I recently went to an event launching WiFi at all Tsogo Sun properties around the country. Press release blurb starts here:
In its ongoing quest to create great experiences, Tsogo Sun has installed high speed quality connectivity Wi-Fi in all its hotels that is free up to a varying data limit per room per day, depending on which grade of hotel the guest is staying in.
In Tsogo Sun’s Deluxe hotels, 750MB is free per room per day to in-house guests; in Southern Sun hotels, the cap is 500MB per room per day; in Garden Court hotels, the cap is 350MB per room per day; and in StayEasy hotels, the cap is 250MB per room per day. In all the hotels, these data limits are limited to a maximum of three devices per room. The free high speed, quality connectivity Wi-Fi service was launched in Tsogo Sun hotels at the start of June 2013, setting a new Wi-Fi standard in the hospitality industry in South Africa.
I think it’s a great move by Tsogo and while it might initially be painful it’s a step in the right direction. Tweeting about this led to an interesting debate: surely WiFi in a hotel is akin to having towels? Well the counter argument has two points:
- WiFi has always been a profit line item for a hotel. Suddenly you’re looking at tens of thousands of rands lost per month. That’s not insignificant in this economy.
- Not everyone uses the WiFi so surely it’s being subsidised for those that use it by those that don’t? Why should there be a small charge on my room for something I’m not using?
In the US WiFi is fairly common in hotels yet in Europe this isn’t always the case. After spending six months selling a hotel product related to marketing I can say that hotels only care about two things: Can you make more money or lower costs. WiFi doesn’t really fit either of those short term but it’s definitely a longer term goal that all hotels should aim towards. People will pick a hotel with free WiFi over another if the price or location isn’t that different.
It’s about time hotels and malls realise that WiFi is a people puller rather than an expense.