The short answer is: very. Travelers these days are bringing all kinds of devices with them and they fully expect to be able to connect to the internet with all of them. Your guests want to share their photos, watch their movies, and play their games from anywhere on the property. Fast, high-quality wifi is no longer an amenity, but an expected necessity, like indoor plumbing. You wouldn’t charge your guests extra to use the toilet, would you? Well, you could, but you would be inviting a barrage of terrible reviews. And as everyone in the vacation rental industry knows, it’s your reviews that can make or break your property.
In the ongoing fight between hotels and vacation rentals, access to free wifi is one of the areas where hotels are lagging behind. One of the standard-bearers for the industry, Marriott, was recently fined $600,000 by the FCC for illegally jamming guests’ personal wifi hotspots while charging $250 to $1000 per device to connect to its own wireless network. When hotels do offer free wifi, most of the time it is only in public area and it is typically of poor quality. A recent survey by JD Power found that of the 20% of guests who reported a problem with their hotel stay, a third was for problems with their internet.
Consider for a moment that over 90% of business travelers list quality wifi as major priority, and one third of them would consider a lack of it to be a deal-breaker. Additionally, 27% of travelers in the United Kingdom would refuse to stay somewhere without free wifi. In fact, when asked, they ranked access to wifi higher than luxuriousness of accommodations. Free wifi consistently ranks number one in surveys of desired amenities by travelers, both business and leisure. For the savvy vacation rental owner, the benefits of offering this service should be apparent.
At the risk of being redundant, let’s recap. Guests want fast, reliable wireless internet. On top of that, guests don’t want to pay extra for said internet. By offering free wifi, you are already setting yourself apart from most hotels and making yourself much more attractive to a huge segment of travelers. If you don’t offer free wifi, you are setting yourself up for negative reviews, which will drive away many potential guests. Obviously internet service isn’t free, but resist the temptation to pass on the cost directly to the guest. Instead, consider it an investment in future bookings. After all, what do you think your guests will be using more: the wifi or the indoor plumbing?
Free wifi is always included in Stay Alfred’s properties. Click here to view all of our great vacation rentals.