Here's and interesting article featuring Marriott and 4 other major chain CEO's that invested in Room Key, talking about a lot of things we have been discussing on MI. Interesting to hear some of their logic!
The biggest thing is the iPad and tablet increases on wifi demands. I think Choice is very unrealistic to think that it will take 5 years to be able to cheek in and enter your guest room. With the speed of technology progression, that will be available in a couple of years, I would bet. Now which hotels win the race (and it is a race), with good free internet coverage, and robust mobile applications, will get more business and personal business in a hurry. I currently use my iPad to tether to my iPhone for my wifi access as I travel around (that's because I didn't pay for the model with the 3G built in). Apple is projecting iPad devices sales to be higher than PC sales in just a couple of years. That is a HUGE technology shift towards mobile connectivity and hotels will want to keep up.
I see, very soon, being able to drive or fly, have my iPad or other mobile device, see hotels that are close to me and make reservations right on the spot. The difference I see, is that someone (like Marriott) could enhance their app to use the GPS to push deals to you based on your current location, or even analyzing the direction you are traveling, where your airline reservation stopovers are, or your final destination is, and even know when your return flight is. Can you get imagine making a reservation with Alaska Airlines, and as you check out, Marriott pushing you some special deals or rates based on intelligently analyzing your plans? They would be way ahead of other hotels trying to wait for you to come find your own deals. If the deal was tailored to me, with a good offer, I mighrt cancel another reservation I already had at a hotel (I see hotels figuring out that you have reservations at another chain, and figuring out a good deal to lure you away).
I also see huge events (such as conventions) where people log into the website for the event, and either they get immediate links to go to a hotel site, or that their reservation to the convention is noted and they are pushed a special deal that is tailored to their needs, prior hotel stay history, and member level (such as an immediate great Platinum offer, that will make me want to make a reservation right on the spot.
I'm rambling on, but these kinds of advances excite me, since I deal in technology and software encryption. Which brings up a whole different point. With all this mobile access to everything, companies also need to be extremely careful on encrypting our data on their host systems, on the applications that they push out to us, and securing the data as people travel around over unsecured wifi networks!
I did find it really interesting that Marriott has all those different internet providers at all those different locations still. That would explain why we get such poor coverage everywhere we go. I hope they get a corporate managed company to increase the coverage before it becomes a negative factor to customers.
Well, that may be the last time you ask what I found interesting about an article, eh?
One of the most interesting responses to me about free internet came from Choice Hotels:
Choice: We have been free for a long time. It is interesting that the last remaining places where hotels are getting away with charging for it are at the upper-upscale and luxury levels. I think the expectation is that it should be provided free.
This simply doesn't make sense to me -- any more than the many benefits that often come with the much larger Residence Inns in some places compared to full class Marriotts.
Interesting article, and IMHO internet has been a major high-mark-up item within lodging for a long time. Recall when dial up was free, then there was a charge, then well, you get the idea. Also seems that the speed of HSI is not all that consistent or great at many properties. Multiple users tend to slow things down quite a bit sadly. Free is good, high speed free even better
It is a year later and from the guest perspective, it is not any better and in fact worse in a lot of cases.
It is true that the demand is burgeoning, but when I check into a hotel and can't even have a stable connection from my desk, that's unacceptable. I had to put in a repeater in the doorway.
I was at another property and had my cradlepoint running - in an attempt to get data from a weak mobile signal. The wi fi hot spot was broken in my room and the nearby ones were overloaded. The manager on duty comes in, states that the reason the hotspot is broken is my cradlepoint (thus proving that he knows absolutely nothing about this). I turn it off - PROVE to him that it has nothing to do with the cradlepoint. The guy goes back to the hotel office, types in that my cradlepoint is breaking the wi fi.
Both of these properties were Marriott ones. In between, I was at another Marriott that had superb internet.
I think the big annoyance is that when these hotel systems don't work, they try to pin the blame on the guest's computer..which is a frustration. Sometimes it is, but sometimes it is the hotel too. The tests to prove that are easy.