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Survey shows WiFi charges as #1 gripe.
Wednesday, 8th September 2010
Source : By Rajul ~

The evidence continues to mount that free hotel WiFi is now an absolute necessity -

A recent survey conducted by JD Power and Associates of 53,000 travellers found free WiFi to be the most desired hotel amenity bar none.

It’s especially striking that according to the survey, free WiFi was seen as more important than anything else at a hotel – including factors that we’d normally consider essential like a good mattress and a decent breakfast.

The survey is quoted in the Los Angeles Times and relates to the USA but the findings are validated by similar surveys conducted in other countries.

This supports the free WiFi campaign which was reinforced by London Hotels Insight’s own open letter to the hotel industry.  Further evidence that internet access is a fundamental right was also found in a BBC survey.

We have long argued that it is shortsighted of hoteliers – particularly at the luxury end – to impose charges for hotel WiFi.  That is what first motivated us to compile our popular list of top-rated free WiFi London hotels.

Another interesting aspect of the J.D. Power survey is the fact that – perversely – it’s usually the most expensive hotels that insist on WiFi charges.  The survey found that 96% of guests at mid-price hotels got free WiFi whereas none of those surveyed staying in luxury hotels received it!

Even 64% of guests at budget hotels got free WiFi – surely a wake-up call to the likes of Premier Inn, Travelodge and Tune Hotels which still fail to grasp the free WiFi opportunity that this blog has repeatedly highlighted.  There are thankfully a number of cheap London hotels which offer free WiFi.

In the face of the mounting evidence, how bizarre is it then that so many top-end hotels continue to charge heavily for wireless internet access?

Hotel 41 is the current TripAdvisor number 1 London hotel and offers free internet access (like all Red Carnation Hotels) to guests from its mezzanine lounge - when will other hoteliers get the message?

A spokesperson from the luxury Ritz Carlton chain admitted to the Los Angeles Times that WiFi charges are their guests’ top complaint.  I’ve done a quick survey of TripAdvisor comments for London hotels which charge for WiFi and also found WiFi charges to be the most frequent complaint.

Conversely, I’ve found that the vast majority of the top 20 London hotels according to TripAdvisor offer free WiFi.  And all of TripAdvisor’s current top 3 hotels in London provide free WiFi.  Could there be a positive correlation between offering free WiFi as a hotel amenity and TripAdvisor ranking?

This matter was discussed by expert hotel marketing bloggers Guillaume and Josiah on their weekly “This Week in Hotels” video round-up where they referred to the London Hotels Insight “Free the WiFi” campaign.

As Josiah from Hotel Marketing Strategies reported, hotels which provide free WiFi also tend to be more social media savvy: it’s a great way to encourage guests to use social media and write positive online comments – whether they use Twitter, Foursquare or other tools – during their stay, which is after all the time that they’re most motivated to do so.

Let’s hope the prediction by Guillaume from Hotel-Blogs that all hotels will eventually offer free WiFi by 2012 does in fact bear out.  In the meantime, we’ll keep promoting free WiFi hotels via our London hotels Twitter feed.

Photo credits: Hotel 41 (Red Carnation Hotels Collection).

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