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Study Finds UK Hotel Guests Demand FREE WiFi Internet Access

Posted: 30th Jan, 2012 By: MarkJ
wi-fiA new study of Hotel Guests by The Mystery Dining Company, which helps hospitality businesses to improve service to their customers through assessment reports and customer feedback, has discovered that the availability of wireless internet access ( Wi-Fi ) was an important factor for at least 8 in 10 UK people when choosing where to stay; but make sure it's FREE.

Some 76% said that they would prefer a less reliable, more restrictive (capped) and slower FREE WiFi connection to a better quality premium (paid) solution. Furthermore 99% automatically expected free WiFi access when paying £100 or more per night for their room.

Steven Pike, Director of The Mystery Dining Company, said:

"The fact most people have broadband [ISPs] at home these days, coupled with decreasing costs and widespread availability of free WiFi access in restaurants, cafes and retail operations, guests are now reluctant to pay for it and can feel as though they are being held to ransom by a venue when it is not offered for free or a nominal charge. The exception to this is if you can demonstrate that guests will have a superior service, such as a minimum connection speed.

The other big issue seems to be hotels not equipping the guest with adequate information about WiFi provision. Many found that there were either insufficient instructions available in their room to gain instant access or there was a need to return to reception in order to purchase an access card or acquire a password.

While this may not be a huge undertaking on the part of the guest it is something which interrupts the flow of the hotel experience and will add in the 'hassle-factor'."

Sadly some smaller hotels might find it difficult to afford their own in-room Wi-Fi service but there could be a cheaper fix. The vast majority of respondents (78%) said they would be willing to visit a dedicated 'Free WiFi Zone' within a hotel if it meant access to a more reliable and faster service.
Hotel WiFi Survey Highlights

* 48% of respondents said that downloading and sending emails was the main reason for needing WiFi when staying away from home.

* 39% said browsing websites and using social networking sites accounted for the majority of their hotel WiFi usage.

* 8% generally used WiFi for financial transactions.

* 1% used WiFi to stream TV shows or films on a regular basis.

* The majority of business guests said they would spend between 30 minutes and 2 hours online during each 24 hours of their stay, while one in five claimed to spend more than this online.

* The majority of leisure guests said they were likely to spend under 60 minutes using internet access.

* WiFi access was considered a very important factor when it came to choosing a hotel for 72% of business travelers, while a further 20% rated it important. By comparison 25% of leisure travelers rated it very important and 48% said it was still an important consideration.
The fact that Hotel Guests would prefer FREE WiFi to a paid service will not come as a surprise to anybody, although the service itself is clearly in demand and hotels could risk a loss of custom by failing the recognize the opportunity.
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