How Wi-Fi connectivity impacts travel decisions

Business travelers want free Wi-Fi

For mobile professionals who don’t want high data bills or exorbitant roaming charges, Wi-Fi has become a travel essential, influencing hotel, airport and travel choices. Seventy-two percent of people have chosen a hotel based on the Wi-Fi experience, with 21 percent saying they do so all the time, according to the iPass "Mobile Professional Report 2016." A further 35 percent of respondents stated the Wi-Fi experience had influenced their choice of airline. 

Perhaps more surprising is the fact that 35 percent have chosen their airline based on Wi-Fi. In the past, Wi-Fi has always been a bonus for mobile professionals. Today though, wherever people are, there is an expectation of connectivity – even at 30,000 feet, the report said. 

According to another survey on guest Wi-Fi usage, Internet access still reigns supreme for business travelers when it comes to hotel technology. According to a survey done by the GBTA Foundation, the education and research arm of the Global Business Travel Association, more than half (55 percent) spend at least one hour per day using in-room internet access for business purposes with a similar share (48 percent) also using it for at least one hour per day for leisure purposes. Satisfaction with in-room internet access is generally high with 75 percent or higher satisfaction rates for spend and connectivity, but slightly lower levels (62 percent) for security. Additionally, 73 percent of business travelers used Wi-Fi or high speed internet in a hotel common area in the past year.

Sixty-one percent used free in-room Wi-Fi or high speed internet available to all guests, while 16 percent received free in-room internet access because they booked direct, were a member of the hotel’s rewards program or had special/VIP status. In the future, a majority of respondents say they are “more likely” or “much more likely” to book directly in exchange for free Wi-Fi or high speed internet, however, the reality is most can obtain free basic Wi-Fi by simply being part of a loyalty program regardless of booking channel.

Also revealed in the iPass survey, employees know the security risks associated with public Wi-Fi but many use it anyways. Sixty-six percent of respondents say that they are worried about the security of Wi-Fi hotspots. However, 42 percent have accessed corporate data via public networks, and many (38 percent) have never used a virtual private network to help secure their data. 

Free Wi-Fi hotspots are increasingly seen as an IT security risk. In an age where data breaches make headline news on a nearly daily basis, businesses would be forgiven for wanting to shut down access to their systems from the outside world entirely. But for others, it seems the demands of modern business take priority over security. For these businesses, the benefit of having their employees able to access email and corporate data while on the go far outweighs possible IT security risks. As a result, just over half (51 percent) of mobile professionals said that their companies allow them to use personal devices to access corporate data via public Wi-Fi.