Small and medium-sized hospitality venues are failing to grasp how much a reliable Wi-Fi network matters to guests, according to a new study by global networking company NETGEAR.
A significant 76 percent of hospitality venues are convinced that their quality of service and facilities are far more important to customers than Wi-Fi.
As many as 43 percent believe customers think poor or non-existent wireless access is a price worth paying for the experience on offer. However, the study shows that consumers disagree with these assumptions.
A third (33 percent) of leisure travellers say they would not return to a hotel that offered inadequate wireless access, and this number rises to two-thirds (67 percent) of business guests.
For boutique hotels, this could result in a potentially damaging drop in occupancy rates, further compounded by guests abandoning on-site restaurants and cafes for places where they can connect.
The study also shows that the boundaries between work and leisure time are blurring. People on a leisure break are now just as concerned about losing online contact with work (22 percent of young professionals aged under 24) as they are about missing updates from friends and social networks (29 percent of the same age group).
These findings are reinforced by other recent surveys that show 31 percent of UK holiday-makers rate good internet access above a clean room or a brilliant hotel restaurant, and that one in three customers will stay longer, and one in five will pay more, at a venue that offers reliable Wi-Fi.
Jonathan Hallatt, NETGEAR’s Regional Director UK, Ireland & South Africa, said: “Smaller hospitality and leisure venues must accept that for many people Wi-Fi is now a basic need. Wherever we are, whether it’s for work or pleasure, we immediately look for Wi-Fi access so we can stay in touch with our online world.
“People expect to be able to decide for themselves whether or not to connect, not to have that decision made for them. Failure to provide a reliable wireless network means customers will spend less money while they are with you, shorten their visit and never return. The financial impact of this cannot be ignored. Strong and consistent Wi-Fi should be seen as a revenue generator, not a cost.”
NETGEAR advises smaller hospitality and leisure venues to go for an easy-to-implement and cost-effective solution that does not required advanced IT skills, can be installed quickly using existing infrastructure and that delivers consistent wireless access across the venue.
For example, hotels can deploy in-room, wall-mounted wireless access points that provide fast and reliable download speeds. A central wireless controller can manage all these access points and provide a single view of how the network is performing so the venue can react quickly to any changes.
See the infographic here: http://www.netgear.co.uk/images/pdf/netgear_hospitality_wifi_infographic.pdf