One of the more often debated topics in hotel technology is internet access for guests. The debate is whether to give away Internet or charge for it or some combination of the two. Many who have engaged me in this debate know that I am a proponent of a mix. I am a big proponent that if you don’t charge for electricity or water or basic TV channels then you should not charge for basic internet service. I get criticized for reducing internet access to a basic utility but this is how most of our guests look at it.
I am not advocating that you provide multi-megabit service for free. But just as we provide basic TV viewing, providing basic internet access is a standard amenity that should be provided. If you charge a resort fee to provide TV, phone and other services then including internet fees there works too.
That said I am also in the business of helping hoteliers figure out how to make money from all these technologies. With that in mind comes the idea of providing steps to our guests so that those that want a more luxurious Internet experience are able to purchase and consume it at a level that they desire.
There have been a few examples from the music industry which I believe provide a good lesson on how to serve an entire customer base. Nine Inch Nails awhile back served their segmented customer base providing songs for free to download at the low end while selling a box set of the same music with memorabilia for $300. The basic music was the same but the experience for the customer was entirely different.
I believe that the same should be true for Internet access. The base service should be free and easy. There should also be tiers that let a customer choose to experience the Internet at the level that they need or that their budget allows. Using this stepped approach ensures the customer gets the experience they want while still providing a revenue stream to the hotelier.
I acknowledge that there are other opinions on this. Hoteliers pay a significant expense installing and maintaining the infrastructure for guest Internet. But done right that same infrastructure should be providing other value as well. And overall, it should be a win-win for hotelier and guest together.