Marriott: free hotel Internet is the new bottled water

By David Flynn, May 31 2011
Marriott: free hotel Internet is the new bottled water

Hotel Internet is becoming on par with bottled water, says Marriott – something that travellers and guests expect to see in their room for free.

But, perhaps like bottled water, the more Internet you provide the more people use it.

And despite upgrading the Internet feeds across Marriott hotels, the decision to offer free Internet in Asia and Australia Marriott properties to members of the Marriott Rewards program is still pushing bandwidth to the limits.

"Before we (offered free Internet) we ramped up the speed at all our hotels, because that has been an issue for other hotels" says Simon Cooper, President and Managing Director, Asia Pacific for Marriott International.

"We upped the bandwidth and now to be frank the bandwidth still isn't enough" Cooper told Australia Business Traveller. "The percentage of streaming video is moving up and up and up, and that really chews up bandwidth."

"But we track how our guests feel about Internet access and those scores continue to improve – we've made a great effort to try and meet the bandwidth expectations of our guests."

Business travellers consider wireless Internet access as the most important hotel service which they believe should be free, according to a survey by Australian travel booking firm Corporate Traveller.

At the same, time, Marriott is clearly aware of the risks of a rise in free Internet usage causing a drop in speed, resulting in customer dissatisfaction creeping.

A study from iPass suggests that hotels that have poor Wi-Fi service and availability may be losing hotels more than a third of their business travel clientele, highlighting the increasing demand for reliable Wi-Fi connectivity.

Perhaps the most eye-opening statistic is that 36 percent of business travellers will take into account a bad Wi-Fi experience they’ve had at a hotel when deciding whether to rebook - and that for 16% of business travellers this bad experience can influence their decisions about an entire hotel chain. 

Interestingly, it’s the older business travellers that are the most unhappy when there are problems with Wi-Fi connectivity at hotels. Business travellers aged 22-34 are more forgiving - just 25% of this age bracket said that they would not re-book with a hotel where they have had a bad Wi-Fi experience. 

The findings echo the results of a Deloitte study undertaken last month, which found that 79% of those interviewed agreed with the statement "Complimentary high speed internet in my room is important to me".


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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