Travel website hotels.com not long ago published the results of a survey on hotel amenities asking travelers to identify the most important features in selecting a particular property. The most popular was the availability of free Wi-Fi access and that this amenity overwhelmingly factored into the decision on which hotel to book. Thirty-eight percent of travelers reported that free Wi-Fi played a part in their decision as a “must” to stay at a specific hotel, 35 percent reported it is the simple amenity they want to see more in hotels, with 31 percent wishing it would become a standard in all hotels in 2012.
We see this trend towards “have to have wireless access” – in a hotel, airport, or at the office as being consistent with our own analysis. According to the Cisco Visual Networking Index (VNI), 36 percent of all current Internet traffic is being delivered over Wi-Fi. By 2015 that number will reach 46 percent, with less than 10 percent of traffic being delivered over cellular networks. Soon Wi-Fi will surpass wired traffic. For me, I confess that hotel Wi-Fi is in fact a deal breaker. No Internet means I can’t easily connect to the office, and I don’t want to burn my 3G data plan for office access unless it’s absolutely necessary.
At Cisco, we hear from our wireless carriers that the availability of Wi-Fi is a strategic initiative for them to offload data customers away from crowded cellular frequencies and on to local Wi-Fi services. Operators are looking at both licensed and unlicensed (Wi-Fi) technologies to meet this demand. One option is increasingly of interest: Wi-Fi small cells. Wi-Fi has become ubiquitous in nearly all personal mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, cameras, and game consoles. What’s more, Wi-Fi technology is improving every day. Robust carrier-grade Wi-Fi networks have the ability to outperform 4G networks and are secure, and now next generation hotspots offer roaming that is as transparent as cellular roaming. To meet the spectrum challenge, Wi-Fi provides 680 MHz of new spectrum to operators.
What do you think? Does having Wi-Fi access, free or not at a hotel make a difference when you book? And would you favor a hotel that provided seamless Wi-Fi access (meaning, no need to log in) to your mobile device?
Join the conversation in the comments below.
Note: Infographic credit to hotels.com