A decade ago, if you looked to the future of the hotel business, would you have guessed that Wi-Fi connectivity would be the most desired amenity for guests and that lack of satisfactory Wi-Fi would lead to negative reviews and lost bookings. Today’s guests don’t just want to be connected — they demand to be. Statistics indicate that 65 percent of hotel guests are using Wi-Fi within seven minutes of arriving on-site. And as mobile devices, online content streaming services and the Internet of Things (IoT) continue to experience widespread adoption, uninhibited, reliable, secure access to Wi-Fi is hardly considered a luxury; rather, it is a baseline expectation.
With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that the first edition of the Hospitality Technology Sentiment Survey revealed the continued demand for a critical, yet often frustrating, amenity: Wi-Fi. When respondents, comprised of both hoteliers and vendors, were asked to name the top technology-enabled features they always use when staying at a hotel, Wi-Fi topped the list. Even further, when asked to detail the one technology that causes the most frustration when booking or staying at a hotel, respondents frequently cited poor Wi-Fi connection.
Consider the following scenario: You’ve just arrived at your hotel following a long flight. You roll your bags into the lobby and scan your surroundings, appreciating the recent renovations and attractive signage. The pool area is beautiful, and the view from your room is spectacular. The only problem? When you get into your room, you’re unable to connect to Wi-Fi. You call down to ask for the password, and, despite your devices saying they’re connected, you can’t seem to load any pages in a reasonable timeframe. Admittedly, this will make it rather hard to get any work done — and will contribute to an absurdly expensive data charge on your mobile device.
Although Wi-Fi may seem like a rather simple, understated amenity, its influence on the guest experience should never be underestimated. In fact, studies show that more than 90 percent of guest respondents cite the ability to access a hotel’s Wi-Fi is ‘very important,’ while another 58 percent name Wi-Fi service quality as being ‘highly likely’ to impact their booking decisions. And yet, more than 80 percent of guest respondents revealed that they continue to encounter an unsatisfactory Wi-Fi experience at hotels.
During a HITEC interview with the HospitalityNet team, David Chestler, Principal of the Revenue Catalyst, elaborated, “My frustration is greatest with single sign-on. I have to sign on in my room; I have to sign on in the lobby, I have to sign on in the restaurant. I just want a single sign-on… please help me with that.”
Laurent Idrac, COO at hapicloud.io, shared this frustration as well, explaining, “I see so many nice innovations and people are looking at the icing on the cake, but they don’t look at the cake itself. One of the fundamental needs is Wi-Fi…”
This brings us back to a simple, but ever-important sentiment in the hospitality technology space: Nothing works, if it doesn’t work. Simply stated, hoteliers and guests alike are unable to reap the rewards of exciting technological innovations, if properties have not yet addressed the foundational needs and issues, such as Wi-Fi connection quality. Any cutting-edge offerings are sure to be undermined by a lackluster Wi-Fi service experience, and it’s imperative for hoteliers to ensure they have streamlined and perfected this aspect of the hospitality experience. Wi-Fi is, after all, seemingly at the top of every guest’s wish-list and represents a non-negotiable service metric in the modern hospitality landscape.
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