“The world has changed,” I tell Kelly, “More people check if a hotel has free Wifi now than if it serves breakfast. “
Of course I have no stats to back this up; it’s more of a feeling. A little over a year ago I was working on the reception at a busy hotel so I know what people ask for.
“People want to be connected, they have it 24/7 at home and they expect hotels to have it too. Not just in the lobby, in the rooms and even by the bloody pool if it has one.”
Yes, I’m on a rant.
The Importance of Free Wifi
Our current hotel which stated it had Wifi simply does not.
It happens a lot. The hotel website says that free Wifi is available in the room but in practice it does not reach far past the lobby. You could get lucky but the chances are your room is just too far away.
“It’s not the cost. That hostel where we stayed in Phuket was like, £8 a night, and it had a great free Wifi connection.” I continue, “If a cheap ass hostel can give free Wifi then a luxury hotel with a spa can too.”
“I like this room and the price is great,” I concede “but we will just stay tonight and find one with free Wifi for tomorrow.” We live on the road and we stay in places for days and even weeks at a time. Having a good Wifi connection is the difference between us only staying for one night or extending for as long as we are in the area.
For some people, this might seem petty. We realize we are travelling and we don’t want to spend any more time in the hotel as we need to as there is so much to see. However, we are digital nomads and we make our income online. This is what pays for us to travel.
It’s not only people like us though. Business people stay in hotels all the time, parents can use free wifi to keep kids entertained and people can have a retreat on a rainy day when the beach isn’t an option.
My rant continues, “In just a few years it’s going to be a staple of every single hotel, it will be as expected as toilet paper. FREE WIFI! They won’t even need to advertise it. Why do hotels not realize this? Why do they not realize people are booking rooms elsewhere that offer this basic service for free? Why do they not realize that when guests have a bad experience at a hotel they will not come back? If they invest just a little bit in a good hotel-wide internet connection now, then they will be ahead of the game or at least in line with their competitors”
I know this all too well; I have inside knowledge because I have been the other side of the counter. I have worked in a 4 star luxury hotel which caters to business people all week. The website stated ambiguously “Wifi Available in Public Areas and Rooms” but that’s not really true.
For example, out of the 175 rooms only 50 or so had any signal. These rooms were of course the more expensive ones. “You can upgrade for £20” I used to say. “If not you can use it in the bar, though you will have to buy an access code. It’s £9 for 24 hours.” That really pissed people off.
Being involved in this con made me sick because they expected Wifi and the website led them to believe it was included. Some would pay, some would protest and drive to the nearby Mcdonalds.
I argued with the management, “He paid £95 for his room and he is sitting miserably at McDonalds which will give him free Wifi despite only spending £1 on a coffee.”
My protests were never taken seriously. “If they want to go McDonald’s with all the screaming kids that is up to them, if they want to sit the comfort of our hotel and work that comes at a cost” a senior manager once told me. I got a stern look as I remarked that the over-inflated room rate should pretty much cover that. Needless to say I don’t really miss that place.
So here’s my suggestion to the hoteliers, guesthouse owners and hostel managers: Get ahead of the game, do your guests a favour and start taking Wifi as seriously as they do. After all, the ones you upset are the ones more likely to know what Trip Advisor is.
I thought I would test my theory by searching the words “Hotel WIFI” on Twitter and these are some from the last hour. You can clearly see the difference between the hotels making customers happy and the ones making them unhappy. (Click here to try the search for yourself)
Sincerely hope there’s wifi in my hotel please god please
— Lou (@LouiseBassett_) August 8, 2012
Twitter on my moms phone sucks why can’t the hotel be unselfish and share their wifi
—☾✯Brooke✯☽ (@starsandscars_) August 8, 2012
This hotel has free wifi and nutella. PRAISE THE LORD.
— Tia (@Tia_thescriptox) August 8, 2012
Wifi in this Hotel fucking sucks.. I’m paying $12 a day for the next 3 days and shit is slow as fuck.. smh!
— Big Moe From Tha Sco (@BigMoe415) August 8, 2012
I think this hotel likes to play a game called ‘lets se how many customers we can piss off by switching off the wifi’
— t0psh0p_wh0r3 † (@freyamawdsleyxo) August 8, 2012
— YO ZAYN I EXIST! (@Perla165616) August 8, 2012