We’ve talked before about the fact that more business travellers seem to be staying at B&Bs and Guesthouses in the UK: partly because they’re in search of a friendlier, less anonymous environment; partly because so many large organisations are reducing their travel budgets. That’s good news for B&Bs and Guesthouse owners. But business travellers often have different needs compared to the kinds of guests that small, independent properties normally cater for. So it’s perhaps worth re-emphasising the one amenity that matters above all others to the people who’re staying with you while they’re away from home on work: fast, reliable WIFI.
If you want more business guests you’ll have to match what’s available in larger hotels. A couple of recent surveys of the hotel sector are very informative in this respect. One, conducted by mobile technology company iPass, was based on nearly 1200 respondents from around the world. Here are some of the highlights:
- 95 percent of business travellers care if there is Wi-Fi or a wired connection in a hotel
- 63 percent of business travellers confirm, prior to booking, whether a hotel has Internet, 24 percent assume a hotel has guest Internet connections
- A poor hotel Wi-Fi experience influences 36 percent of business travellers on whether they re-book that specific hotel in the future
But this preoccupation with WIFI seems to extend beyond business travellers. Another recent survey – this one by marketing firm J.D Power & Associates – found that, “…free WiFi was seen as more important than anything else at a hotel – including factors that we’d normally consider essential like a good mattress and a decent breakfast.”
It’s also true that a WIFI service that might have been deemed adequate not so long ago, could struggle to cope today. As Jim Stewart of RIEO Communications points out in the September issue of “Hotel” Magazine: “Guests no longer arrive with one (mobile) device, but two, possibly even three, to keep them operational. These new devices will put a strain on networks deployed two or three years ago, as they were running slower technology and bandwidth applications.”
What’s true of large chain hotels is true of independent properties as well. The ideal for business travellers staying at a B&B or Guesthouse would seem to be the opportunity to enjoy a warm, personal atmosphere without compromising on the technology that enables them to get on with their work. If you add into this mix the fact that chains like Premier Inn and Travelodge are still charging for in-room WIFI access (it’s only free in Travelodge’s cafes as of September 2011 and only free to the first 30 minutes at Premier Inns as of 2012), you can see how powerful your appeal to business guests will be if you offer it for free.