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Hotels fail to provide good WiFi at own peril.

by Rajul on January 19, 2011

A recent iPass survey proves that business travellers have very high expectations of a hotel's WiFi service

We’ve been banging on about the importance of WiFi for quite a while now – and it’s pleasing to see that nowadays almost all the top-rated London hotels on TripAdvisor provide free WiFi as a matter of routine.

There is now added statistical evidence in favour of this essential hotel amenity (which, as we argued passionately in our open letter to the hotel industry, should be included in the room rate) in the form of a survey by iPass Inc – a leading provider of enterprise mobility services.

This suggests that hotels are potentially losing lucrative business customers with poor WiFi offerings, whether offering a paid or free WiFi service.  Here are some highlights from the survey results:

  • 95 percent of business travellers “care” if there is WiFi at their hotel.
  • For nearly 36 percent of business travel hotel guests —a bad experience affects whether they book that specific hotel again.
  • Business travellers aged 35-44 are most likely to complain on travel websites about poor hotel WiFi experience.
  • Business hotel guests expect their hotel to provide the same level of service as they get from their home provider when it comes to WiFi.

Although the above relates to the quality of the WiFi service overall, there is evidence to suggest that being forced to pay for WiFi is a big component of what travellers define as a “poor experience”. Other surveys confirm that hotel WiFi charges are the number 1 gripe for a lot of guests, particularly those most influential in setting a hotel’s online reputation.

Hotel 41 is currently number 1 London hotel on TripAdvisor and has free WiFi throughout (including with free computers in its lounge mezzanine area)

As leading hospitality marketing blogger Josiah Mackenzie points out, hotels should “think of WiFi as part of their overall service offering”.

It’s therefore especially unforgiveable for 4 or 5 star hotels to fail to offer a good free WiFi service…unfortunately, the London hotels leading the way in imposing huge rip-off WiFi charges are often the most expensive ones.  The antipathy felt towards hotel WiFi charges has also been expressed through an ongoing campaign by bloggers in support of free WiFi.

The iPass Hospitality survey findings quoted above are based on nearly 1,200 business travelers from around the globe. 48 percent of respondents were surveyed in Europe and Asia, while 47 percent of respondents were from North America.  You can download the report from the iPass website.

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Photo credits: Hotel 41.

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