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Thu 9 Apr 2015 11:35 AM

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Wi-Fi, why so high?

In poll after poll, hotel guests are saying it is the most important factor

Wi-Fi, why so high?

In poll after
poll, guests are consistently showing that Wi-Fi service is the most important
factor in determining whether they a) book a hotel or b) rate their stay
highly.

In 2015, the
cost of not providing free and high quality Wi-Fi is simply too high. Most
hotels charge for Wi-Fi; and if it’s free, there is always a catch: Wi-Fi
running at 756Kbps per minute, having to be reconfigured every hour, failing
randomly and consistently, only available to rewards club members – the list of
‘free’ hotel Wi-Fi dramas is endless.

When people
travel, whatever the purpose, they rely on the internet to keep in touch with
their clients, colleagues and, most importantly, loved ones. To travellers, Wi-Fi
is a service as basic as bathrobes and body wash.

A recent poll
by booking site Hotels.com found that free and high quality Wi-Fi were the most
important in-room amenities to hotel guests.

And lest we
think that it’s only low-income or young guests who demand decent Wi-Fi -
Resonance, tourism industry consultancy firm, found in a recent poll that
guests worth $1 million rated free Wi-Fi as the amenity most important to them
when booking a hotel.

IHG polled
10,000 business travellers and found that a free internet connection was the
most important feature of the room. The results found 60 percent of respondents
said free Wi-Fi was tops, with the next highest response being TV (only 17
percent of respondents).

Braun Research also
recently released a report wherein poll respondents rated free and high quality
Wi-Fi as a more important in-room amenity than TV or even coffee.

Most hotels
haven’t caught on to this, or are stubbornly refusing to acknowledge it. Yet
cutting corners on connectivity for guests simply will not keep customers
coming.

Marriot is
allowing its rewards club members to access free Wi-Fi, but was also recently
caught red-handed blocking guests’ use of their own personal hotspots.

Shangri-La
Hotels and Resorts began offering free Wi-Fi at its 78 properties in 2009 and
now has gone a brilliant step further: giving guests free internet access in
all of the hotel’s limousines.

“Connectivity
is a vital part of the Shangri-La experience, and complimentary Internet access
has become one of our signature standards,” said Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts
president and chief executive officer Greg Dogan.

Hyatt was the
first non-luxury major brand to offer free Wi-Fi, which it announced in October
of last year.

Speaking about
the decision, Kristine Rose, vice president of brands for Hyatt, said:
“Internet connectivity is no longer an amenity. It has become an integral part
of travellers’ daily lives and a basic expectation. Travellers shouldn’t have
to remember which brands or locations offer it for free or the strings attached
to get it.”

And one hotel
boldly charges up to $369 for high quality wifi per day.

Individual or
boutique hotels often offer free Wi-Fi, but not all free Wi-Fi is equal, and it
simply isn’t enough. If your Wi-Fi is “free” but guests can’t actually use it
because it’s so slow or burdened, your staff will spend more time putting out
fires and dealing with unhappy guests – and the cost of an unhappy guest is
much higher than the cost of high quality connectivity.

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