For years WiFi has consistently been named as the most requested hotel amenity by travelers and a huge determinant in where guests book and how they rate their stay at a hotel. But what about the cost of charging for WiFi? Hotelier.com’s recent article: The High Cost of Charging for WiFi, concludes that hotels simply cannot afford to charge for WiFi or offer tiered service where free means “slow and unreliable”.
In 2015, as the article points out, today’s travelers rely on WiFi as a basic service that allows them to keep in touch with work, family and friends and this service is no longer an amenity but “as basic as bathrobes and body wash”. In fact may hotels would probably benefit from forgoing soaps and shampoos and investing in some high quality WiFi. A recent IHG poll of 10,000 business travelers had 60% of the respondents calling out FREE WiFi as the single most important feature of the room.
So what does all these mean for hotel owners? Clearly hotel owners struggle with the costs associated with providing free, high quality WiFi to guests. This is a struggle that hotel owners can sympathize with, but as Kristine Rose, VP of brands for Hyatt pointed out, “Internet connectivity is no longer an amenity. It has become an integral part of travelers’ daily lives and a basic expectation. Travelers shouldn’t have to remember which brands or locations offer it for free or the strings attached to get it”. Hyatt was the first non-luxury major brand to offer free WiFi to it’s guests and the brand sees the decision as an absolutely necessary one.
While one major traveler concern is that the WiFi be free – the other major concern is that the WiFi be fast and reliable. For hotels that advertise free WiFi but provide a slow, unreliable service, the negative impact on guests can be just as great as not offering it at all. In fact, many guests simply will not return to a hotel after a bad WiFi experience. High quality, managed WiFi is a must and hotel owners need to look to proven WiFi brands, like Spot On Networks, to ensure that 1) the guest experience is a positive one and 2) that network issues that do occur are handled quickly and do not interfere with hotel operations.