Having free and fast hotel Wi-Fi used to be considered an amenity, but it has become an expectation. Don’t offer it and you can fall behind.
Having free and fast Wi-Fi in a hotel room used to be considered an amenity, but it’s become an expectation. A 2015 TripAdvisor study found that 74 percent of consumers, and 78 percent of millennials, say hotel Wi-Fi is the most important hotel amenity, notes Revinate. What’s more, travelers worth more than $1 million, surveyed by the tourism consulting firm Resonance, rank free Wi-Fi in hotels even above privacy as the most important amenity when choosing a destination, The Economist reports.
Sixty-five percent of hotel guests log onto Wi-Fi within seven minutes of stepping into their room, according to a recent survey by British hotelier Roomzzz reported by Travel Pulse. And when the hotel Wi-Fi is not free and reliable, guests post negatively about the hotel on social media. Guests don’t mention good Wi-Fi, TripAdvisor found, but they do complain widely about bad Wi-Fi; first about speed, and then reliability. Surveys show that once someone has a bad Wi-Fi experience at your hotel, not only do they affect their friends’ and family’s impression of your property, but they also won’t ever book with you again.
Inadequate Internet service impacts a hotel in other ways, too. Staff loses time dealing with guest questions and complaints — time that should be spent promoting the hotel in a positive manner, not a negative one. Poor Wi-Fi means fees lost when the hotel ends up refunding charges due to a guest’s inconsistent or bad Wi-Fi experience, and on technical support calls. It can mean a major loss of revenue when corporations bypass the hotel when booking conferences and other major events.
Reliable Hotel Wi-Fi Offers Many Potential Benefits
Offering fast and free Wi-Fi for hotel guests has a lot of positives. Make your guests happy by giving them easy access to their social media and they often indirectly advertise your hotel, complete with photos. (“Check out this view! Am having an amazing dinner at #hotelnamehere.”)
Resonance also found that 24 percent of all Americans update their social media accounts at least once a day while traveling, and 51 percent of 18-to-34-year-olds do. The percentage of travelers posting photos to social media is even higher. Nielsen‘s 2015 “Global Trust in Advertising” states that 83 percent of people surveyed say they trust the recommendation of family and friends. The third most-trusted format — online reviews — earn 66 percent of customer opinions. Make it easy for guests to put your name out there on social media and beyond; it could be free marketing that’s much more effective than interrupt advertising and other methods.
Hotel staff, too, need reliable Wi-Fi, both in order to give great service and to communicate with each other. Valets with hand-held devices can check guests in at the curb. Servers with wireless POS systems can take food orders next to the pool. Hotel housekeeping can be updated on which rooms are empty and ready to clean.
What Your Guests Want
So what’s important when you are considering your hotel Wi-Fi situation?
- Speed: Guests want to not only check email and browse the web, but also stream a movie or music and chat with the kids back home via Skype. You may want to check your hotel’s Internet speed (see, for instance, Speedtest) and if it’s low, you can talk with your service provider about ways to improve it.
- Signal reliability: You probably don’t want your guests wandering the walls or standing on the balcony trying to catch a signal. Consider walking around with a phone or laptop and check the connection on every floor and all sides of the building. If you find inconsistencies, you can invest in equipment to extend your signal’s range.
- Security: You might talk with your provider to ensure you have adequate security. If you can, provide guests with their own password and username. An insecure hotel Wi-Fi network means browsing can be hacked, video calls seen, and financial information compromised.
- Service: You may want to make sure two or more staff members are trained to troubleshoot. Consider keeping replacement parts on site so you can immediately replace a malfunctioning component as soon as the support team identifies one. You could also regularly review your support calls to see if there are repeating issues that should be addressed.
Some travelers often check resources like Hotel Wi-Fi Test to check hotel Wi-Fi quality before making a hotel booking. Hotels can check this, too, and identify any problems. You might consider being proactive by fixing the problem, posting on your blog about improvements and even adding a widget to your website that proudly boasts your great Wi-Fi speed. The technology exists these days to provide excellent, fast and free Wi-Fi, and hotels that don’t make the effort risk falling way behind.