Why the hotel industry needs to redefine its attitude to Wi-Fi

    In anticipation of the tourist boom in Russia associated with the upcoming World Cup, domestic hoteliers should think about the quality of service. Indeed, tens of thousands of tourists attracted by football will want to visit our country again in the future and probably stay at the same hotel. In this article we will summarize a large-scale survey of hoteliers in Western Europe, which revealed certain problems with the organization of hotel Wi-Fi.

    When a person stays at a hotel during his vacation, he wants to write to his family, friends about the hotel, restaurant and room, however if he does not have Internet access, no one will read these stories. For some, this inconvenience does not matter much, but for others it can seriously spoil the impression of the hotel, and if the guest is a businessman, not a tourist, then the lack of access to the Internet will question the success of his trip.

    Unfortunately, many hotels in Western Europe underestimate the importance of providing full Wi-Fi services, although in the long run this threatens the loss of potential customers from Generation Y, who may prefer competitors to traditional hotels, for example, Airbnb, a company offering rental housing in the private sector.

    ZYXEL decided to find out how the hotel industry with the help of Wi-Fi services satisfies the needs of customers with constant access to the Internet, and interviewed more than 400 hotel IT managers in nine European countries. To our surprise, hoteliers do not consider Wi-Fi to be one of the three main criteria by which travelers choose a hotel. According to managers, these criteria are location, price and reviews (in order of priority). These data sharply differ from the results of our previous study in the UK in 2016, according to which British hotels consider Wi-Fi to be the second most important criterion for choosing a particular hotel, and almost half (49%) of the 1,028 respondents said so.

    Both businessmen and tourists consider Wi-Fi as a standard hotel service, including unlimited access to Wi-Fi in the room. The vast majority (95%) of European hotel managers agree with this opinion, but they and their guests have completely different concepts about the satisfactory quality of Wi-Fi. Guests need the same Wi-Fi services that they use at home, and they believe that often hotels do not provide such services. It is no coincidence that poor Wi-Fi is the second most common reason for complaints of hotel guests after noise in the room.

    You should not expect that if the hotel has poor Wi-Fi, then guests will use 3G / 4G to access the Internet. In many places, especially in rural areas, there is still no reliable data service over a cellular network. In addition, guests from other countries often cannot use cellular communications due to high data roaming charges, so Wi-Fi is the only affordable option for connecting to the Internet for them.

    Such frequent complaints should be cause for concern for the entire industry, however, almost a third (37%) of hotel managers said that they had no problems with their Wi-Fi service, and only 10% of them were “not very satisfied” or “quite not satisfied ”with the Wi-Fi service that their hotel offers guests. Nevertheless, more than half (52%) indicated that they have problems when guests try to connect many devices to a wireless network, with 12% of respondents constantly encountering this problem.

    According to the GlobalWebIndex index, the average number of connected devices of individual users reached 3.64, and according to Emarketer last year, smartphone penetration in Western Europe exceeded 70%. Thus, problems with Wi-Fi services will become more complicated, especially due to the transition of companies to the use of cloud technologies and the growing popularity of online video streaming services among consumers.

    Also, the hotel industry should take into account that for many people from Generation Y, the smartphone is the main gadget in their life, so they need to provide a constant connection and personalized services. So far only a few of the large hotel chains have realized this.

    Digital technologies are a double-edged sword: they give new players the opportunity to squeeze market leaders, but leaders themselves can develop their advantages and strengthen market dominance with the help of digital technologies. Although the impact of digital technologies on the hotel business is not as evident as on the media and private car rental markets, travel agencies have already encountered supply chain problems, and sites like TripAdvisor and Airbnb's private rental service are seriously changing the situation. On the market.

    The dominant position of traditional hotels is undermined by new market players, from luxury boutique hotels to budget-friendly online private rental sites like Airbnb. It seems that so far the owners of traditional hotels have not realized the importance of Internet access services for their guests. They risk losing a significant part of their customers if they do not provide them with first-class Wi-Fi services that work no worse or even better than the services of a home wireless network.

    Traditional hotels in order to remain competitive should offer attractive services for Generation Y, which has now become financially wealthy and loves to travel. For this generation, constant access to the Internet at the hotel is no less important than the quality of the room, restaurant or concierge service.

    Unfortunately, many hotels do not see anything wrong with the fact that Wi-Fi does not work well for them, although this service is also necessary for many guests, like traditional services in the room.

    A full study report is available here .

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