Hotel Internet Services recently conducted a survey of over 500 hotel guests to determine how significant a role Wi-Fi was in their travels. Then to understand the hotelier side, some 200 hoteliers were surveyed to get their input on this all important service.
The survey investigated what devices guests carried, their Internet habits and desires and what they needed as well as wanted from their digital hospitality experience. This included the importance of streaming for guests with its native need for increasing bandwidth, which of course leads to the need for a more robust Wi-Fi network.
Gary Patrick, President of Hotel Internet Services, explained the scope of the study:
“We service over 150,000 rooms with Wi-Fi and Internet related services. Not only do we provide Wi-Fi itself, but we also provide 24X7 guest support as well as maintaining the Hotel’s WIFI system. Because the Internet is an ever changing and evolving organism it is imperative that we not only hear from our clients (the hoteliers) but very importantly the guests who actually use the network. We can then take this information and experiences from the guests and improve our products and services. This valuable info is also available to our clients so they can better plan for the future.”
Some of the notable points:
Guests are carrying more and more devices. Over 75% have smartphones, 68% laptops and nearly 62% take their tablets on the road. Wearable technology is starting to show its face and will make more of an impression as these devices proliferate throughout the marketplace. In short, more devices demand more bandwidth and robust Wi-Fi networks are a necessity.
Guests and hoteliers alike are tuned in to Netflix, Hulu, iTunes, etc. Streaming content is still an emerging technology embraced by nearly half of the respondents. They want to watch what they want when they want and of course where they want. The room’s television has become a focal point with guest’s desire to access personal streaming content as well as hotel amenities including housekeeping, in-room dining, billing, checkout, etc.
Wi-Fi has become omnipresent in many hotels. It pervades everywhere from lobby to restaurant to shopping areas and the pool. Guests want to be connected everywhere not just in their room or in the business center. Wi-Fi is no longer an amenity. It is a utility like electricity and water, just different pipes.
Monetizing the network
So how can you monetize free Wi-Fi? One solution is to go to a tiered pricing system, where guests are paying an extra fee to access more bandwidth. Most guests (53%) are amenable to paying for an upgraded Wi-Fi speed up to $4.99. As streaming becomes more prevalent, expect that percentage to increase as well.
Upgrading the network
It is significant to know that more than 50% of the Wi-Fi networks of the hoteliers surveyed are over 2 years old. These networks are just not sufficient for the number of devices that guests are using. 45% said they intended to upgrade their Wi-Fi network with approximately 40% planning to do it within the next two years. The balance are not planning to do anything for 3+ years.
A complete copy of the survey results can be obtained at: http://www.hotelwifi.com/wifi_study/index.html