Free Fast Hotel Wifi

This from Larry Mogelonsky writing on HotelInteractive caught my eye. Here at Chanters Lodge we count ourselves lucky if we can go 24 hours without a break in our wifi. Fast broadband? Never really heard of it. One of our ISP’s says we are on ‘4G’ but it is very slow – perhaps a Zambian 4G is different from 4G in other places. Anyway here’s the piece detailing how important fast free wifi is to hotel guests and therefore occupancy.

“I realize that Westerns aren’t exactly the most popular genre of novels or films these days, but I believe the following comparison still stands. Back in the Old West, the gunslinger who draws the fastest wipes out the competition. Replace the word ‘gunslinger’ with ‘hotel WiFi’ and the same can be applied nowadays.

If you aren’t providing free WiFi to your guests by now then you are doing them a great disservice. Guests expect this for free much like they do heating, air conditioning and tap water (or at least have the costs buried into the nightly rate). It’s 2014, so get with the times.

But it’s no longer just about offering complimentary internet connectivity, but giving it out at a satisfactory speed. To comprehend why fast is just as important as free in this regard, you should first understand the theory of cognitive drift. The basic idea is that if a website takes too long to load, users lose interest. This varies based on patience levels but I’d ballpark it for millennials at around one to two seconds.

Many hotels now offer free WiFi to customers (definitely a good thing) but slow connections frustrate people. It makes them impatient. It makes them feel like they are being slighted. Free WiFi that’s slow rings of false advertising; you’re marketing a service to guests to get them through the door but then you don’t sufficiently fulfill your end of the bargain.

I’m sure you can recall your emotions at a time when you were a victim of false advertising. It’s not great, hateful even. I doubt you’d want those feelings bestowed upon your property for something as small as failing to offer adequate free wireless connection rates. Do yourself a favor and get up to speed (pun intended).

One other note is the use of smartphones and tablets for browsing. I’m not one to tout endless numbers to prove my point, but if you were to look up any current statistics on the topics, no doubt you’d find that these mobile devices represent a very sizeable portion of total internet traffic in relation to laptops and desktops.

Seeing as how smartphones and tablets are wholly reliant on WiFi or 3G/4G, this puts extra emphasis on getting your internet running with enough bandwidth to support an abundance of users. Moreover, websites generally do not load quite as quickly on mobile devices as on computers, further driving home the need for lightning fast WiFi.

While delivering fast and free WiFi to all your guests is a noble goal that I’m sure every hotelier would love to see realized sooner rather than later, for many of us it’s simply not feasible – not with our budgetary constraints and not with the way consumers voraciously gormandize bandwidth through the likes of streaming videos (eg. Netflix) or gigabyte downloads (eg. torrent files). We have to find a middle ground, a compromise as we ease into a world where free internet connectivity becomes the expected norm.”


It’s The Guest’s Story!

As usual, HotelInteractive making a whole load of sense via Larry Mogelonsky!

“One of the better trends that’s taken hold in the hotel industry of late is the notion of delivering an ‘authentic local experience’, or at least thinking in terms of a holistic experience instead of merely a room with its features, all the other property amenities and the staff. We often discuss a hotel in terms of the ‘narrative’ it offers to who visit. But in order for us to successfully deliver what consumers want, this narrative must change from the hotel’s point-of-view to that of each individual guest.

Although it’s a step in the right direction to even contemplate what a property’s narrative is, any efforts along these lines may prove to be a tad blindsided or self-centered if you are only considering what the hotel is doing. In terms of coalescing all operations – guest services, décor, amenities, loyalty member perks, local authentic experiences – into the semblance of a unique ‘narrative’ for your property, you should instead aim to meld them from a guest’s perspective.

It’s a minor tweak in how you approach guest relations, but it can elicit very positive results. The key here – and I say this as objectively as possible and without any inherent misanthropy – is to assume that your guests are selfish. Assume that they are rushed for time, tight on cash and only have enough energy to serve their immediate needs. Superseding any ‘narrative’ you bring to the table, you should be asking: How will this (whatever ‘this’ is) benefit a guest’s story?

Even though it’s your hotel, your property, your team, your operations and your amenities, each guest can only see things his or her own way. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. Notice the repetition of the word ‘your’ though. If you really want to deliver an exceptional experience for your guests, you have to steer away from the attitude of bringing guests into ‘your’ narrative and instead focus on helping guests fulfill ‘their’ needs and realize ‘their’ dreams.

As such, you should set each new customer as the protagonist, and then train and position your staff to be attentive supporting characters for each new story that graces your domain. How this philosophic shift is applied in real time to your operations is a far more complex matter that is best articulated on a case-by-case basis. And most of those cases will come through in the form of day-to-day, bread-and-butter interactions between your staff and hotel guests.

These are the fine print changes that might go unnoticed if not otherwise instructed. For instance, instead of starting a reply to guest request with a “We can’t…” or “Our policy is that…” begin with a positive response to bring you both onto the same page. Or, rather than introduce new features of your hotel, ask guests first what their plans were and what they hope to gain from their stay with you (and then launch into the sales pitch!). It’s subtle changes like this that will make your staff feel compassionate and win over guests.”


Who Are Your Guests?

Interesting piece here from HotelInteractive about who’s travelling and why. Interesting too that they talk about the ‘booming’ hotel business in the US at the moment – can’t say it is in Livingstone but if things are picking up in the States, that can only be good for future prospects. 

Here’s the piece, slightly edited. The picture? What some of our Guests do when they come to Livingstone!

We all know the hotel business is booming, but looking specifically at who that business is coming from isn’t something we’ve really dug in to. Until now. So who is that consumer knocking at your door? Turns out there are a healthy mix of leisure and business travelers that are combining to make this a very robust time. Toss in ever increasing group business – those folks booking 10 or more rooms at a time and we have a situation where all there major demand groups are doing what they need to do, demanding rooms.

Recovering group business, however, is helping hotels push rates, even if a specific hotel does not focus on group business. As group demand becomes more solid they can get higher room rates for the remaining rooms to sell to transient guests. Plus those with more groups displace transients which sends them to other hotels so those hotels can push rates too. Lodging demand and lodging pricing remain headed in the right direction.

A big chunk of that leisure business is coming from non-vacation trips, which have become more popular in recent years. Research points out that for personal leisure travel, 32 percent travel for special events such a soccer tournament, 28 percent are on the road visiting friends or relatives while 4 percent take trips for medical or health care reasons. Most interesting is that 10 percent are taking trips to events like personal improvement expos or conventions like ComicCon.

People are also vacationing more in spring and fall, which has created a much longer and stronger travel season. Shoulder seasons are growing, it is no longer just summer. Even for vacations summer is still strong but many are pushing their trips into spring or fall. D.K. Shifflet & Associates research also points out that while Baby Boomers make up the vast majority of travelers now, the coming of travel age for the millennial generation combined with the passing away of the Silent Generation is quickly changing the typical age of people traveling. By 2020 Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers will each be traveling in roughly equal numbers.

This means hoteliers will have to take several different approached to appealing to their target guests. It also means hotels will have to continually focus their properties on niche customers if they want to create strongly definable product, we believe. One concern for hoteliers is social media of course. Many prognosticators say it is hyper critical to dive in to this emerging communication medium. But is it as important as many believe? For Facebook less than 15 percent of online posts have anything to do with the hotel itself, which 50 percent post photos and 30 percent discuss travel experiences; which usually are more destination specific.

But it’s also more generationally specific. Just over half of all millennial travelers are posting while that number drops to around 35 percent for Genn X and about 22 percent for Baby Boomers. As for Twitter, about 5 percent tweet on travel experience while about half that number tweet on hotels. He said 57 percent of business travelers use a mobile device to access the internet for travel information which is up from 40 percent in 2010. For leisure travelers 38 percent use a mobile device to access the internet for travel information, up from 11 percent in 2010.