Posted by: Sarah Lee | January 12, 2010

Have free wifi? Sell it

Free wifi at the Orla Copacabana Hotel

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As I started this post I was convinced of one thing – though travellers want free wifi in hotels, hoteliers themselves don’t see any value in it. I have started a twitter list detailing hotels that offer free wifi and it has grown some, but one major problem is that hotels don’t always promote their service even on their own website.

I wondered did hoteliers really under value the benefits of providing free wifi to such an extent that some don’t even highlight it?

But just as I was typing this I had an email from Juan Lema, director of two hotels in Rio saying that Orla Copacabana Hotel and Premier Copacabana Hotel have provided guests with free wifi for nearly ten years.

“We believe this is, and has become, an essential service. Like hot water.” said Juan. “Hotels still see internet access as a source of revenue, and it is, but we consider wifi so important it can’t be an optional service anymore. It’s like having a TV or a private bath in your room – you don’t charge guests for that.”

I think this is a very encouraging sign – if more hotels promote the service they’re offering it will make it easier for us to choose one that offers free wifi. If we vote with our feet (or wallets) it will force the issue and make more hotels provide wifi as they do other basic amenities.

Around the world the campaign for free wifi is gaining pace. It started in the blogosphere (a good round-up of the coverage can be found on London Hotels Insight) but now politicians and newspapers are joining the call – check out these pieces from Adam Kirby at Hotels Magazine and the Washington Post, which also offers ideas for how hoteliers can make wifi networks work for them.

The provision of free wifi is becoming a hot issue and a decision maker in people’s travel choices, so if you’re a hotelier offering free wifi tell your guests about it – post it on your website, detail it on your Facebook page. If you’re on twitter, put it in your profile page/biog and message me @sarahleetravels and I’ll add you to the free wifi twitter list.

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