Wi-Fi officially free at Hyatt-branded hotels

Just prior to the end of 2014, Hyatt Hotels Corp. revealed plans to offer free Wi-Fi at Hyatt-branded hotels across an unlimited number of mobile devices or laptops, and across any number of social spaces and guestrooms. Now, Hyatt has came through on its promise, confirming that as of February 14, the free Wi-Fi rollout will be in full effect.

According to the release, the free Wi-Fi offering will be available to guests regardless of their booking method, or whether or not they are members of Hyatt's loyalty program. Platinum and Diamond Hyatt Gold Passport members will receive a free upgrade to premium Wi-Fi service in those spaces wherever available, and guests will have the option to purchase premium service in those locations.

"We continue to evolve our offerings by listening to our guests, and for Hyatt, it didn't feel natural to put barriers around something travelers view as an essential part of their hotel stay," Kristine Rose, VP of brands, Hyatt, said in the release. "More than 500 Hyatt-branded hotels and resorts worldwide are excited to now provide Wi-Fi free of charge in guestrooms and social spaces, no strings attached."

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The sign-in process to access free Wi-Fi will vary by property, and will remain a paid service in meeting rooms, where bandwidth demand varies by the number of event attendees.

This rollout is hitting Hyatt properties just as a new report was released this week showing U.S. companies spend a combined $7.3 billion annually to allow business travelers paying to stay connected while they travel. The research, conducted by Gabriel Research & Management for Amba Hotels, found the average U.S. business traveler spends $15.10 on Wi-Fi and roaming charges on each trip, and hotels and airports are the largest source of these charges.

On top of that, the FCC declared in January that it is illegal for hotels to block guests from using personal Wi-Fi networks. While Marriott International was the hotel brand highlighted for its involvement in Wi-Fi blocking, it was not a practice isolated to the brand, as many hotel groups searched for more ways to profit off of Internet use as bandwidth costs are on the rise.