With office floors filling up again after the summer holiday season, many of us will be sharing our holiday highlights and lowlights which, for many, will centre around the lack of decent WiFi in the hotel. In fact our own research has revealed that a third of holiday makers will return from their break vowing never to return to the same hotel again - all because of unreliable or non-existent hotel WiFi. No longer just content with a comfy bed and clean facilities, many of us prioritise staying connected above all else, with desperate measures often leading to hanging out of windows just to get the faintest of signals to check out our social media channels.
Yet despite this, hotels still say it is not a priority, according to our study. 76 per cent of venues are convinced that customers care far more about quality of service and facilities than WiFi, and as many as 43 per cent believe customers think poor or non-existent wireless access is a price worth paying for the overall experience on offer.
However, the study shows that customers don't agree and are voting with their wallets. A third of leisure travellers said they would not return to a hotel that offered inadequate WiFi access, with many having to stand in hotel corridors late at night in order to connect to the WiFi, to catch up on emails and chat; or perch on a window sill with devices held over the hotel pool.
And it's not just social media that drives our desire to stay connected, with nearly one in four holidaymakers now just as worried about losing contact with work. Some respondents said they ended up having to abandon their family and spend days in local coffee bars that offered a good WiFi service.
As a society of hyper-connected individuals, WiFi access on holiday is now considered a basic need and expected service. People want to share experiences in real-time and send or post pictures and stories as they happen. Others want to keep a watching brief on what is happening back at the office. Hotels need to wake up to this fact and take action, allowing guests to choose for themselves whether or not to connect.
Whether it's a global brand or a small boutique hotel, providing a decent WiFi service should be achievable by venues of all sizes, budgets and IT expertise. For smaller, less tech savvy hotels an easy-to-implement and cost-effective solution that does not require advanced IT skills, can be installed quickly using existing infrastructure, that delivers consistent wireless access across the venue. Consistency and quality across all areas of the hotel are of equal importance - if something takes five minutes to download in the lobby, it shouldn't take five hours back in your room. If you want to keep guests happy and coming back year after year, the WiFi provision needs to be as attractive as the roof top pool and plush bed.