Hotel Wi-Fi rankings don’t reflect Asian innovation

Hotel Wi-Fi rankings don’t reflect Asian innovation

Region doesn't deserve bottom ranking, according to Mark Elliott

Region doesn't deserve bottom ranking, according to Mark Elliott

Mira's two Hong Kong hotels offer free smartphones to all guests
Mira’s two Hong Kong hotels offer free smartphones to all guests

Asia’s hotel industry came in for a bit of a bashing last week, after an independent report placed the region at the bottom of the global table in terms of guest Wi-Fi services.

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.

Mark Elliott
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Mark Elliott
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