If hotels are looking to win over more guests to book direct, the easy way to do it is to offer free Wi-Fi. According to the new report "Hotel Technology Study: How Do North America-Based Business Travelers Use and Feel about Hotel Technology?" from the Global Business Travel Association’s research and education branch, a majority of business travelers say they would book a room directly with a hotel if it meant they would get free Wi-Fi.
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 to book directly in exchange for free Wi-Fi or high-speed internet. But the reality is most can obtain free basic Wi-Fi by simply being part of a loyalty program regardless of booking channel.
Internet access still reigns supreme for business travelers when it comes to hotel technology. 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.
Business travelers are interested in using a variety of technology amenities that most hotels do not currently offer. The most commonly indicated amenities are more regular outlets and USB outlets, offering streaming services, and in-room chargers for laptops and/or phones. Millennials most commonly chose streaming services as a preferred amenity they would be interested in while medium- and high-frequency business travelers most commonly chose maintaining “guest profiles” to deliver a personalized stay.
“Hotels have room to expand the capabilities of their mobile app as well as promote increased awareness of those capabilities as the interest is there,” said Monica Sanchez, GBTA Foundation director of research. “In the future, hotels could invest in innovative new technologies, but should also continue to focus on improving existing amenities, especially Wi-Fi as that remains most important for business travelers.”
Sixty-one percent of business travelers have downloaded at least one of the seven major hotel chains’ apps on their smartphone in the past year, with more than half of those travelers (54 percent) having at least two, and one-quarter downloading at least three.
Business travelers most often use hotel apps to check the status of a reservation (43 percent), manage their rewards points or account (43 percent) and book a hotel stay (39 percent). In general, business travelers routinely use hotel apps and are largely satisfied with their use of hotel apps for various purposes in the past year.
One-quarter of business travelers indicate using mobile check-in on their last business stay at a hotel with millennials and gen X-ers doing so at a much higher rate than baby boomers. If keyless entry expands, travelers will likely use mobile check-in more frequently, the report says.