Even the super-rich want free hotel Wi-Fi

A report on the preferences and habits of the wealthiest 1 percent and 5 percent of travelers finds that complimentary Wi-Fi is at the top of the most desirable amenity list. Fifty-one percent call it "extremely important," and 66 percent said it is at least "very important" to have at a hotel, according to a Resonance Consulting survey.

The research is drawn from a survey of 2,391 travelers. The top 1 percent was defined as those with annual income of $400,000 or more or a net worth above $8 million. The 5 percent were classified as earning at least $200,000 per year or having a net worth of $2 million or more. (The former group represented 724 of those surveyed.)

Many of the priciest hotels charge extra for the Wi-Fi simply because they can—guests are traveling for business and expensing the cost or are wealthy clients who don’t care about paying a bit more, Henry Harteveldt, a travel consultant with Atmosphere Research Group in San Francisco, told Bloomberg Business.

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“It’s a glaring inconsistency in the hotel business, and frankly it’s just a flat-out stupid approach to doing business,” he said.

The apparent gap between room prices and free Wi-Fi is not lost on many travelers. It also helps explain why so many trendy hotel lobbies are clogged with guests pecking at phones and laptops.

“It’s just a jarring inconsistency and a black mark on what is otherwise a wonderful guest experience,” Harteveldt said.