10 and the on-line rate is $1.50 a minute. 'The dedicated leased line ensures that guests can download e-mail and attachments and surf the Net at the full speed of their modems without being plagued by busy signals and failed connections, as so often happens with local providers,' said the Regent's general manager, Thomas Gurtner. 'We are committed to being a high-performance hotel and easing the way for guests to conduct their business successfully by providing the ultimate service and facilities. 'This in-room technology offers a new dimension, in line with our guests' increasing demands for global information and around-the-clock business communication.' The Hong Kong company, I-Quest, is another new player in this market, having just installed its first local system at the Ritz-Carlton. The product, called WorldRoom, is aimed at business travellers and essentially turns a hotel into a hi-tech office at the flick of a switch. Guests can access their e-mail and the Internet at high speed through their laptops in 20 designated WorldRooms, named after their I-Quest link. They can simultaneously make phone calls and send and receive faxes. The rooms are even equipped with a laser printer and scanner. And the service is free . . . well, sort of. Although there are no charges for the connections, the rates for WorldRoom packages are rather on the high side for Asia in the current economic climate, starting at $1,750 and rising to $3,250 for executive suites.