I read an article the other day that hit on one of my pet peeves
as a traveler. The story, “Where’s the Wi-Fi?,” ran in National
Geographic Traveler (Jan./Feb. 2006), and it discussed the way many
hotels promise high-speed or wireless Internet, but fail to
actually deliver on that promise.
It seems this problem is widespread throughout the hotel
industry, and it should be a concern for agents. Even when staying
at upscale hotels, I find there’s a lot of confusion on the part of
hotel managers regarding what “wireless” and “high-speed” really
means to guests. And this confusion is not limited to any
geographic region either. As hotels realize that Wi-Fi is
increasingly important to guests, it seems like more and more
properties jump into the marketplace with claims of wireless and
high-speed connectivity, even when that connection is not fully
developed yet. Sometimes the problem is that the hotel does have
Wi-Fi, but only in an extremely limited area or via a very weak
signal that is virtually useless. Of course, that fact is almost
never relayed to guests or to agents.
This puts travel agents in a tough position because sending
clients who care about the Internet to a hotel that claims to have
access but doesn’t, can make the agent look bad. And there are a
growing number of clients that do care about Internet connections:
A recent study conducted by Holiday Inn Select found that 78
percent of respondents want Wi-Fi connectivity.
In the National Geographic article, the author, Christopher
Elliott, provides a few tips for identifying a bona fide Wi-Fi
claim from a false one, including using independent Web sites, such
as www.jiwire.com or www.hotspot-locations.com. One expert mentioned in the
article even keeps his own Wi-Fi blog at www.wifi-guy.com.
Ideally hotel managers and executives will eventually see the
value in making certain their Internet connection lives up to the
billing, but until that happens agents need to keep on top of this
issue. It may seem like a small matter to you, but getting your
facts straight on this subject is just another way agents can
advocate for their clients in the real world, as well as in the
virtual world. K.S.