A recent survey by hotels.com found that customers rate free Wi-Fi as the most important in-room amenity which is not so surprising in this day and age where we expect constant connectivity for our mobiles, tablets and laptops.
As little as a couple of years ago it was the norm that when you checked into a hotel you’d ask for the price of Wi-Fi. This is now changing with more and more hotel chains and independent hotels offering this service free as standard. Thankfully we have moved on from being given a tiny strip of paper upon checking in with a code typed out!
Ironically it was hotels at the budget end of the scale that were the first to offer guests free Wi-Fi. In 2009 an article in the New York Times noted that staying at Starwood’s Aloft budget hotel meant free Wi-Fi but if you stayed at the upscale W Hotel it cost between $12.95 – $16.95.
Earlier this year the Telegraph reported that on a survey of European hotels over 90% now offered free Wi-Fi, however in the same article UK hotels did not fare well and three of the top 10 cities for free Wi-Fi were Manchester, London and Liverpool. Charges ranging from £6 for one hour to £20 to 24 hours.
Cafés, shops and even airports now offer free Wi-Fi so why are all hotels not offering free Wi-Fi for their guests? One of the issues with a lot of the major hotels is that the buildings themselves are owned privately. Management contracts are signed with the owners allowing the hotel to be run under the brand standards of the hotel chain. It is to the discretion of many hotel owners whether they offer free Wi-Fi to guests and many big brands such as Sheraton, Marriott, Westin, Hilton and Intercontinental will only offer it in the public areas.
With guests paying, in some cases, exuberant room rate it’s a wonder hotels don’t build Wi-Fi charges into their rates therefore appearing to offer this service for “free” is bewildering.
What are your experiences of Wi-Fi connections in hotels? Are you happy to pay or do you expect this to now be a free service?