How important do hoteliers think internet access is? A new study by IT company Netgear reveals that for many, it’s still not a priority. But does it matter to customers…?
What do you look for in a hotel? Comfortable beds? Prime location? Smallest possible number of cockroaches?
What about Wi-Fi?
Global IT company Netgear has conducted a survey on that very subject. It found many of the small hotel proprietors polled - 43% - think poor or non-existent wireless internet access is an acceptable price to pay for the overall experience they provide.
But a lot of customers don't agree, and won't take poor Wi-Fi lying down. I mean, obviously they will because it's a hotel and lying down's kinda the point, but they won't be hurrying back. A third of the holiday guests surveyed said they wouldn't return to a hotel with inadequate internet access.
Unsurprisingly, business guests were even more adamant about the importance of Wi-Fi - more than two-thirds said they'd never go back if they couldn't get online.
But why do people care about Wi-Fi in hotels? Surely part of the point of a break is to get away from it all. According to the survey, no actually - many guests, particularly young ones, are nervous about missing out on everyday life.
For example, over a fifth of professionals under 24-years-old were concerned about losing contact with work. Over a quarter were worried about missing updates from friends on Facebook and Twitter. Well, at least they have their priorities straight.
There is evidence hotels are starting to understand the importance of broadband though, with 29% admitting poor Wi-Fi could lead to complaints by guests, 23% realising it could lead to negative online reviews (presumably posted when the guest gets home) and more than a third saying it could lose them repeat business.
Jonathan Hallatt, Netgear's regional director for the UK, Ireland and South Africa, said: "Smaller hospitality and leisure venues must accept that for many people Wi-Fi is now a basic need.
"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."
You know what? We're inclined to agree.