With the continuous, perhaps never ending growth of mobile device usage and our need to be forever connected to the world, Wi-Fi isn’t just an expected amenity or even a necessity, there is a presumption that is it readily available wherever you go – whether you are at home, at a friend or neighbors, out having a coffee, dinner, a pint, at the airport, in a hotel, even in the park! Travelers “have an expectation of ubiquitous connectivity in their lives, especially younger travelers,” Henry H. Harteveldt, Airline & Travel Industry Analyst. “Walking on the street, in coffee shops, and it frustrates them when they are told they’re offline. The traveler wants to have control over when they go online.”
For guests, free Wi-Fi in hotels is no longer a luxury like bottled water, designer toiletries, or complimentary dry cleaning. In a Hotels.com survey, guests ranked free Wi-Fi as the most important in-room amenity, guests with children cite it as crucial and business travelers consider it essential. Another, more recent survey by Roomzzz revealed 65% of guests log-on to Wi-Fi within 7 minutes of check-in, and a quarter of guests say that they would not stay in a hotel that didn’t provide free Wi-Fi. “The public’s expectation has switched from ‘It’s nice when you have Wi-Fi’ to ‘You must have Wi-Fi’, that evolution is a problem for hotels.” Max Rayner, Hudson Crossing.
Wi-Fi has become an integral part of day-to-day life and not being able to connect is seen as a huge inconvenience. While 64% of hotels worldwide reportedly offer Wi-Fi, this doesn’t necessarily appease guests – any and all T&Cs come under scrutiny, in particular connectivity and costs that might be associated with Wi-Fi access. Many big hotel brands and luxury hotels still charge guests for Wi-Fi access which travelers have likened to airlines charging to check luggage i.e. they are not happy about it.
Some guests are so passionate about by the lack of and want of free fast Wi-Fi, if it were up to them they would see an amendment to the constitution guarantying free Wi-Fi in all hotels! Perhaps a step too far, but really what they are saying is, for hotel guests, Wi-Fi has become like soap. This isn’t a nice-to-have. It is an amenity that makes the hotel a home away from home. Like towels and hot water, it is very noticeable if the hotel has chosen to leave it out. “There is pretty much universal acceptance that guests consider access to the internet as important a service as any other that a hotel can offer, beyond providing a bed and a safe environment.” Tnooz.
Nowadays, you can walk into almost any Starbucks or McDonalds and sit down to reasonably fast Wi-Fi for the price of a cup of coffee or Happy Meal. Wi-Fi access is now so universal in public spaces; hoteliers need to accept that guests expect the same free Internet once they check in. For hotels that do offer the holy grail of Wi-Fi, they immediately have an advantage over competitors. And for hotels that offer mobile services to their guests: good, free, clean Wi-Fi is simply a part of the infrastructure required. It supports your mobile strategy.
by Jos Schaap, StayNTouch