Hospitality Brand Management, Marketing, Advertising, PR, and other fortuitous thoughts.

The WiFi Wall is Coming Down

Mar 2, 2015 0 comments

More and more hotel companies have realized that if I could get free WiFi in a $10 a night guesthouse in Cambodia in 2009, I must be able to get it for free in a hotel 10 or 20 times that price.  All of the major hotel companies have been saying that it has been in the works for quite some time; but “coincidentally” many have begun offering some sort of free WiFi in the past months.   We can’t get too excited yet, in some cases free wifi comes with some restrictions. 

According to HotelChatter’s 2014 WiFi report, Marriott, Starwood, Hilton, Hyatt, Intercontinental, and Wyndham did not offer free in-room internet as of the report’s April 2014 publication. 


IHG:  You didn’t see this one coming from Intercon, but they were the first to announce in March 2013 that they would begin offering free WiFi for all of their loyalty members in 2014.  This was based on an IHG commissioned study founding that, “43% of adults surveyed said that they would choose not to stay in a hotel that charged for internet”.

Marriott:  Stepping up with an October 2014 announcement, Marriott rolled out free-wifi, also only for its members, in January 15, 2015.  There is one condition, not only do you have to be a Marriott Rewards member, but you must book through or another direct channel.  Oh, and there’s another caveat, everyone gets standard WiFi, but only Gold and Platinum members get “enhanced” WiFi. 

Starwood:  Following on Marriott’s footsteps, Starwood announced on December 17, 2014 that starting February 2, 2015 you could get free standard WiFi.  Same story as Marriott, you must be an SPG member and book through an SPG direct channel.  Also, only Platinum and Gold members get what Starwood calls “premium” internet. 

Hyatt:  Coming to the party on December 22, Hyatt brought the gift of free internet with no strings attached: everyone gets free internet, regardless of booking method.  There is a mention in their press release that in some places Gold and Platinum members would have access to “premium WiFi service”. 

Hilton:  Finally.  Just today, Hilton announced through FlyerTalk (no official press release available yet), that it would begin offering free internet for everyone starting in August, must book direct.  Diamond members will have access to premium Wifi as long as they book thorough a Hilton channel. 

Aside from the obvious good news to travelers, there are some key takeaways:
  • Most importantly, hotel companies are now being able to shorten the roll out of a worldwide program like this to as short as 2-3 months.  It might not seem like a complex process to roll out a product upgrade change, but with hundreds of properties in different geographic operating areas and hundreds owners to deal with, this is a refreshing change from the usual 1+ year timeline for a corporate rollout of this kind. 
  • Free WiFi has become a point of parity (and a standard amenity in this day and age)
  • Peer pressure continues to work and hotel companies continue to follow. 

L2′s Second annual Hotels Digital IQ Index® Reveals Little Differentiation

Apr 14, 2012 0 comments

Four Seasons, Hilton and Marriott Top L2′s Second annual Digital IQ Index®: Hotels. 

In its second edition, this report is now the benchmark on hotel online brand management+ execution; and serves as a compendium of what different hotel brands have done over the year.  The study reveals that differentiated content on site and mobile bookings drive traffic and high margin revenue. The research demonstrates a clear relationship between hotel brands’ Digital IQ® and shareholder value.
“In this year’s report, an overwhelming 38 percent of brands registered an Average ranking, versus just 10 percent in 2011. The standard deviation across the Index tightened from 38 in 2011 to 21 in 2012, suggesting differentiation in digital has become increasingly difficult.”   —Scott Galloway, L2 Digital IQ Index: Hotels Author, NYU Stern
A must read for all hotel executives.

Download the Full Report from >> News of the Week

Dec 11, 2011 0 comments

The Hotel "Social Lobby" Trend Goes Mainstream and Ceases to be a Competitive Advantage

Dec 8, 2011 1 comments

A decade ago, hotels began differentiating themselves from their competition by reinventing their lobbies as social spaces, introducing unique f&b concepts, promoting lively lounge bars, and even reducing the size of the front desk to increase guest interaction.   These properties began to define their brands by their hotels' social lobby design; however, today's USA TODAY article Hotel lobbies become multi-use spaces details how every major brand now features "social lobbies".  Any hotel defining their brand by their "social lobbies" is no longer differentiated.  The "social lobby", just like the specialty beds of last decade, has gone from being a point of differentiation to being a point of parity.

The predecessor of the modern hotel were the Inns & Public Houses of years back--a place of social gathering for locals and travelers alike.  When Atlanta's Hyatt Regency Hotel opened in 1967, it was the first atrium hotel to be built, influencing hotel design for the following decade.  The opening of this hotel signaled the climax of hotels being a place of "social gathering".  This quickly changed in the 1980's as architectural and real estate efficiency became the name of the game, turning the hotel lobby into a check-in/check-out, transactional building feature.

The pendulum swung back a little over 10 years ago, when boutique hotels changed the traditional design of their lobbies, turning them into restaurants, bars, lounges, and general places of merriment.  W Hotels then branded this concept and rolled out hotels around the world, as the revenue potential was realized its parent company, Starwood Hotels and Resorts, and their competitors began redesigning their lobbies across multiple brands.  Based on past research and today's article--aside from a multitude of independent hotels--the following brands have already launched "social lobby" concepts:

Marriot Hotels
W Hotels
Le Meridien
Holiday Inn
Hilton Hotels
Hilton Garden Inn
Hyatt House

Hotel designers around the world have taken note and added "social lobby" as a required building specs.

READ MORE "social lobby" coverage on >> News of the Week

Dec 3, 2011 0 comments

hospitality brand

Hospitality Brand Management, Marketing, Advertising, PR, and other fortuitous thoughts.


This blog does not represent the thoughts, intentions, plans or strategies of my employers or clients. It is solely my opinion.