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In-room broadband: why hotels need to change

20 · OCT ·2015

According to PwC, occupancy levels in UK hotels are set to grow in 2016 (and were predicted to spike in London during Q4 2015 due to the rugby world cup – which, of course, may have changed due to the England team crashing out early). The hotel industry is notorious for its business issues – tight profit margins, occupancy rates that vary depending on weather, economic conditions and travel trends – hoteliers need every advantage they can get to ensure a profitable business. Hotels have charged for extra luxuries for years, from small treats from the mini-bar to larger indulgences like visiting the on-site spa. Some hotels treat in room internet connectivity the same way as if it were a luxury. Perhaps, ten or 15 years ago, being able to go online from your hotel room was a treat, but can we really say the same today? A recent White House report classified broadband internet as a core utility. It argued that broadband is as essential to a community as electricity, water and a functional sewerage system. In a world where being able to connect to the internet is seen as a fundamental right, shouldn’t hotels ensure that they provide this service? Should they provide the service for free?

Exceeding expectations

Guest reviews are vital in the hotel industry, and working in a service focused industry means that hoteliers must focus on not only meeting the basic expectations of guests, but exceeding them. Only then will they be more likely to leave a positive review, recommend the establishment to friends and family, and become repeat visitors.

Charging for in-room wi-fi has become a significant factor in many guests approval. People are used to getting free wi-fi these days, so finding out that they have to pay for the privilege of connecting to the internet during their hotel stay acts as a considerable annoyance. Rather than pay, many guests will decamp to the nearest Starbucks. The hotel loses potential profit, and the guest is annoyed. Not only that, but if hotels want guests to review their stay online surely they shouldn’t have to pay for the privilege. Even high-end travellers expect free wi-fi, as the Economist reported: “A study by Resonance, a tourism consulting firm, found that travellers worth more than $1m say that free Wi-Fi is the amenity they value most when choosing a destination—more so even than privacy.” So, how can a hotel profit from providing in-room connections, without alienating guests? Hotels should provide a free basic wi-fi connection, but some clients will need something more. Perhaps a password protected, secure connection. Business customers, or those who want to stream films or games to their room, will be able to do so if they pay for the higher tiered service. Modern hotel guests want a personalised service, and one of the ways hoteliers can fulfil this want is to provide them with an internet connection that changes based on their personal needs. Not everyone needs to watch a conference live-stream from their room, some people just want to check email, and these people shouldn’t have to pay a premium.
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Posted by Sanita Karra