Changing Wi-Fi From Amenity to Opportunity

In my previous post, I cited a 2010 J.D. Powers and Associates study in which more than 53,000 guests who stayed in hotels between May 2009 and June 2010 were asked which amenity they felt was most important when choosing a hotel.

Almost across the board, Wi-Fi access topped the list, with complimentary breakfast barely edging it out of the top spot in only one market — the mid-scale limited service segment.

Wi-Fi Should be an Asset – Not an Amenity

While the actual results of the study are important for the obvious reasons, it also brings to light one very significant fact: Most people, hoteliers included, still view Wi-Fi access as an amenity.

I may be biased, but I certainly don’t put the ability to connect a laptop, mobile device or iPad to Wi-Fi to access work files or download entertainment in the same class as pillow-top mattresses, free parking or a flat panel TV. For me, it’s more of a necessity than a luxury.

And for you, as an hotelier, it should be more of an asset than an amenity.

Can You Take the Cost of Wi-Fi Off the Guest But Still Make Money?

Again, as mentioned in my previous post, there are several ways that Wi-Fi can be used to open new revenue streams. One of the most overlooked options is using Wi-Fi to host advertising geared toward guests. Consider the following…

Upon my check-in during a recent stay at a hotel, I was given a coupon for 10 percent off an off-site restaurant. Now I’m assuming the restaurant didn’t pay the hotel to give the coupons out. More likely, there was probably a quid pro quo arrangement between the restaurant and hotel – both would promote the other. And while this is no doubt good for both businesses, the effect was not very concrete. Did it have an impact on either entity’s bottom line? Probably not in any tangible way.

What if the hotel had told the restaurant that it could put a dynamic, full-color ad on the landing page guests see when they log on to the Internet using the hotel’s Wi-Fi in their rooms? The same coupon would be there, providing guests with a benefit, and the restaurant would still receive more customers than it might have otherwise.

But more importantly the hotel would see, depending on advertising rates, an additional $200 to $400 a month in revenue. Depending on the market, it wouldn’t be unrealistic to say the hotel could offer the same deal to 10, 20….even 100 other local businesses. Before long, that revenue stream turns into full-blown river.

The average guest might still view Wi-Fi access as an amenity.  But you should view it as an opportunity.

Free Webinar to Learn More

You can learn about these opportunities as well as the latest trends in hospitality wireless, the secrets to successful deployments, as well as how to make the most of your existing infrastructure by attending my HFTP webinar entitled “Why Mobility?” on Thursday, Sept. 15 at 2 p.m. CST. To learn more or to register, visit the HFTP web site.

Shawn Tsetsilas is the director of Wireless Mobility at CSI (Cellular Specialties, Inc.). He has 15 years of experience in data networking and security with Cabletron, Enterasys, Nortel and 3Com. His area of expertise is working with customers to determine their long-term business initiatives and aligning the appropriate technology solutions. He has a BS degree in Business Administration from the Whittemore School of Business, at the University of New Hampshire.

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