Study Reveals High Importance of Wi-Fi

WiFi

The iPass Mobile Professional Report 2016 analyses some of the biggest connectivity trends affecting mobile professionals in the U.S. and Europe. The report highlights the fact that today’s mobile professional is heavily reliant on Wi-Fi and is increasingly choosing Wi-Fi over other connectivity methods. Furthermore, many professionals are making their travel choices based on the Wi-Fi experience. Here’s a look at some trends:

Wi-Fi more important than sex, chocolate, or alcohol
Internet connectivity has become an essential part of our daily lives, to such an extent that Wi-Fi has surpassed many other human luxuries and necessities in importance. Forty percent of respondents said that Wi-Fi is more important to them than sex, chocolate or alcohol.

Mobile professionals would choose a Wi-Fi hotspot over mobile data services
Mobile professionals want to go Wi-Fi first. Despite mobile data services being instantly available to users on the go, those services still have a way to go in terms of catching up to Wi-Fi in terms of speed, cost, convenience and performance. Our report shows that 63 percent of respondents would choose a Wi-Fi hotspot over mobile data services.

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Mobile professionals are choosing their hotels, flights and destinations based on Wi-Fi connectivity
Wherever people are and whatever they are doing, they expect to be connected. Seventy-two percent of people have chosen a hotel based on the Wi-Fi experience, with 21 percent saying they do so all the time. A further 35 percent of respondents stated the Wi-Fi experience had influenced their choice of airline.

Employees know the security risks of public Wi-Fi, but many still use it anyway
Sixty-six percent of respondents say that they are worried about the security of Wi-Fi hotspots. However, 42 percent have accessed corporate data via public networks, and many (38 percent) have never used a VPN (Virtual Private Network) to help secure their data.

Patricia Hume, iPass chief commercial officer, sat down with LODGING to shed light on these discoveries.

As companies work to meet the connectivity needs of guests, how are they ensuring that their security measures are also growing to protect from cyber threats?
By now, every guest expects Wi-Fi; and the majority of those guests want it to be free and easy to access. Still, there hasn’t been as much of a focus in the hotel industry, on offering a secure Wi-Fi option.

How have Wi-Fi offerings shifted in the last few years?
There is still an ongoing battle with regard to Wi-Fi. Customers want a consistent user experience; and they want it for free. But hotels, in particular, experience a cost with offering high-quality Wi-Fi services. So they will offer a “free” version, which only lets guests check email. This is where hotels do not meet the expectations of their guests who want a user experience similar to the one they enjoy at home. Most hotels will also offer a paid version, which provides a faster user experience, but at a cost.

Hotels are moving toward a “freemium” offer: a tiered, free and paid option between which guests choose. The problem with that model is the following: giving guests different options does little to address their needs, especially when they can only check email on one of the options. In general, guests will balk at paying for Wi-Fi; they view Wi-Fi no differently than they do their pillows or shampoo; something that should be included in the cost of the room.

How do companies cover the cost of Wi-Fi as they increasingly offer it for a cheap fee or even free?
For hotels, simple, seamless and secure Wi-Fi creates customer satisfaction. Customer satisfaction creates brand loyalty. Brand loyalty creates revenues. Wi-Fi pays for itself.

With customers choosing hotels based on Wi-Fi connectivity, what can hotels do to show guests that they have the best offer?
The concept of the best offer is tough to define. Some guests just want Wi-Fi to check their email (and they want it to be free). Other guests want to be able to stream video, use FaceTime or download large files. For hotels, having the “best” means providing all of these options, in other words treating Wi-Fi like any other benefit or differentiation point. So what does that mean for hotels? Instead of making guests choose between two “bad options,” hotels should take the decision out of the hands of their guests by providing a seamless and secure offering. It’s really important. Most hotel surveys state bad Wi-Fi—and not other amenities such as room service, pillows, bedding, etc., is the top reason guests give for low satisfaction scores.