MOST travellers want free WiFi, yet Australia is still lagging behind the rest of the world when it comes to its availability in hotels. So what’s the deal?
James Hacon, director of marketing and tourism marketing agency Fastrack Group,explains why.
“The most common reason hoteliers continue to charge for internet is due to existing contracts. Many properties built over the past five to 10 years would have signed agreements with internet service providers who would install the infrastructure to allow guests to connect to the internet throughout the property. These agreements come with no upfront cost, instead working on a profit share system with the hotel operator and the service provider each taking a split. This was obviously very attractive to developers, who built the properties, as it reduced their upfront costs. Now, however, the demand for wireless internet has become a basic requirement and these hotel companies have found it increasingly difficult to get out of these contracts.
As a regular traveller around Australia and to other international destinations, it is clear to see that Australian hotels are falling way behind in offering one of the most desired inclusions for modern travellers: Free WiFi.
On recent trips to South East Asia and the US, virtually every hotel and cafe I frequented had free WiFi, it really just comes as standard, but here in Australia even when paying super high rates at leading five-star hotels, we are still affronted by extortionate access fees. In some cases, during a two night stay at a hotel you can pay more than the monthly home internet charges from your average telco.
The statistics speak for themselves, in 2012 research undertaken by online travel agent, Hotels.com showed 66 per cent of respondents indicated free WiFi was the amenity they wanted the most. This percentage will have only grown with the continued increase in tablet and mobile sales across the country.
With many hotels still giving out free newspapers or offering free breakfast, why do they continue to charge for the amenity that their guest want the most?
We are starting to see a turnaround with even the biggest of accommodation providers free WiFi, although more commonly the big chains offer free connection to those signing up to their loyalty clubs.
If you are planning a trip in the near future, it’s worthwhile shopping around, as there are accommodation options with free WiFi that have comparable rates to those that don’t.”
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