Wi-Fi most important hotel feature, survey says

A good night’s sleep isn’t as important as Internet connectivity, according to a recent report.

I’m going to age myself here by recalling for you the days and nights I have spent crawling around under hotel beds attempting to hack phone jacks. That grubby activity was in order to connect my then-glamorous 1989-launched Sharp Wizard PDA, or Personal Data Assistant.

This scrabbling and dubious-sounding enterprise was so that I could access pre-web CompuServe, the first major commercial online service. I used it to read home news in the room. It was a pursuit that was otherwise unattainable in those days.

The alligator clips, a number of fried modems—digital switchboards introduced around then killed modems—and an acoustic coupler, along with the Wizard itself, have long been assigned to the computer dump in the sky. Ah, fond memories.

Connectivity, duh?

But fast forward, because for many years now, I have chosen abodes based on laid-on Internet availability.

So I was delighted to see that, 25 years after my misspent youth phone-jack hacking, that the hospitality industry has finally twigged that it’s connectivity we nomads are after.

Finally, a hotel chain has gotten around to asking customers whether they think Internet is important or not. And—surprise, surprise—the answer is a resounding yes.

And what’s more, not only are the customers saying it’s important, but they reckon it’s more important than anything else, including, it sounds, chocolate on the pillow. Which in my experience only gets in your hair by morning anyway.

The numbers

UK four-star hotel chain Amba Hotels found that 67% of the 1,000 users it polled thought free Wi-Fi was the most important factor when choosing a hotel. It was more important than a good night’s sleep, which came in at 58%, and friendly, knowledgeable staff, at a lackadaisical 40%.

Free Wi-Fi was, in fact, roughly on par with location. Location was in at 65%.

Drilling down, the numbers re-enforce travel folklore:

A whopping 84% said that they had suffered, at one time or another, because of slow hotel Internet.

A third, or 33%, have not been able to receive or send vital work emails, and 8% reckon they have lost business clients or an opportunity because of lousy hotel Internet.

One customer told Amba Hotels that he thought there was “nothing more frustrating than having to pay for rubbish Wi-Fi,” or even worse, being told that the Wi-Fi was free, but then finding it slow and limiting in the “amount you can up and download.”

Another 34% said they wanted fast Wi-Fi with unlimited downloads.

Why the importance?

While it was asking guests about choice considerations for travelers, Amba Hotels also asked what they used Wi-Fi for, providing some insight into just why we want Internet.

The results were, in order: checking social media (58%), checking directions (54%), sending and receiving work emails (49%), local travel tips (43%), Skype calls (31%), and dating sites (11%).

I reckon you could add chocolate removal how-to searches too. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to just go and wash my hair.

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