That’s the conclusion from HotelWiFi‘s new report, An Intimate Look at Hospitality Wi-Fi. The company surveyed 500 hotel guests to find out their thoughts on the current state of hotel WiFi – and also asked 200 hoteliers their opinion.
The results make fascinating reading for hoteliers and hotel technology providers. You can download the full report here, but here are my takeaways…
Guests Want to Stay Connected – Everywhere
The vast majority of guests travel with some kind of device – 75.9% with smartphones, 68.1% with laptops, 61.8% with tablets – and they expect to be able to use them throughout the hotel. Obviously, 98.4% of guests want to use WiFi in their rooms, but a large number (68.6%) also want to use it in the lobby, whilst significant numbers want to use WiFi in the restaurant (46.9%) and even by the pool (43%).
So it’s no longer enough to offer WiFi in the guest rooms only – guests expect to be able to stay connected throughout the hotel.
Many Hotel WiFi Networks Are Too Old to Cope
In the fast-moving world of digital technology, a year is a very, very long time – so the fact that over 51% of the hotels surveyed admitted that their WiFi networks were over 2 years old should be a major cause of concern.
Gone are the days when guests just used WiFi to check their emails, update Facebook or read the news online – they’re now using their devices for services that require a lot of bandwidth. Services such as Netflix, Hulu or iTunes for example, which almost half of the guests surveyed said they expect to be able to use in their hotel. A hotel with a creaky old WiFi network simply isn’t going to be able to cope with such demand, and with technology such as mobile check-in and keyless entry becoming more commonplace, a state-of-the-art WiFi network is more essential than ever.
Free is Good, Fast is Better
Paying for WiFi in a hotel is becoming as unthinkable as paying for running water or bedsheets! 72% of guests said they wouldn’t stay in a hotel where WiFi wasn’t free, and with 80% of hotels claiming to provide it, they won’t have to.
But that doesn’t mean they point blank refuse to pay anything. 53% of guests said they would happily pay up to $4.99 to get faster internet speeds in their room, and over 40% of the hotels surveyed are now providing tiered internet speeds. Personally I would take this with a pinch of salt, given that the report was conducted by a company that sells hotel WiFi and thus has an interest in monetising it…
The survey essentially boils down to one point – that WiFi is now as essential as water and electricity, and guests expect to be able to access it as smoothly in your hotel as they do in their home or office. Guests use their smart devices to read their emails, surf the web, post on social media (often about your hotel!), watch TV/films and listen to music, and they’ll soon be using them to check in and unlock their doors, as well as controlling in-room lighting/temperature and accessing concierge services. Any hotel that makes this difficult by treating WiFi as an amenity or as a low priority will soon start to see its occupancy rate suffer!