Best Western has set up its own free wi-fi campaign in an effort to get other hotel groups to offer online access to guests.
The company claims that by offering free internet access it will boost British business – and I’m not entirely convinced by that rationale. Someone will have to pay for it somewhere along the line and in this case it is the hotels themselves – I’ve always argued that it’s not just the cost of internet access at hotels that riles but the nickel and diming of customers that I find really annoying. When I’ve paid a couple of hundred quid for a hotel room, I don’t see why I should have to pay another £20 or £30 just to get online.
They don’t charge for the gym, use of the pool or shampoo and soap, these are all accepted rolle-in charges where available – so why charge to get online?
Nonetheless, it’s about time someone in the hotel industry came out and started shouting about it… so well done Best Western. Perhaps now, some of the other hotel groups will join in? IGH? Hilton? Are you there?
Full press release from Best Western below:
FREE INTERNET COULD SAVE BUSINESS HOTEL GUESTS OVER £1.4BILLION A YEAR
BRITAIN’S biggest independent group of hotels has launched a national campaign encouraging free Internet for everyone, after revealing it could save British businesses a massive £1.4billion a year in charges.
Best Western offers free Internet to all guests staying at any of over 270 hotels across Great Britain – saving them more than £28million annually and now wants others to do exactly the same to help the British economy.
After studying the latest figures released by acclaimed industry market research organisation BDRC, Best Western believes that if all major hotel groups offered free Internet it could save businesses an incredible £1,431,000,000 in the UK every year.
The astonishing figure is based on BDRC statistics which show there were 106 million room nights for business travellers in the UK during 2010, with an average hotel Internet charge of £13.50 per visit.
The average frequent business customer stays away at UK hotels 11 times per year. According to the same BDRC statistics, meaning an average saving to each business person of £197.89 per year.
Now Best Western have launched an online campaign to add further weight to their cause (www.bestwestern.co.uk/freeInternet) where they are inviting others to sign up in support of free Internet for everyone.
Tim Wade, Head of Marketing at Best Western, said: “At Best Western we already offer free Internet as standard for all our guests. Based on the average cost of £13.50 for per-visit use of hotel Internet during hotels stays, we calculate we are saving each guest almost £200 and overall our guests are saving a substantial £28 million every year.
“Imagine if this was standard across the entire UK hotel industry. It would add up to a huge saving for businesses that routinely have to pay anything up to £18 every time one of their executives stays at hotel and needs to access the Internet for work.
“Not only would free Internet encourage more hotel overnight stays thus boosting the hotel industry in the UK, but it will also save businesses a phenomenal £1.4 billion every year.
“We are hugely committed to this. We are hoping our lead, and the success we have seen by introducing free Internet across our entire portfolio of hotels, can be replicated in hotel groups up and down the nation. It would be a massive boost for the hospitality industry and for UK business in general.”
What’s more with over 4,200 Best Western hotels worldwide all offering free Internet keeping in touch will no longer have a sting in the tail.
Tim Sander, Research Director at BDRC Continental and editing author of the annual British Hotel Guest Survey added; “’The importance of the Internet offering in hotels has surged in recent years. For business travellers it has developed into a hygiene factor with guests stating that the provision of the Internet is important when choosing a hotel.
‘But how much is the consumer prepared to pay for Internet? £5 seems to be a threshold in the business market at the moment but even at this price point the odds of buying or not are fairly balanced which implies that they would prefer to get it for free. Hotels still try to squeeze revenue for the Internet out of guests but this could have some very damaging consequences, as for around half of all business travellers free Internet is more important than staying with their 1st choice brand, assuming location and cost factors are satisfied. It appears to be an opinion changing product attribute and clearly gives a competitive edge. That some brands have actually retracted their free Internet recently and started charging for it seems crazy.’
Best Western is Britain’s largest group of independently owned hotels. Each of its 270 hotels are packed with personality from castles to manor houses ranging from the top of Scotland to the bottom of Cornwall.