Free wi-fi campaign: the first responses

So I’ve been in touch with some of the major hotel chains in the world this week to find out what their policy is on free-wi-fi and internet access – the resulting answers make interesting reading.

If you don’t know how these hotel groups work, their head offices usually manage hotels on behalf of owners and franchisees – the company doesn’t own the hotels themselves. They do, however, in most cases, have the authority to designate brand standards – if someone high enough up at Hilton or IHG told their owners that a brand had to start providing free internet access, they would.

Here are the responses from IHG, Hilton, Starwood and Marriott, along with my comments. Accor have yet to respond, as have TUI  – who also own a great number of hotels.

Intercontinental Hotels Group

Brands: Intercontinental, Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Hotel Indigo, Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites, Candlewood Suites

They say: ‘We don’t have a policy at our hotels, except at Indigo where it is brand standard. It’s up to individual owners to decide on how they price wi-fi in individual hotels [that are part of IHG’s other brands].’

Worldofjames.com says: ‘So if you can impose it as a brand standard on one brand, why can’t you on the others?’

Hilton Hotels Group

Brands:  Waldorf Astoria, Conrad, Hilton, Doubletree, Embassy Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Hampton, Homewood Suites, Home2, Hilton Grand Vacations

They say: ‘Across our portfolio of brands we offer a variety of internet choices, all with high levels of speed and security. In the majority of our hotels across Europe, access is via service providers such as BT Open Zone and Swiss Com in the public areas, while a high speed broadband connection is available in the bedrooms. The costs for these services are comparable with other major international hotel chains. Some of our brands which are new to Europe, including Hilton Garden Inn and Hampton by Hilton, do offer free wireless access to guests as part of their individual brand promises.’

Worldofjames.com says: ‘So where you charge, you do so because your competition does and you match their price. Why not make them match your price by making access free across all brands.’

Starwood Hotels

Brands: Le Meridien, Four Points By Sheraton, Westin, The Luxury Collection, aloft, Sheraton, element by Westin, St Regis, W Hotels

‘At Starwood, we fully understand that WiFi accessibility is important to our guests and we are committed to continually improve this offering globally.  Today, many of our 1,000 hotels spanning our nine brands do offer free WiFi in rooms and in common spaces. And in the cases where there is a charge, the hotels – which are independently owned and operated – determine the appropriate WiFi rate to remain competitive in the local market, just as they do for room rates and food and beverage offerings.’

Worldofjames.com says: ‘We like to be understood but no one really knows how many of the 1,000 hotels offer free access. Again, where there is a charge, it’s because everyone else does it. Try breaking the mould and see if others follow.’

Marriott:

Brands: Marriott Hotels & Resorts, JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Renaissance Hotels & Resorts, EDITION Hotels, Autograph Collection Hotels & Resorts, Courtyard by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Marriott Conference Centers, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Marriott Vacation Club, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C, The Ritz-Carlton Destination Club, Marriott ExecuStay, Marriott Executive Apartments, Grand Residences by Marriott.

They say: All our Courtyard, Residence Inn, Fairfield Inn, TownePlace Suites and SpringHill Suites hotels in the US and Canada offer free high-speed internet access, and, where possible, free Wifi.  Outside these markets phone and data communications infrastructures vary by country which makes it difficult to expand the complimentary service.’

Worldofjames.com says: ‘How unfortunate that Europe and the Far East have such third world communications structures. If only we could match those of the US, we’d be able to have free access. Blame the phone companies.’