Accor moving to free Internet at Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel hotels

By David Flynn, September 11 2012
Accor moving to free Internet at Sofitel, Mercure, Novotel hotels

Hotels across the Accor group are looking to scrap in-room Internet charges, which remains a thorn in the side of many business travellers.

Under the plan, hotels would offer free Internet at a modest speed that’s suitable for basic web browsing and email, although this could also come with a daily limit on downloads.

However, guests who need a faster connection and no download cap would pay to upgrade to a higher-grade service.

“Many of our hotels in Asia and a few in the Pacific have already moved down the path of giving basic wi-fi access for free while charging for heavier, faster downloads to cater for streaming videos and other larger files” says Peter Hook, Accor Asia Pacific’s General Manager for Communications.

Hook told Australian Business Traveller the basic connection would be typified by “low speed and restricted download capacity, but enough for simple emails, which is the primary demand.”

The two-speed model – get slow Internet for free, and fast Internet for a fee – is proving increasingly popular with hotels.

“The key point is that travellers have to understand that providing wi-fi is not free or even cheap for large hotels” Hook explains.

“The pipe into the hotel is not infinite and just as we all have to pay at home for using the Internet, hotels will always need to be covered in terms of pricing.”

However, moving to a tiered free-or-fee system across all Accord properties will take some time, says Hook, “because many of the hotels and their owners have existing contracts that will need to run their course.”

While Internet access is free in some of Accor’s Australian hotels, others levy charges from $10 to $30 per day – costs which are seeing many business travellers invest in mobile broadband, which provides more flexible Internet access at favourable monthly costs.

Accor says that 80 per cent of its hotels offer free lobby WiFi for periods of 30 minutes per session.

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David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

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