Hoteliers should encourage loyalty, rather than enforce it

Hoteliers should encourage loyalty, rather than enforce it

Mark Elliott looks at the various methods hotels use to offer free Wi-Fi...

Mark Elliott looks at the various methods hotels use to offer free Wi-Fi...

Ovolo is offering free Wi-Fi anywhere in Hong Kong
Ovolo is offering free Wi-Fi anywhere in Hong Kong

Isn’t it nice when companies do something to help their customers without asking for anything in return?

Take the provision of Wi-Fi in hotels, for example. Thankfully we seemed to move away from the dark ages when hotels charged ridiculous amounts for in-room internet, into a more enlightened era when chains started offering free internet to all guests. But now we appear to have slipped into a strategic middle ground, with many major chains only offering free Wi-Fi only to members of their loyalty programme.

And yes, this seems like quite a clever idea. You boost membership numbers by advising all new guests that they only need to complete a simple sign-up form in order to remove hefty internet fees, and boost repeat visits by offering benefits for future stays. But no matter what the upsides are, it still leave that slightly bitter taste of blackmail in the mouth – “sign-up to our loyalty programme, or else!”

So isn’t it nice to see a hotel company not only offering free Wi-Fi, but also going above and beyond what guests expect? Ovolo, which is based in Hong Kong, recently unveiled plans to offer free Wi-Fi, not only in the hotel, but anywhere in the city. A tie-up with local broadband provider HKBN will give guests access to 9,000 internet hotspots across Hong Kong.

And not only that, but Ovolo is also offering the service 24 hours prior to check-in and 24 hours after check-out, to ensure their guests aren’t stranded in the city. This follows Ovolo’s existing brand standard offerings of free breakfast, laundry and minibars.

It’s a great example of an innovative hotelier thinking about its guests’ needs, rather than its own. And there are many other examples out there; U Hotels for example, which offers 24-hour room rental, no matter what time of day you check-in, and lets guests have their breakfast anywhere in the hotel, at any time of day.

By putting their guests’ needs first these hoteliers are encouraging, rather than enforcing, guest loyalty. And isn’t that what good hospitality is all about?

Mark Elliott
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Mark Elliott
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