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Hotels and Wi-Fi: A tragic love story

The latest statistics on Wi-Fi in hotels reveal that internet/free Wi-Fi (opens in new tab) is currently ranked as the highest in terms of global room amenity whilst up to 36% of hotels may still not be offering free Wi-Fi and over a third of travellers would choose a different hotel if they found out it didn’t provide Wi-Fi free of charge.

Perhaps rather unsurprisingly, for many people, Wi-Fi availability is a major factor when choosing a hotel. Whether you might be away on business, a romantic getaway or a family break, Wi-Fi is seen as essential for the majority of guests who will usually have at least one mobile device with them. Business users also require instant access to documents for work emails, Skype and may require FaceTime with partners, family members, work colleagues or social media updates to stay in touch.

Being away from home doesn’t have to be the lonely experience that it once was as we are always connected – provided we are offered Wi-Fi access. Couples might want to check the weather, local restaurants, events, theatre information; groups of friends may need to update their status with photos and events and wedding guests may take pictures of the happy day that will load directly onto an app. Furthermore, families with children (who often wake-up early to eat their breakfast) can be kept entertained with game apps, music or video downloads.

But Wi-Fi customers also expect fast speeds, high quality and bandwidth for browsing and downloading – and travellers need their Wi-Fi connections to be secure.

Wi-Fi? Why not?!

It is now easy to see which hotels are leading the way in terms of Wi-Fi provision by logging onto a website that specifically reviews a hotels' Wi-Fi provision. Based on the reviews added so far (and there are hundreds of hotels included), the website confirms that most hotels now provide free WiFi and many don’t charge for basic access or a fast connection.

However, some are still lagging behind and not providing the connection that guests are expecting. HotelChatter is a daily web magazine dedicated to covering everything related to hotels around the world and have focussed their report on Wi-Fi provision in hotels. They also often name and shame hotels for charging Wi-Fi fees - ouch!

In contrast, the most forward-thinking hospitality brands are looking at ways to put Wi-Fi at the centre of their offering. Imagine walking into any hotel in a chain and being instantly connected to the Wi-Fi, no logon, no more forms and a consistent, ‘on brand’ experience. The customer is immediately connected to the Hotel Property Management System, which means he or she is effectively checked-in and can proceed to their room. Furthermore, the guest’s phone becomes their door key, taking advantage of Wi-Fi proximity, Bluetooth or NFC, the possibilities are endless. It might seem like another utopia that would be nice to have but would be far too costly, complex or darn right impossible. And yet it is achievable and with considerable ease.

By Gavin Wheeldon, CEO of Purple WiFi

Image credit: Wikipedia

Gavin Wheeldon is CEO of Purple, the intelligent spaces company. Purple’s solution allows organisations to monitor how individuals interact with their physical spaces, while providing valuable, actionable insights.