Hoteliers urged to offer free internet

Guests rate technology as top priority, according to survey

Guests should be able to surf the web free of charge
Guests should be able to surf the web free of charge

Close to 50% of travellers ensure a hotel will meet their technology demands before they book, according to a new survey from Reuters Synovate.

The survey, which questioned 6300 people across 10 countries, including the UAE, revealed that high-tech facilities are now the top criteria travellers look for when choosing a hotel.

The Hotel Show exhibition director Maggie Moore said the results emphasise the need for hotels to “ensure guests enjoy a technology experience which matches or exceeds what they have come to expect in their homes or offices”.

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“The survey showed that a whopping 47% of travellers now make sure a hotel caters to their technology needs before they book,” said Moore.

“It is clearly no longer recommended for hotels to make wireless internet an added cost feature. Business and leisure travellers expect to be connected at all times just as they are at work and at home,” observed Moore.

Emaar Hospitality Group CEO Marc Dardenne commented just last week during a panel session at Arabian Travel Market that he “still can’t believe that some hotels are charging travellers for internet”.

Dardenne said that internet should be available for free, regardless of whether a property catered to the business or leisure market.

Banyan Tree Al Wadi general manager Pascal Eppink agreed, explaining that the Al Wadi desert resort in Ras Al Khaimah, a luxury, intimate retreat due to open after the summer, would offer wireless internet free of charge.

“People expect it from us,” said Eppink.

Moore added that the Reuters Synovate survey also revealed that 39% of respondents in the UAE researched online every hotel in a particular area to make an informed choice.

This was higher than the global average of 19% of people researching all possible hotel options online.

Moore said: “The now critical importance of online technology has been underlined with this survey, showing that plugged-in hotels are likely to get more guests checking in.

“This is proving particularly true in the technology-savvy UAE,” she added.

The Hotel Show, which takes place at Dubai World Trade Centre from May 24-26, features a dedicated Security and Technology section and also three tech-related seminars at the Seven Star Conference, which runs alongside the trade show.

The seminars will cover in-room technologies, technology and design, and technology for profit.

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