The Free Wi-Fi Debate

As published in this article, 67% of European hotels offer free Wi-Fi, more than hotels in the US. However, it’s not just about “free” – adequate bandwidth must also be part of the conversation.

It’s been said that the U.S. dominates in the bandwidth game. Several other countries are in the Internet dark ages –people are still reporting dial up connections!

Commenter, Timothy O’Neil-Dunne, said it best in his breakdown, which we summarize below. It’s not enough for Wi-Fi to just be free, it must meet performance requirements of users.

  • User Interface: the sign on process should be simple and straightforward – guests should just have to agree to terms of use and click to sign on.
  • Security: does the system appear safe to login to? Further, would you trust putting your email and banking information on it?
  • Speed & Capacity: sufficient bandwidth at all times of the day is a must. No one wants to wait more than 10-20 seconds for a page to load.
  • Availability: is the Wi-Fi signal consistent between the guest rooms and the main lobby? Spotty service is a sure way to upset guests.
  • Cost: if you do offer paid upgrade options, the offer must be worth it; premium guest Internet users should be able to stream video, etc.

We believe that free Wi-Fi certainly has its place in hospitality, but we can’t ignore the rest of the picture – bandwidth, user experience, security, etc.

Do you offer free Wi-Fi? Why or why not?