Over the years, hotels have been driven to offer free high speed Internet access in guestrooms. Hoteliers realize HSIA is a essential amenity but assume they cannot directly profit from free-to-guest Internet offering, so many have installed “do-it-yourself” HSIA at the lowest cost possible, making for unreliable, but not secure, connections. In addition, hoteliers do not have the resources or knowledge to provide support to guests with connectivity issues.

While such do-it-yourselfers believe providing free HSIA does guests a favor, some are losing guests and room revenue due to poor service.

The smart, forward-thinking hotelier knows the hotel can profit from a free-to-guest HSIA offering directly and indirectly. The first step is investing in an Internet management solution that enables multiple business models. Such a solution would allow for different authentication and billing methods and service levels in different areas of the property. The solution should also allow for the layering of new services, such as Voice-over IP, and unique customizations.


  1. Manage your bandwidth

    Just because a hotel offers free HSIA to guests doesn't mean it has to give away unlimited bandwidth, opening up the potential for bandwidth hogs to clog the network. With a high-speed Internet system that supports bandwidth management, hoteliers can offer a base service for free and charge a premium to upgrade to a higher speed.

    Guests will appreciate knowing that the system allows everyone to have at least a base amount of bandwidth and those who are using more bandwidth will not slow others' connections. Guests who need more bandwidth won't mind paying a small fee for a higher speed of service.

  2. Use the service as an online advertising forum

    Online advertising is on the rise and hotels have an advantage. They can use their HSIA offering and web portal as an advertising medium and sell targeted advertising real estate. Sounds daunting, but with an Internet management solution in place and an integrated advertising tool, the hotelier simply sits back and collects advertising revenue. This way, a hotelier can offer dedicated advertising real estate on the hotel's welcome screen and even on any web page through a banner delivery process. That means ads are organized neatly in one small section of any page viewed, instead of popping up every 10 seconds. Scheduling and targeting mechanisms are put in place to ensure that the user is receiving timely, targeted advertising. The hotelier also can take advantage of the offering to advertise hotel services, such as the restaurant or room service. Local taxi companies and entertainment venues, too, could take advantage of the hotel's targeted advertising tool.

  3. Layer new services on to the high speed Internet system

    By investing in a high-speed Internet management solution that will accommodate the layering of new services, the hotelier can plan for and profit from upcoming technologies. Take Voice-over IP (VoIP). Hotels are losing revenue from long-distance service because guests are using their cell phones; VoIP is an even-less-expensive alternative. By adding VoIP to the Internet network, the hotel can get back profit it was losing.

  4. Charge for access in meeting rooms and business center

    Hoteliers often give away access in guestrooms, the lobby and other public areas because they are limited to the same authentication method throughout the property. With an Internet management solution in place, hoteliers can provide different authentication and billing methods in different areas of the property. The hotel can continue to offer the service free in guestrooms and charge for access of higher bandwidth in the meeting and conference rooms. Such premium access would allow for smooth operation of online activities that require more bandwidth, such as video conferencing.

  5. Install an Internet kiosk in the lobby

    For hotels lacking a business center with HSIA, an Internet kiosk is a great alternative. Such a kiosk could allow users to look up local information, check flights, print boarding passes and conduct online banking. It also would provide opportunies to push location-based messaging and promotions and to collect revenue from printing services.

While it is easy to directly profit from a free-to-guest high speed Internet offering with the right products, services and partner, it is equally easy to indirectly benefit. Internet access is so necessary for business travelers, it has become a major criterion in hotel selection. Promoting a quality service can boost occupancy rates and delivering it will increase customer satisfaction. Satisfied guests mean loyal customers. If a hotel offers reliable, high-quality Internet service, guests will return. And as part of a VIP program, hoteliers can reward loyal customers with premium Internet service, with greater bandwidth, for free.

By Clark Squires, vice president of sales and partnerships, SolutionInc. Reach him at 902-420-0077 and/or e-mail clark.squires@solutioninc.com.

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