Fast and reliable wireless Internet access continues to be a challenge for hotels and remains a sticking point for guests who are increasingly dependent on mobile technology. According to J.D. Power’s 2013 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study, WiFi access was the top guest complaint, with 31 percent of respondents saying they had an issue with their Internet service in terms of connection and speed. And in a recent study from Forrester Consulting, 34 percent of business travelers said they would not stay in a hotel without Internet.
The debate about whether hotels should have Internet connectivity is no longer relevant, as most consumers expect it as an amenity. But all hotel wireless is not created equal. Guest satisfaction drops when service is slow and spotty—especially if a consumer pays money to connect.
In the past, the speed of a hotel’s WiFi network was not readily available to consumers until they booked a room and experienced a lightning fast or sluggishly slow connection for themselves. But Hotel WiFi Test, a new recommendation service that documents the speed and reliability of a hotel’s WiFi, is setting out to bring transparency to consumers and call out hotels with subpar service.
“Currently, not many hotels are motivated to invest in high-quality WiFi,” says Yaroslav Goncharov, founder of the service. “For most hotels, it is enough to add a ‘free WiFi’ label to the hotel description, but there is no way for potential guests to check the actual quality.”
The service works when users connected to a hotel’s WiFi network visit hotelwifitest.com and test the speed of the connection. The result of that test is then automatically linked to that specific hotel and saved in Hotel Wifi Test’s database. The results are then organized to show hotels with the best WiFi performance. Hotels with poor connectivity are bumped from the recommendation service. Users can search the site to find hotels in specific regions or cities with the best service based on user tests.
On the recommendation pages, the service provides information including the maximum speed and the bandwidth potential of the hotel; the expected speed of the WiFi service; the minimum speed provided by the test; and the confidence value, which depends on multiple factors including the number of speed tests taken, how recently the tests occurred, and the diversity of tests in terms of the time of day, day of the week, and point within the travel season.
Besides just testing connections and recommending hotels, Hotel WiFi Test allows users to engage with other consumers and with hotels by posting results pages on social media sites. When a user tweets out a results page, the Twitter handle for that specific hotel will be linked to the tweet, making hotels aware that guests are sharing the information with their networks.
“There is a reason TripAdvisor has so many reviews,” says Goncharov. “People like to help other people and to give management constructive feedback.”
The website and service is still new and is working on growing its number of users to improve its database of speed tests. But as more users begin to test hotels’ WiFi services via the site, the information provided will, theoretically, become more reliable.
“We want to convince the majority of hotels and other industry players that WiFi quality is an essential characteristic of a hotel,” says Goncharov. “Eventually, we aim to make it as easy to find precise information about a hotel’s WiFi as it is to find information about the size of the bed.”
Photo credit: Wifi Zone via Bigstock