Reliable Internet connection is almost as important as a comfy hotel bed - 09-09-2010

A slow, unreliable internet connection is a source of huge frustration for today’s business traveller when staying in hotels, according to independent research of 1,000 UK business travellers conducted by Quadriga. 62 per cent of respondents found having a reliable internet connection was almost as important as a comfortable bed (70 per cent) and decent bathroom facilities (68 per cent).

Jon Child, general manager at The Crowne Plaza Marlow says his customers would agree: “Our own guest satisfaction survey backs up these research findings. It found an unreliable, slow internet connection was the top guest complaint before a recent infrastructure upgrade and consolidation exercise - which saw Quadriga become our sole digital communications supplier - improved bandwidth provision and made the service more accessible and affordable for guests.”

Reliable broadband provision is a must-have in today’s hotel room and since the upgrade, the number of complaints has fallen dramatically and internet issues rarely come up. In fact, some guests are even commending the internet service offered by the hotel, which is having a knock-on effect on customer loyalty and repeat business.

Commenting on the findings, Marc Budie, technology director at Quadriga adds: “Today’s business traveller expects to find at least the same level of connectivity and technology in their hotel room as they have at home and work, to enable them to check emails, surf the internet and download content. These findings clearly show that a reliable internet connection has become a basic guest expectation in a hotel room, alongside a comfortable bed and clean bathroom. As such, hoteliers must view broadband as the fourth utility.”

However, this presents two challenges for hotels: the cost of the supply and infrastructure involved; and the management of guest expectations. For example, at home you have one broadband line serving a few people in a family. In a hotel that same line has to be split by anything from 20 people up to 300+. This obviously makes it almost impossible for hoteliers to replicate the home-for-home internet experience.

Hoteliers are often at a structural disadvantage, Budie adds: “Most homes will have at least 8 - 10mbit available. In order to achieve that same speed of service the hotel would need to be able to provide 10mbit to each guest. For a 100-bedroom hotel this would mean supplying around one gigabit of bandwidth, which is enormous and would be very expensive to achieve.”

“Providing sufficient bandwidth at an acceptable cost level whilst keeping guests happy has always been a difficult balancing act for hoteliers. This is further fuelled by the move of some hotels to provide internet access for free to gain competitor advantage,” he concludes.

“The free internet issue has always been contentious within the hospitality sector. The difficult thing is striking the balance between providing a free solution which satisfies guest demands but which is also commercially viable,” adds Child.

By managing its internet provision effectively hotels can offer guests a tiered bandwidth service. This gives the guest a choice of bandwidth level, quality and price options to best suit their requirements.

For further information about the research, please contact Berkeley PR on quadriga@berkeleypr.co.uk or 0118 988 2992.