Internet in hotels 'more important than breakfast'

Good connection better than a free one, but hotels still get it wrong

The panel said more guests are accessing through internet tablets and mobile devices
The panel said more guests are accessing through internet tablets and mobile devices

Hotel technology experts have said that a good internet connection in a hotel room is more important than breakfast to many guests.

“When I joined the hotel industry 12 years ago, I was told that it’s a ‘bed, bath and breakfast business’, but now it’s a ‘bed, bath, breakfast and internet business’ and for many guests, internet’s probably more important than breakfast,” said Nick Price, CEO of Netsys Technology, who formerly worked as chief information officer/chief technology officer at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group for 11 years.

Speaking on a panel entitled 'Which technology should I invest in' at the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin last week, Price said that offering a “good” internet connection in a hotel room was better than offering a free one, adding that most hotels only currently offered a bad but free connection or a paid, good connection.

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The Rezidor Hotel Group chief operating officer and executive vice president Wolfgang Neumann commented: “Rezidor is not providing internet for free [across all hotels], but the Radisson Blu is. In our midscale brand, Park Inn, we charge for wifi in guestrooms and provide it for free in public areas.

“Radisson Blu is still the only international operator providing good, free internet. Access is like hot water or the bed in the guestroom in today’s age, it’s essential to provide good access.

“Some of the players provide it for free, but it’s so frustrating when you can’t download anything because the bandwidth is limited,” added Neumann. “Last year we provided to guests quality internet by updating the bandwidth for all hotels.”

Neumann revealed that one of the most common guest complaints was that they could not access the internet “easy and quick enough and on top of that the hotel is charging for it”.

“We receive around 140,000 guest comments a year and the biggest reaction to something not working is related to wifi, even more so than not having hot water – its something the guest complains about immediately,” confirmed European hotel firm NH Hoteles chief strategy and development officer Francisco Zinser.

Price said hoteliers often imagined internet usage in hotels as business travellers on their laptops, but the reality of usage was much broader: “It’s an explosion of usage happening right before us and we have to respond to it in an intelligent way – we can’t put a dissatisfy [factor] in front of our guests,” he asserted.

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