Internet in your hotel or accommodation room is not yet the same necessity as the water you drink, the linen you sleep in or the fresh towels that hang in your bathroom, however is it the way of the future; will complimentary internet become one of these included necessities in every hotel or accommodation room?
Many of us these days want to check emails on the go, check-in on apps, update our latest status and share with friends, family and colleagues from anywhere in the world.
One of the most common questions asked in a hotel, discussed in a review or blogged about is; why do hotels and other accommodation venues still charge for internet. I am sure this is a question that pops into many heads, especially when the world has advanced so rapidly in recent years on the mobile front. Everyone has an internet capable mobile device right? Although this remains an argument many raise, fact is that not all hotel guests have internet capable devices.
Some hotels now offer complimentary internet to loyalty club members, complimentary WiFi in certain areas ie: lobby or leisure areas, some offer property-wide and yet some continue to charge full price for the service. Charges can vary considerably from hotel to hotel, brand to brand, independent to independent, however those that do charge; offer plans from 15-minutes, 1 to 24-hour sessions or even long stay rates.
Reading through reviews and blogs, some are quick to jump to the conclusion that hotels are charging an unnecessary fee, some even claim that it is price gouging, however reality is, a hotel is providing a service that they are paying for as an offering to guests and therefore on charging the associated cost of providing that service.
The real cost of providing an internet solution for hotels comes in keeping up with ever-changing requirements of guests. Bandwidth and internet speed requirements have gone up tremendously over the past few years and that requirement keeps growing and growing. Hotels are expected to meet the latest technological requirements and with that constant drive of new technology, hotels have a need to continue investing into the latest technology.
So why don't hotels offer complimentary internet/WiFi or in essence include it in their accommodation rate? Here are a couple of reasons to consider:
Many hotels have their internet solution provided by an outside third party supplier that in some cases may have installed their complete system. Such arrangements can be on a profit share basis and therefore the hotel is not in a position to offer the service on a complimentary basis.
Although a high percentage of the world's population possesses an internet capable mobile device, internet is not yet a necessity for all travellers and inclusion in an accommodation rate would disadvantage those not requiring such services.
Some may take the accommodation rate inclusion question a little further and query why the in-room mini bar is not included in a room rate because people like to consume it, realistically only a small percentage of hotel guests consume from a mini bar. The same may be asked about pay per view movies, again only a small percentage of in-house guests watch these and inclusion would disadvantage the majority guest. Television and cable TV on the other hand are included in an accommodation rate as the majority watch this media.
So how can you get that free internet in a hotel?
Consider what their loyalty program offers - some status tiers on loyalty programs include complimentary internet.
Seek accommodation packages that include internet in the rate.
Seek accommodation that offers complimentary internet, however lets face it; you are still paying for it as it's included in their rate.
Consider negotiating a better internet and roaming rate with your mobile device provider, it may prove a cheaper option than seeking a hotel that offers complimentary* internet.
*Nothing is ever free it will always be included somewhere. So is it better to remain separate and you control your spend or add it into the rate and not be able to control?
About the Author
Clinton Farley runs a multi-award winning 5 star hotel in regional New Zealand and has over 15-years industry experience. Most recently named a finalist for the New Zealand Tourism Awards, PATA Young tourism Entrepreneur of the year 2012.