It used to be that a good night’s sleep and a hot shower topped the list of hotel guest priorities. For today’s travelers, we must add “fast and reliable internet connectivity.”
At the dawn of World Wide Web, hotels provided internet service primarily to meet the needs of business travelers, who increasingly brought laptops so that they could keep up with work while on the road.
Today, with the proliferation of smartphones, netbooks, tablet computers and other devices that depend on internet connectivity, leisure travelers now hunger for more and faster bandwidth, too. For many, fast internet is far more important than HD TVs and in-room movies because they want to watch their own content on their personal devices.
Hotels are well aware of this increasing expectation and are working to improve bandwidth so that their internet service is fast and reliable. Meanwhile, guests are showing less and less inclination to pay for internet service at an additional charge. They expect it to be complimentary, which to the hotel management means “built into the guest room rate.”
The major U.S. hotel brands have gotten this message loud and clear. InterContinental Hotels Group, for example, has launched an initiative called IHG Connect to provide a seamless internet experience. The company is targeting 1,500 of its hotels in the Americas for upgraded service, including Holiday Inn and Holiday Inn Express hotels.
Upgrades will take time, but guests should see steady improvement in bandwidth and reliability. As with other evolving guest preferences over the years, hotels that turn a deaf ear to their guests’ requests do so at their peril.