woman laptop cellphone wifi

An industry wide survey of 3-, 4- and 5-star hotels and serviced apartments by Tourism Accommodation Australia (TAA) has revealed that 96% of Australian hotels surveyed offer some level of free WiFi to guests.

The survey, from over 300 accommodation providers across Australia, revealed 99 per cent of hotels currently offer Wi-Fi as a service to guests, while the majority of hotels (65 per cent) do not charge for some level of free WiFi access and a further 31 per cent offer it free to customers on a conditional basis (such as loyalty program member, upon booking direct or a special inclusion).

In a sign of how fast the times are changing, the survey also revealed less than 5 per cent of hotels require all guests to pay for WiFi.

In the past two years, major Australian hotel groups such as Rydges and Meriton have introduced across-the-board free internet access, while other groups have extended free WiFi access to loyalty club members.

Installation of high-speed, secure internet access in large hotels can cost over AUD$120,000, especially in hotels with extensive conference facilities, and to satisfy bandwidth requirements at peak times is a premium ongoing cost for most hotels.

Hotels in regional and remote areas can face monthly microwave link or satellite connection costs of over AUD$20,000 per month to provide internet services.

Four Points Sheraton guest with iPad

Tourism Accommodation Australia CEO, Carol Giuseppi, said there had been a “revolution” in Australian hotels over the past few years with the number of hotels offering some form of free internet access to guests more than doubling.

“Today, guests at most hotels in Australia have access to some level of free Wi-Fi coverage, particularly if they are members of a loyalty scheme or have arranged free access via a corporate or conference account,” she said.

“In the past few years, hotels have had to upgrade their internet provision dramatically as the demand for connectivity has increased with guests often operating multiple devices and demanding ever-increasing bandwidth.

“Hotels generally accept that a level of internet access should be provided free so that guests can answer emails or update their social media channels, but when guests want to download or stream items requiring massive bandwidth then it is only fair that they should pay for premium bandwidth usage.

“To offset the high cost of internet provision, hotel groups are more likely to provide access for guests who are members of their loyalty club, so we would recommend travellers join the wide range of hotel loyalty clubs that are available.

“Providing high-quality, fast, efficient and secure internet service is an important requirement for guests. Australian hotels have answered demands from guests by extending internet access, and our industry is now on par with most hotel sectors around the world,” Giuseppi said.

James Wilkinson

Editor-In-Chief, Hotel Management