Wi-Fi: Low Cost, High Opportunity

With the US hotel industry enjoying resurgence in spite of the trying economic landscape, there may be no better time than right now to tap into additional revenue streams that Wi-Fi access make possible.

According to the Hotel Operating Statistics (HOST) Study for 2010, compiled by STR, the US hotel industry ended 2010 with $127.7 billion in total revenue, up 0.4 percent over 2009. While this may seem like a modest increase, it is an increase nonetheless and one that can easily be built upon.

Studies Show That Wi-Fi is Important Fact in Guest Satisfaction

By now, it’s common knowledge that hotel guests not only desire Wi-Fi access — they demand it. Consider the results of a 2010 J.D. Power 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. In virtually every industry segment, Wi-Fi access topped the list.

Similarly, a 2004 survey conducted by the Hilton Dallas Lincoln Centre found that two-thirds of guests made their decisions on which hotels to stay in based on the availability of wireless Internet access.

Wi-Fi Issues Can Result in Major Loss of Revenue

For a more concrete example, consider the case of a very large, very well-known hotel I recently worked with. This particular hotel had a shot at hosting a convention that would have brought more than 6,000 attendees through its doors. Like the aforementioned survey respondents however, conference organizers ultimately opted to hold the event at another facility elsewhere in the country because – you guessed it – it had Wi-Fi access, something the other facility did not.

Using round numbers, let’s assume the 6,000 guests each paid $100 per night to stay in the hotel. A three-night stay would have grossed the hotel somewhere around $1.8 million. Add in the amount guests would have spent on meals and other amenities and it’s not a stretch to say the facility lost upwards of $10 million in revenue — all because it didn’t have Wi-Fi access.

Think Outside the Box on Wi-Fi Revenue Potential

Missed opportunities only represent one source of revenue that could be realized with Wi-Fi access. Charging for daily access, using Wi-Fi to host advertising specifically tailored toward guests or even enabling carriers to offload part of their traffic to your network in exchange for a monthly fee are all ways you can realize additional revenue streams.

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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