WiFi is no longer a mini-bar item in hotels

You know that feeling when your plane lands and you instantly power-on your cell phone before you even get off? It’s the same feeling that guest have when they enter your hotel lobby. They want to get online before even checked-in. For a simple reason – we got so used to being online 24/7 that it feels uncomfortable being disconnected from our digital ecosystem. And the very last thing you want is for your guests to feel uncomfortable in your hotel. Studies show that guests, upon arrival, will ask for the WiFi passkey within the first 7 minutes! Imagine the first impression they get when you respond by asking for those 10 dollar/euro/whatever-currency in return for internet access .. not the best welcome greeting, is it? You can bet that’s going in a review first thing they eventually go online.

Expectations evolve

Guests do not usually ask for hot water when they check into a hotel. Maybe sometime in the very distant past they did, but now they just expect to have it. Same goes for clean towels, bedspreads and a comfortable pillow. All usual things that make their stay pleasant, regardless if it’s business or pleasure. Why would the internet gateway connection be any different? Knowing that today internet is an absolute necessity, they feel they should not pay extra. In 2017 – rightfully so. Guest expectations change with time and it’s your primary job as hoteliers to follow and deliver. Hospitality is all about catering to the needs of the guests and always over-delivering.

If it’s not the cost ..

We all pay the provider a fixed internet package bill, same amount monthly. Most packages today are unlimited or with very high quotas, with speeds far exceeding our needs. Same goes for the hotels and restaurants. They might be paying little bit extra as corporate accounts, but honestly, they spend more on paper napkins than that. So it is definitely not the cost that makes them cheap-out on providing decent wifi as part of the guest experience. What is it then?

.. it’s the mindset

Not to generalize, a good lot of hotels have free wifi, some stable some not so much. Either way, they’ve figured things out. If it means investing in a better connection, the bookings you convert on having “Good WiFi” or “Free internet” in your reviews will prove a good ROI very quickly. Simple as that. Plus, by providing it, you can quickly ask the guest for their e-mail on a hotspot landing page. Guest’s e-mail addresses are an invaluable asset for creating your direct marketing strategy later on.

On the flip side of things, you’ll lose having the advantage over OTAs by incentivizing direct booking with “FREE WiFi Included”. It’s inevitable that you should continuously think of ways to attract direct-booking guest as the trends change.

Much like the practice of charging for the A/C in the summer, that many small lower-category hotels still nurture, this is non-sense too. Providing as much comfort as possible will only make you more money in the long run. So if you have a label for WiFi next to the mini-bar price list, I strongly suggest to rethink that part of your hotel marketing. Try treating your guests with free net for some time and analyse the feedback.