UK hotels risk losing international and business guests through substandard Wi-Fi
9 out of 10 UK hotels believe they are delivering suitable Wi-Fi services, yet they struggle to deal with the number of devices and still charge guests to use it
Research from Zyxel has found that nearly a fifth (18 per cent) of UK hotels – the highest in Europe – are still limiting or charging guests for Wi-Fi access. The average across the continent lies at just three per cent, showing that UK hotels are at risk of disappointing European customers.
The study of 405 hoteliers in ten European markets shows that a quarter of UK hotels installed Wi-Fi to make themselves more attractive to international guests, more than any other region surveyed. Meanwhile, two-fifths (41 per cent) of UK hotels say they struggle to cope with the number of connected devices, second only to Italy at 65 per cent.
The figures come from Zyxel’s Connected Hospitality Report: Europe, which investigates how the hospitality sector in Western Europe is using Wi-Fi to support guests’ increasingly connected lifestyles.
UK hotels in particular had a high proportion of hotel guests staying over for business purposes, with 75 per cent of hotels saying this group made up at least half of their customer base. Business customers often need Wi-Fi for critical use cases and extended periods, meaning poor connections or usage caps are bound to cause frustration.
Jannik Hargaard, President of Europe at Zyxel, commented, “In a world where hotel bookings are directly related to scores on TripAdvisor, small frustrations can have a significant impact on revenue over time. Almost all guests now expect free Wi-Fi for everything from uploading holiday snaps to sending emails, making these services essential. In an attempt to squeeze out extra revenue through charging for connectivity, hotels could be shooting themselves in the foot as competitors provide a better service.”
Of all the regions surveyed, the UK has the highest proportion of hoteliers that are using Wi-Fi as an additional revenue source, or considering to do so at 38 per cent - well above the European average of 23 percent. The UK also has the highest rate of hotels looking to provide free Wi-Fi in the future at (27 per cent), a personalised mobile app (20 per cent), or an upgrade to their website (36 per cent).
Hargaard continued, “When looking to monetise Wi-Fi networks, it’s important that hotels think about the bigger picture before charging for usage. Free Wi-Fi allows hotels to communicate deals with their guests, opens up the market to business customers and allows up-selling of media services and travel packages. Importantly, providing personalised services and a great experience drives guest loyalty.”
The underlying reasons for many Wi-Fi issues are made apparent by the fact almost half (49 per cent) of the hoteliers questioned either did not have, or did not know if they had, a site survey prior to installation. 15 per cent of installations were completed by the hotel manager or another member of staff, rather than an IT professional.
“Every hotel is different and each presents particular challenges to the deployment of an effective Wi-Fi network, “said Hargaard. “Common problems include distance from access points, the thickness of walls and so on. Hoteliers are clearly not installing Wi-Fi that fits the needs of their building environment, or their guests, which is why they’re struggling with demand.”