T-Mobile Discontinues Public Wi-Fi Hotspot Service
The App Store Onslaught

Hotel Broadband At What Cost To Hoteliers and Brands

Courtyard LogoCourtyard 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.

WRONG.

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.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Zahidtg

Andy, agree with what you are saying but it has also been observed that some hotels put their access points in a lousy fashion without proper planning, causing interference to each other. Another point is that the price charged should be reasonable as sometimes here in Europe hotels can charge 15 euros a day, which is too expensive. It has to be a balance between price and coverage.

Osiris123d

I can say for Hilton that even if the hotel is a franchise there is still a standard across all of Hilton brands (Hampton Inn, Homewood, Doubletree, Embassy, Garden Inn, etc etc). Their "Stayconnected" program is managed by AT&T and all hotel guest networks are installed with the same standards and circuit sizes depending on the number of rooms or historical data. For some brands like Hampton Inn or Embassy Suites when the wireless is free to guests it is still not free to anyone that walks by the hotel and jumps on the network. You are required to enter a special code or to type in your First and Last name on the splash page.

There has also been talks that Hilton might offer a "Premium" solution if you would like to get your bandwidth bumped up and not be hampered by the default rate limits.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)