Skift Take

It’s less about the actual hardware that hotels provide guests and more providing connectivity so that they can use their own devices to customize their stay.

This is an extract from our newly released e-book the Future of the Guest Experience — an unprecedented collection of 28 interviews with the CEOs of virtually all of the world’s top hotel groups including 11 global brands, 13 luxury and lifestyle brands, and four hotel marketing organizations.

If there’s a subject nearly every traveler can agree on, it’s that hotel Wi-Fi should be as fast and as cheap (read: free) as possible.

By collecting their thoughts on a similar set of topics–from technology and marketing to fees and training–we have tackled the hospitality’s most pressing topics from every angle and gained a glimpse at what the future of hospitality will truly look like.

Below are quotes from the e-book that address travelers’ insatiable demand for Wi-Fi and how and why hoteliers are coming around to free access.

Christopher Nassetta, Hilton Worldwide

The big thing that we hear from customers and that we’re very actively trying to respond to is Wi-Fi charges. I think where that is headed, and we’ve tested it and rolled it out, is a tiered pricing plan. Customers have said that there is a basic level of Wi-Fi that they want, that’s a normal part of their life.

It’s like turning the water on when you want to take a shower or flipping a light switch and expecting the power to come on. It’s about, as we talked about earlier, choice and control. The digital existence is so much a part of our existence.

Stephen Holmes, Wyndham Worldwide

Access to the Internet is something that is, basically, like oxygen. Millennials are very technologically savvy and very aware of what’s available out there. They want to utilize all the resources that are available to them to make sure that they’re having a great experience.

The one fee that I find, as a traveler, the most offensive is Internet fees. The majority of our hotels, at least domestically, don’t charge Internet fees. I think that Internet is something, like have the electricity or the water running, should be available.

Wayne Goldberg, La Quinta Inns & Suites

What’s really changed today is that it isn’t about giving the guest the technology. It’s about giving the guest the capability of leveraging all of the technology that they’re traveling with.

Wi-Fi is a great example. We changed our minimum bandwidth standards from a minimum of six megs of bandwidth to a minimum of 50 and then up to 100 megs of bandwidth. The guest have told us, and they have made it very clear, that they want to stream video and use multiple devices. In our segment, in our space, bandwidth and high-speed are always free and we have found a way to do this in a way that gives the guest what they expect, what they have mandated, and still being able to afford to deliver it free.

Greg Dogan, Shangri-La Hotels

We were the first group to offer Wi-Fi free throughout the whole group, which now includes the inside all of our cars. We’ve taken a bold move not charging for it. When I travel to other hotels, I’m still surprised at the exorbitant prices being charged in some of the cities.

Sonia Cheng, Rosewood Hotel Group

It is a global trend that Wi-Fi is going to be complementary and eventually all hotels will have to comp it.

Carl Michel, Generator Hostels

We have invested in upgrading our Wi-Fi across all of our hostels. It’s has to be fast, because people are streaming more, and it has to be free, obviously. We wouldn’t dream of charging for Wi-Fi and I think hotels that do are, frankly, on the way out.

Nicholas Clayton, Jumeirah Group

Jumeirah is also one of the first in the luxury sector to offer free Wi-Fi in all their hotels. That was differentiating for quite a while. Whether customers are there on business or on leisure, they still want it.

The average family carries two, if not three, devices with them and they need that bandwidth. Another is to make sure it easy to stay connected with the devices and we’re hyper-sensitive to adding international outlets. If you make it easy for them, people notice is.

Craig Reid, Auberge Resorts

The inside of our hotels have an organic quality and intimacy where I would say, in general, we are less gizmo-focused. However, being able to provide a platform for our guests to link to their world with free Internet and hot-spots is key. We use technology to track our guests’ preferences in a very soft and understated way. Ultimately, it’s how you harvest that information and make sure that it’s done in a way that is respectful of their privacy.

Larry Korman, AKA

Technology is important, because at the end of the day people want a strong complementary Internet connection to watch their own content from the comfort of their living room or bed. When people leave home, they want technology, wellness, and cleanliness.

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Tags: foge, wi-fi

Photo credit: Wi-Fi in a hotel lobby. Porto Bay Hotels & Resorts / Four Seasons

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