Skift Take

The Wi-Fi utility is the be-all and end-all in the hotel industry. Get it wrong and your customers will shout about it by all means and channels possible.

Last week, we released our latest trends report, The State of Hotel In-Room Technology on the new generation of mobile first consumers, and how travel brands need to understand their needs. The report is sponsored by SONIFI™ Solutions, Inc., the hospitality industry leader in comprehensive, innovative, flexible, and dependable digital engagement and technology solutions.

Below is a short extract. Get the full report to understand this subject.

The struggle of in-room Wi-Fi is in the headlines almost daily–guests want free, fast Wi-Fi and many hotels haven’t changed their business models (some can’t even claim to provide reliable connectivity).

So consumers continue to complain, while many hotels still charge for the service. More frustrating for consumers is the fact that economy and midscale hotels offer Wi-Fi at no charge, but upscale hotels do.

Even operators recognize their shortcomings, as 23 percent of IT executives stated that they are dissatisfied with in-room bandwidth, according to the Hospitality Technology study.

Recent announcements from Hyatt Hotels and Resorts and Marriott International have given small relief to hotel guests, usually by participating in loyalty programs. On the bright side, this allows brands to differentiate themselves with free, quality Wi-Fi while the media continues to belabor the point. What lacks in the marketplace, however, is an understanding that providing outstanding Wi-Fi to a high volume of devices costs money. A lot of it. And some hotels have actually increased their daily rate for Wi-Fi in order to meet the demands of streaming content.

“We are in a tech race with our customers,”  said Steve Waldron, CIO of London-based Grange Hotels. “The Wi-Fi utility is the be-all and end-all. The quality is key, notwithstanding any debate over charging.”

He said recent collaborative efforts within the hospitality industry to set standards and protocols has made it easier for manufacturers to develop kits and sell to the industry, when it used to be an awkward and fragmented market.

“That process has reached its maturity,” Waldron said. “Now we get invited to the main supplier initiatives, because hospitality is now cool and interesting.”

According to the Hotel Technology study, almost 60 percent said they provide high-speed Internet in guestrooms free to the guest, and another 30 percent provide tiered access. The more popular choice is to offer a free level, and then up-charge for higher bandwidth needs (24 percent), and it’s increasing in popularity compared to prior years, according to the report. The remaining 6 percent of tiered-access hotels charge guests at both lower- and higher-use levels, which is on the decline, compared to 2014. Approximately 9 percent of hotels charge a flat fee for Internet access, with no price or bandwidth tiers.

Just 1 percent of respondents do not offer high-speed Internet in guestrooms.

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Tags: amenities, research reports, wifi

Photo Credit: An iPad and USB plug on a bedside table at the Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World. Skift