‘Internet Charging: Guests paying for Internet a thing of the past’

Acomm Management Guide Summer 2013

IS IT TIME YOU MOVED TO THE FUTURE?  THE STATISTICS SAY SO AND SO DO YOUR GUESTS.
I have written about numerous different topics recently and hope that you have found them informative and useful. YouTube TV, wardriving, data retention laws and piracy issues are just some of the topics that have been covered.

I have compiled some statistics and I hope you don’t find them boring. I find them interesting but predictable and a sign of the times.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics show that persons aged 18–24 years had the highest proportion (96%) of individuals accessing the Internet and the 55–64 year age group showed the largest increase in the proportion of people accessing the Internet, up from 63% in 2008–09 to 71% in 2010–11.

Statistics from the ABS for 2012 are not yet available.

A website by Teresa Sperti, marketing manager for a large Australian supermarket was kind enough to provide the following statistics.
• 71% of Australian Internet users check their email at the beginning of the day
• 62% of Australian Internet users use social media sites and of those users 36% access social networking sites at least once a day.
• The last thing 47% of the Australian consumers do before going to bed is check email; 27% check Facebook.
• Facebook users visit the site on average 16 times a week

We would all be living in the proverbial bubble if we didn’t look at these statistics and go “yeah so what?” The growth is to be expected but what does it mean for your business? It means that guests want to be able to get online all the time. More so when on holidays to tell their friends about what a wonderful time they are having.

The school holiday period of 2012/2013 will see a lot of accommodation providers holding their breath to see what demands will be placed on them by guests for Internet access.

Guests don’t want to pay for the Internet anymore, particularly foreign travellers.  Data in Europe and the US is inexpensive and travellers get it for free and they expect it to be free here in Australia too. Charging $10 a day for Internet access on a two-week holiday can be the deciding factor if a guest books with you.

I speak to 20 -30 accommodation providers every day and I am always surprised when they say “if the guest needs the Internet that badly, they should bring their own dongle”.

My partner and I recently travelled interstate for business. We chose accommodation that offered free wifi or charged a small fee for a large amount of data. We always carry a wifi dongle with us as our business cannot function without Internet access. Our dongle is only ever used as backup as they are expensive to use! We will always use what the hotel offers first and I think you will find that most people travelling think in the same way. Free Internet is expected.

My recommendation when talking to our clients is for them to offer an amount of data for free per day per room (eg 200Mb) and have data packages the guest can purchase if they require more. 200Mb is an ample amount of free data for the guests in each room to check their emails, read newspapers on line and keep in touch on Facebook and meet their Internet expectations. It is not enough for anyone to download a movie and suck up all your bandwidth and it also helps you avoid piracy issues for illegal downloads that you can be accountable for.

Data is what costs you, time does not. Do you really care how long someone is on line for? No. It’s the amount of data they use that you should be worried about.

Make sure you look for an Internet management system that is flexible and offers you numerous different ways of managing your guests Internet usage. There are many systems fast becoming redundant as they don’t offer options accommodation providers need to be able to ‘move into the future’. These systems offer guests a time limit on the Internet. Once you’ve logged on, you have a set period of time and then you have to go back to reception to get another ticket for access.

For example, I need to have email open all day along with our Internet based CRM. My usage is minimal. I just need to access these applications 24×7. There are many people in the same predicament, particularly if they travel for business.

Don’t be left behind. Move with the times.

By Judy Senn – Director, Time Out Internet