UK hotels ‘risk losing business customers’ due to ‘substandard’ Wi-Fi

Research from Zyxel has found that 18% of UK hotels – the highest in Europe – are still limiting or charging guests for Wi-Fi access.

The average across the continent lies at just 3%, suggesting that UK hotels are at risk of disappointing European customers.

The study of 405 hoteliers in ten European markets shows that a quarter of UK hotels installed Wi-Fi to make themselves more attractive to international guests, which was more than any other region surveyed.

Meanwhile, 41% of hotels in the country say they struggle to cope with the number of connected devices, second only to Italy at 65%.

The figures come from Zyxel’s Connected Hospitality Report: Europe, which investigates how the hospitality sector in Western Europe is using Wi-Fi to support guests’ increasingly connected lifestyles.

UK hotels in particular had a high proportion of hotel guests staying over for business purposes, with 75% of hotels saying this group made up at least half of their customer base. Zyxel suggested that a lack of connectivity could lead to frustration among these customers.

Of all the regions surveyed, the UK has the highest proportion of hoteliers that are using Wi-Fi as an additional revenue source, or considering to do so at 38% – well above the European average of 23%. The UK also has the highest rate of hotels looking to provide free Wi-Fi in the future at 27%, a personalised mobile app – 20%, or an upgrade to their website – 36%.

The underlying reasons for many Wi-Fi issues were due to the fact that 49% of the hoteliers questioned either did not have, or did not know if they had, a site survey prior to installation.

Some 15% of installations were completed by the hotel manager or another member of staff, rather than an IT professional.

Jannik Hargaard, president of Europe at Zyxel, said: “Almost all guests now expect free Wi-Fi for everything from uploading holiday snaps to sending emails, making these services essential. In an attempt to squeeze out extra revenue through charging for connectivity, hotels could be shooting themselves in the foot as competitors provide a better service.”

Hargaard continued, “When looking to monetise Wi-Fi networks, it’s important that hotels think about the bigger picture before charging for usage. Free Wi-Fi allows hotels to communicate deals with their guests, opens up the market to business customers and allows up-selling of media services and travel packages.”

He added: “Every hotel is different and each presents particular challenges to the deployment of an effective Wi-Fi network. Common problems include distance from access points, the thickness of walls and so on.”

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