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Marriott to offer free wi-fi to all its Rewards member

Marriott is breaking the old internet template used by many hotel chains.  Lower priced hotels, including lower end Marriott properties (eg. Fairfield Inn, Courtyard) have offered free wi-fi for some time.  Upper end Marriott properties have been charging for the use of wi-fi, except for top-tiered Rewards members.

 

Effective January 15, 2015, all Rewards members at all hotels will receive free basic wi-fi.  Non-Rewards members will still have to pay at upper end hotels, but it's free to become a Rewards member so it's something everyone staying at Marriott should consider.

 

Premium wi-fi (faster up and downloads) will be available at a fee, except it will now be offered free to Gold and Platinum members starting January.

 

More on this story from Skift at this link.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

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I will say one thing for Airbnb, as compared to hotel resort fees: With Airbnb, before you click, you see the total of what's included, and what goes to whom. The resort fee and some of the others are often a surprise on arrival...

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

And let us not forget the dreaded "resort fees".  Defined as meaning anything the hotel wants it to mean.  And charged whether we use the facilities it's said to cover, or not.  Look in the dictionary for the definition of "chicken shit" and you'll find "resort fees".  If everyone must pay it, it should rightly be included in the room rate.

 

Even my favorite, AirBnB, makes options available for hosts - cleaning fee, security deposit, a charge for more than 1 person and even possibilities for other unnamed "additional fees".  All opportunities for ill-will among the people they're cultivating, new users of the site, who don't understand what they'll be charged until they see the bill and are outraged by the discrepancy between what they thought it would cost and the real bottom line.

Last edited by PortMoresby

While business travelers are important to those brands, Marriott and the others make a big pitch to fill those rooms with vacationing and weekending families and couples, too—and I'm sure you've seen a lot of them there.

 

As you point out, the cost of WiFi for business travelers is usually absorbed by the company, so it's hard to see why this new benefit would be attractive to them, since it's already essentially free for them. 

 

So it seems obvious that the benefit is, in fact, aimed at the leisure part of their market—and if it's only an annoying bait-and-switch for the premium product, it won't have the desired effect.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

The main clients of larger upscale hotels are business travelers, not mom and pop travelers.  These are the same travelers that pay 10x what we pay to fly at the back of the plane for the privilege of a slightly larger seat and being able to get out 4 minutes before I do.  Most don't care about wifi charges because their businesses pick them up.

 

I think Marriott's action is a step in the right direction and they should be applauded for it.  I've been a premier Marriott member for years so I get free wifi in whatever of their properties I stay at, but that's not the point.  Paying for wifi and parking are 2 of my pet peeves and I avoid it whenever possible.  I think like soap and shampoo, it won't be too long before wifi is included in the room rate.

Twitter: @DrFumblefinger

"We do not take a trip, a trip takes us".  John Steinbeck, from Travels with Charlie

When you have a high-speed data plan on the phone, it can get eaten quickly when used as a hotspot, especially when the whole family is on devices! But if these chains want to be viewed by their customers the way many people view Spirit Airlines...they're on the right track!

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

It makes me wonder who they think is their target upgrader.  In this age of data plans, most people who want or need fast access already have it.  It seems to me not a very well thought out marketing plan.  Having it free for everyone would make them more in goodwill than a few paying for it.  For those, like me, who are more annoyed by the ploy than I need the service, it's definitely a losing proposition.

I think you're exactly right, PortMoresby. For quite some time, we've looked mostly at the inexpensive chains precisely because they offer clear and valuable perks: Free breakfast, free parking, free WiFi.

 

Our occasional high-end hotels through Priceline have sometimes moved the per-room fee down to a lower tier, but after you've paid $20/day for parking, $11.99 a day for WiFi...not so lower!

 

The two-tier WiFi issue is becoming a bug for me, too. I recently stayed at a DoubleTree by Hilton in the DC area and at a Ramada in Ithaca NY. Both had free WiFi, but in both cases it was slower than dial-up. Each promptly offered me—for a fee—a faster service. I've begun to feel it's a real bait-and-switch: Offer a free useless service, and then collect from those unwilling to do without.

 

I suspect the Marriott offer on those grounds.

The best part of every trip is realizing that it has upset your expectations

In my experience, loyalty is built with perks the customer doesn't have to think about or read the rules to decipher.  I always stayed at the same hotel in Tucson prior to flying out because they were happy to let me leave my car indefinitely.  I didn't have to figure it out. The wifi issue is the same, just give it to everyone.  Nickel & diming leisure travelers will, I suspect, often lead them to look at other options every time they book a hotel.  

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