When was the last time you went to a hotel and marveled at the speed and quality of your WiFi? Take your time…We’ll wait…
Public WiFi in this country has become synonymous with air conditioning and indoor plumbing; we expect that all businesses should have it, maintain it and allow us access to it anytime for free. Can you imagine checking out and finding an AC charge on your bill? Of course not, but will are all insulted when the $400 room we booked wants to charge us $14.95 for WiFi, per device, per day!
And rightfully so… A survey conducted by J.D Power last year found a 65 point drop in customer satisfaction when guests had to pay for WiFi. NY Times recently reported that guests feel passionate enough about it to stay elsewhere as a result. I can assure you that in the race to change that reality, guests and hoteliers interests are neck and neck.
Now this isn’t bad expectation to have, but internet access like everything else costs money. Someone needs to pay for it, and historically it’s been the consumer. But it might surprise you to learn that the biggest barrier to getting your iPad on line by the pool during your next vacation has less to do with covering the cost of providing WiFi and more about the lost revenue associated with it. Those daily charges add up – to the tune of Millions of dollars a year for the hospitality industry alone. The Wall Street journal said recently that charging for WiFi allows the hotel to “…boost per-night revenue by 5% to 10%”. Business owners need to not only pay for the WiFi infrastructure, but find that lost revenue elsewhere.
This transition away from the pay-per-use model started years ago when McDonald’s and Starbucks inadvertently led the charge, but hotels in the US have had a hard time making the transition. HotelWiFiTest.com recently observed that our hotels ‘state side’ ranks highest in the number of free WiFI hotel locations, but the lowest in quality.
There are several solutions to this problem that may seem easy for you, but has remained a challenge to big wigs at major hotel chains until recently. They are getting closer to solving this, but it’s a transition that isn’t happening quickly enough for most guests. Here’s a few roads hoteliers are traversing on the quest for quality WiFi;
Get revenue by advertising
You would think this would be a no-brainer, but break it down. You know that annoying web page that jumps out at you as you try to log in? (Usually asking for a room number or credit card info). That ‘splash page’ is the single opportunity to feed you an ad. How much is that single impression worth? It varies – more if there is a trade show or conference in the hotel, less if the clientele isn’t as attractive to a potential sponsor. Either way, it’s only a single impression. Until now…
TalkingWiFi is a new technology that provides hoteliers a perpetual ad opportunity because the ‘impression’ rotates up to every 15 seconds. This adds quite a bit of ‘meat on the bone’
Shift the budget bucket
Most facilities view WiFi as an exposure or liability. Customer complaints, cost of deployment cost of maintenance; these burdens usually rest on the often skinny, overworked shoulders of the IT department. Flip this around – the marketing department can easily use this asset not only generate revenue, but actually increase business. Food and beverage, concierge activities or simply ‘more heads in more beds’ – hoteliers can use WiFI to sell more of the services that REALLY impact their bottom line.
Get smarter with Insights and analytics
As the adage states; “The 3 keys to success are location, location and location”. This doesn’t just apply to where the hotel is located, but what’s going on INSIDE it as well. Proximity marketing solutions offer several really cool ways to see where you are walking and predict your behavior and buying patterns while you are there. I know, I know – the ‘big brother’ thing scares you. Most WiFi and iBeacon (bluetooth) solutions have no access to your personal… well.. anything. They can’t tell WHO you are or what you are doing, they simply calculate THAT you are there. These analytics can be extremely valuable to business owner who is trying their hardest to understand what you as a consumer are looking for and how to deliver it to you. For example; if they noticed that a large number of people are stopping at the restaurant in the lobby immediately before going to the pool it could justify them providing pool side service.
All of the above
Imagine that you are at a really nice hotel with your family. You get on to WiFi in your room after delays and layovers to find late dining options and receive a message telling you that room service is open until midnight along with a 10% off code for any order. While you are waiting for the food, you learn that the hotel offers child care as well as beach-side candle lit dinners. The next afternoon while sitting by the pool reading the NY Times on your tablet, you learn that you can order a cocktail from the comfort of your lounge chair simply by clicking the link provided. Finally, that night while at your beach side dinner, you use WiFi to check in for the next day’s flight when you learn that since you choose tonight’s romantic dinner, the hotel wants to offer you a free night on your next visit.
Hoteliers want you to have all your needs met while on location probably more than you do. They know that the best way to get you back is to ensure that you enjoy your time now. If they are still charging you for WiFi – or are providing service that is less-than-stellar – tell them. They may not realize some of the options available that will “help them help you” and like Jerry McQuire, “show them the money!”