Hoteliers are in a Wi-Fi dilemma: they’re concerned about speed, cost and competition. Guests are demanding faster Wi-Fi, and they don’t want to pay for it. What’s more, they expect the speed will compare with their home connection; they travel with multiple mobile devices; and they use more streaming applications, such as Youtube and Netflix.

Providing Wi-Fi to meet guest expectations requires the installation of expensive infrastructure and monthly bandwidth charges from an Internet service provider. Limited service and independent hotels have generally been providing free Wi-Fi, while chain-branded full-service hotels generally charge a daily fee.

The problem? If Wi-Fi is offered as a free service, it’s too expensive to provide the infrastructure and speed a guest expects; if a hotel charges for it, it isn’t perceived to be competitive. The good news is hotels are adopting a multi-tier pricing model; a free or low-cost tier will give the guest Wi-Fi speed for email and browsing web pages and a paid tier will provide faster and consistent speed for video, downloading large files and playing online games. Another solution is to install a cost-effective device in guestrooms to make each room a private “hot spot,” with a fast and stable Wi-Fi signal.

To help break down the Wi-Fi expectations, check out a handful of findings from the Haleiwa, Hawaii-based “Global Travel Industry News 360 Degree Survey,” which represents more than 1,000 U.S. travellers and 600 U.S. hotel employees.

  • 88 per cent of guests expect Wi-Fi to be free

  • 41 per cent of guests have never paid for Wi-Fi access

  • 93 per cent of accommodations offer some sort of free Wi-Fi to guests


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