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Monday, 29 April 2013

No free wi-fi? Stay somewhere else!

Having to pay for wi-fi  at your hotel may finally be a thing of the past as many hoteliers come to realise they are losing customers because of it. In a recent poll by Hotels.com where more than 8,600 hotel guests across 26 countries were surveyed, over 66% of them said free w-fi is the one thing they want to become standard this year. In fact, 34% said they would only pick hotels that offered free wi  in the first place. To put this in a better perspective, just 11% said they would be happy to pay for it, that's a whopping 89% who won't. I was in Italy last week and most of the hotels there now offer it free, and even more surprisingly, I was offered free surfing at The Luxor in Las Vegas earlier this year. Beware though, there are still many who may seem to offer "free wi-fi" but in reality cloak it with conditions:  the first 30 minutes free a cheap trick offered by Premier Inns, as a perk for gold standard loyalty card holders, or down in the lobby area where we all huddle around the reception couches just grateful for such a generous opportunity from the management.
I remember a GM once telling me they justified wifi fees because it was provided by a third party network who offered 24 hour support, a service the hotel could not provide. This is, in my view, a load of hogwash. Hotels see it as a revenue stream the same as a mini bar, and the classier the property, the more expensive the charges get. I kid you not when I tell you I have seen a 24 hour internet charge from one luxury hotel of £25. What they should be doing, is treating it as a cost, the same as soap, shampoo or laundry. And the truth of the matter is, once they see guests leaving them in droves for the lure of free on line access from a competitor, they will change their tune. So next time you are facing an internet charge, vote with your feet and go stay somewhere else.
www.hotels.com