Vast majority of travellers now expect free wifi in hotels

It is possibly one of the most fiercely debated topics in (consumer) travel technology – should consumers be entitled to free wifi and web access in hotels?

And it now turns out that travellers are becoming more discerning about the destinations they are likely to visit, based on the quality of mobile coverage.

A study of 500 travellers (52% from Western Europe, 16% Northern Europe, 13% Southern Europe, 17% Middle East) found that 86% now expect wifi connections to be made freely available in hotels.

Amazingly, over a third (37%) say that good mobile coverage is important when choosing a destination, although the study doesn’t explain how consumers are checking such requirements.

Elsewhere in the study (commissioned by Brocade), over half admitted to using their mobile devices to check on work emails during a leisure trip – hardly surprising in some respects given that 95% of people will take a mobile phone away with them on holiday.

Pressure is increasing on hotels to loosen their policies over tariffs for wifi services, although property owners and others still claim costs in large hotels are often prohibitive.

Interestingly, live streaming appears to be becoming an increasingly important consideration, with a third claiming they will attempt to watch content from the London 2012 Olympics if it coincides with a trip.

Brocade VP and CMO, John McHugh, says:

“There is significant blurring between personal time and work time in modern society, with the consumerisation of IT and BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) working policies leading many people to rely on smartphones and tablet devices around the clock, wherever they may be and whatever they may be doing.”

NB: Beach mobile image via Shutterstock.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



  1. Simon Baker

    In my experience, even though I travel less for business these days, owning a smartphone is fast becoming the norm let alone tablet PCs therefore having access to the internet is almost a necessity rather than the nice to have that it was in the past. I have used the €15 per 24hour period services previously which is ok for a single night but it soon racks up when longer stays are required. It would certainly be a facility that I would be looking at in making any travel arrangements now as the line between work and leisure has definitely blurred somewhat plus leisure time has extensive interactions with the internet from social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

  2. Larry Smith

    The strategic business issues for hotels (cost center, quality of service), Porters 5 forces of competition (, plus general consumer perceptions of ubiquity and value make for a very robust dynamic that this study exposes.

    Consumers place huge value on WiFi and they can get it free in so many places, so the expectation and daily experience is all about “you give me this to get my business.” For quick service restaurants (McDonalds & Starbucks) or public parks, this is a minimal cost of business to add more value than costs given the short engagement.

    For hotels with a longer stay and engagement there are serious performance expectations (gotta be like 4G or a T1 for a business person), with substantial costs. The Porter 5 forces of competition point to the fact that low price value brands of hotels all offer free WiFi – so WTF. Consumers, even at the luxury end know they pay for WiFi in the expensive room, but could get it free almost everywhere else, including across the street at the coffee shop..

    Net, the line in the sand means Hoteliers really need to know their customers, and what they will pay. This study suggests the line is moving toward everyone (including the luxury customers), and the penalties might get more severe as switching is so easy.

    BTW, I’ve noticed many more conferences include free WiFi when booking the resident hotel with the conference code rate.

  3. Linchi Kwok

    If a hotel wants people to “check-in” in the location and share their experience on social media, why would this hotel not want to provide free wifi? Yeah, people can still use 3G or 4G network to access data, but the expensive data roaming fees in international locations prevents people doing that. Free wifi could provide good solution.

  4. Armands Balodis

    I don’t care about mobile coverage, but internet in hotel is very good feature if you need to work on something. If you are going on holiday without laptop, then it doesn’t matter and it shouldn’t matter, because you are there for a reason – to relax.

  5. Tim Harding

    I now make a point of choosing hotels with WiFi, no WiFi no business from me. Fed up with their piss poor excuses about costs when they charge you 5 quid for a beer!


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