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Business Travelers Battle For Hotel Internet Access

Written by Ken Gaebler
Published: 2/4/2014

Business Journals report discusses road warriors' demand for Wi-Fi access and the challenges hotels face when it comes to providing wireless Internet services to guests.

In the past, finding the right business trip hotel meant selecting lodging based on amenities like room service and fitness centers. But in the current "always on" business culture, those kinds of amenities are taking a backseat to in-room Wi-Fi access--the holy grail of hotels for business travelers.

Hotel Wi-Fi for Business Travel

To lure in lodgers, some hotels offer unlimited Internet access to guests, while others continue to charge per-night fees for Internet and Wi-Fi access. But according to a recent report in the Business Journals, hotels are starting to rethink the free Internet model due to the rising cost of both infrastructure and bandwidth.

The cost to outfit a single room for Internet access is approximately $1,000, said the Business Journals. Additionally, the per-room cost for bandwidth is around $20 per month--a figure that is rising rapidly as both business travelers and families plug-in during their stay.

"Business travelers now come to the hotel with three or more devices connecting to the Net," said Nick Patel, chief financial executive of Naman Hotels. "Usage is exploding."

And heavy usage by some guests is prompting hotels to consider ways to monetize Internet and Wi-Fi access. "The cost of bandwidth has come down over the years and that used to offset the price of expanding capacity," said one industry insider. "But not any more. And when you consider that 20 percent of guests seem to consume about 80 percent of the bandwidth, well, a premium charge seems like a logical approach to recouping our costs."

The good news for business travelers is that instead of raising prices across the board, many hotels are considering a two-tiered approach. For example, Hilton Worldwide will soon implement a system that includes basic bandwidth (enough for email, social media and surfing) in the nightly rate. Guests that require extra bandwidth to watch movies or perform large file downloads will be charged a daily fee of $5.

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