Solving the Guest Wi-Fi Dilemma

By Marcio Avillez Vice President, Network Services, iPass | January 26, 2014

Access to Wi-Fi is now a make-or-break criterion by which travelers choose a hotel, and this is creating a challenging situation for the hotel industry. Guests demand Wi-Fi access at hotel properties, yet don't want to pay for it – they feel it is a requirement for the hotel operator to provide, just like electricity and water.

As the world's largest commercial Wi-Fi network provider, with extensive collaboration in the hotel industry, iPass understands this dilemma better than anyone, and is one of the first companies to publicly quantify how important Wi-Fi network connectivity is to travelers. How can hotel operators win in a scenario where they must provide Wi-Fi access for guests or risk losing their business, but can't charge for it? How can they recoup their costs?

In this article, we will review some of the data behind this challenge, and illustrate how the hotel industry can turn this conundrum into an opportunity. In doing so, hotel operators can effectively convert a guest's expectation for Wi-Fi access into a valuable privilege for them.

Guests State That They Must Have Wi-Fi

1. Hotel Wi-Fi is almost as important to business travelers as a comfortable bed

Wi-Fi is a driving force in the choices travelers make for hotels. In fact, hotel Wi-Fi is so important that it was rated as one of the most important features they look for when selecting a hotel-second only to a comfortable bed.(1)

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.