Hotel WiFi Test compiled its user-driven data into a list of the world’s best cities and countries for hotel internet provision. And the results came as a bit of surprise; Asia ranked top for Wi-Fi quality (although still with only 50% of hotels offering what Hotel WiFi Test called “adequate” connection speeds) and bottom for the provision of free Wi-Fi (only 61% of hotels).
And while I have no reason to doubt the test, the results don’t appear to ring true. Many Asian hotel brands, like Shangri-La and Meritus, are leading the way in terms of offering company-wide free Wi-Fi, and while forward thinking hotels are even providing their guests with their own smartphones. Hong Kong’s Ovolo is even going the extra mile and offering free Wi-Fi everywhere in the city for the guest’s entire stay, and 24 hours before arrival and after check-out.
So which countries are letting the side down? Well Malaysia rated above average for availability of free Wi-Fi (75%) but terribly for speed (34%). And this trend was similar in Indonesia (79% free, 22% speed) and Cambodia (95% free, 21% speed). Whereas Japan has excellent speed (85%) but poor coverage in terms of free Wi-Fi (52%).
As regular readers of this column will know, paying for hotel Wi-Fi is one of my biggest bugbears (along with animal attractions, airport security processes, Bangkok taxi drivers, and, well, quite a few things really), but Asian hotels, and especially Asian hotel groups, are certainly not the worst offenders.
The big global chains need to wake up and start offering free Wi-Fi, without conditions. Best Western has been doing this for years and Hyatt recently followed suit. The rest need to realise that guests now see charging for hotel Wi-Fi as a scam – a cynical money grab that’s bad as charging for water or electricity use.
And if they want a few ideas on how to really improve the guest experience, well, they could do worse than looking to some of Asia’s forward-thinking hotel brands, like Ovolo, Mira and U Hotels. Far from lagging behind the rest of the world, many of Asia’s hotels are leading the way.