Silver, gold and platinum members of Accor's LeClub Accorhotels loyalty program will enjoy free Internet at most of the group's Australian hotels from this week.
The move sees Accor join other leading hotel brands, including the InterContinental Hotels Group and Marriott, in providing free Internet access to regular guests.
In-room Internet charges remain a sore point among many business travellers as they typically add $25 per day to the bill, even at a five-star hotel.
Accor's free Internet deal will be offered at the company's Australian Pullman, Sofitel, MGallery, Sebel, Novotel, Mercure, ibis and ibis Styles hotels, although not at ibis Budget properties.
Classic-grade members of the LeClub Accorhotels scheme will still have to pay to use in-room Internet at Accor properties, although the wi-fi signal is free in hotel lobbies.
Accor says its decision follows "an in-depth trial to uncover the best solution for both guests and hotel owners". This included some hotels offering free Internet across the board while others offered a two-tier system under which basic Internet access was free but a 'premium' service with higher speeds attracted a fee.
“We understand that most people today travel with laptops, tablets and smartphones and want to access the Internet wherever they are" said Simon McGrath, Accor’s Chief Operating Officer Pacific.
McGrath said that during Accor’s trial, guests expressed more interest in the quality of the Internet connection than the price.
Feedback showed that most guests would prefer to pay for faster unlimited Internet access than use a free system that was slow and didn’t allow them to download larger files.
“We continue to look at ways to reduce or even eliminate the cost of Internet for our guests but at the end of the day, with the current restraints and the lack of a cohesive national broadband system in Australia, we believe this model is the best model to allow the vast majority of guests to access some level of free wi-fi during their stay" McGrath said.
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