Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

November 03 2014

47 Million People Are About To Get Free Hotel Wi-Fi

By David McMillin

Tired of seeing a message on your computer informing you that $9.95 will be added to your bill at checkout for using the Internet? If you’re a member of Marriott Rewards, you can celebrate some good news. Beginning January 15, 2015, the hotel will deliver free standard Wi-Fi to all 47 million members of the brand’s loyalty program. The Maryland-based hotelier acknowledged that it has been paying attention to the pulse of today’s Wi-Fi hungry hotel guests.

“Marriott Rewards members asked for free Wi-Fi, and we answered,” Stephanie Linnartz, executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial officer, Marriott International, said in a statement. “Free Wi-Fi is a meaningful way to reward our most loyal customers and continue to attract next-gen travelers.”

Linnartz is correct, especially when it comes to an emerging generation of guests. A recent study from Deloitte revealed that free Wi-Fi ranked as a top hotel attribute next to cleanliness and comfort.

SEE ALSO: Find Out How Fast Your Hotel Wi-Fi Is — Before Check-In

Will The Rest Of The Industry Follow Suit?

Marriott’s move reflects a broader industry trend. InterContinental Hotels Group began offering free Wi-Fi to its loyalty members in March 2013. Omni’s Select Guest program also offers complimentary Wi-Fi access.

While plenty of hotels have enjoyed additional revenue from charging for Wi-Fi, and it seems inevitable that other brands will fall in line with free Wi-Fi. A recent hotels.com survey shows that travelers rank free Wi-Fi as the most important in-room amenity, placing it above the shower, air conditioning and the mattress type. Who cares if you’re sweating on an uncomfortable mattress as long as you can browse YouTube?

SEE ALSO: The Future of Wi-Fi Costs at Upscale Hotels

Are You Fluent In Wi-Fi?

In-room Wi-Fi may be evolving, but that doesn’t mean that Wi-Fi will be free in meeting spaces, too. Check out “Never Feel Lost In A Conversation About Wi-Fi Again” for educational tips to use during your next negotiation.

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