Courtyard Logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)I was a few stays away from getting back my gold status with Marriott so over the past month I put some seven nights in at the Courtyard by Marriott in Seattle, just off of Pioneer Square. It's clean, convenient and had great broadband when I stayed there when my favorite Seattle hotel, the Hotel 1000 was booked solid. The difference in price between the uber fast broadbanded Hotel 1000 (built out by pal Chris McKewon and Xceptional Networks under their former brand name) though was staggering this year, a credit to how great the Hotel 1000's marketing is. So, since the broadband was fairly similar in experience I chose to save what would be almost $1000 in less than a month, and enjoy the Courtyard by Marriott's location, get my Gold Elite status back and still get business done.
It seems one of two things has happened since a springtime stay there. Either they went all free on Internet access, or have put controls in place to limit downloading and uploading speeds. Either that, or some of their neighbors have done a very good job of latching on to the FREE Wi-Fi.
Sadly, this is a trend I am seeing in hotels, where previously paid for, and welcomed by me, Internet access is going the direction of free as an amenity.
While I'm all for that in leisure hotels, when it comes to a hotel designed and built by business travelers, for the business traveler market (the Courtyard's original target audience USP) giving us a less than desired experience means one thing. I'll be staying elsewhere on my next trip to Seattle.
All this got me thinking. At what cost to the Marriott brand does the sub-par broadband experience have? Plenty.
As a now Gold guest, it means I have to really think about where I stay. It means that I have to start calling hotels and asking upfront, do you have the infrastructure to really be a business person's hotel or, are you really just a place for the business person to sleep, shave and shower.
Think of it this way. If the hotel couldn't provide hot water in the morning, or heat at night, the room stay would be free. Well, if they can't provide essential Internet connectivity, capable of supporting business grade communications, which today is more than web browsing and email, then the same rules will have to start applying.
Back in the day when hotel broadband first arrived, even before Wi-Fi, when the take rate for Internet that you paid for was under 10 percent my chats with the PR folks from Hilton, Marriott and Starwood were pointless. They didn't then, and still don't understand what the connected traveler needs today. Add in that most properties are franchised, and that the level of consistency varies from property to property, even on the same block by brand group or franchisee, and you quickly realize what your up against.
The solution is simple. Monitor your network. Watch your speeds and latency, jitter and buffering. Report those in some way, and in a transparent manner, so your loyal guests stay where they need to. Charge guest who need it, for faster and better connectivity to offset the extra bandwidth, hardware and software needed.
Give your guests the experience they want, that's not always limited to a good night's sleep.