Marriott International is now offering free wifi internet access to all Marriott Rewards members, a benefit previously only those in the Gold and Platinum levels enjoyed (see story here).
“The cool flowers, lovely amenities and great check-in are all gone for the business traveller the moment he cannot get fast internet or internet,” said Craig Smith, chief operations officer for Marriott International Asia-Pacific. Therefore, from now on, all Marriott Rewards members, regardless of tier, can enjoy not just free but also high-speed internet at Marriott properties in Asia-Pacific.
“This is the thing our customers are asking for most, so why not reward our most loyal customers?”
To please the clientele even further, Marriott has ensured that access will be fast enough to meet their expectations, Smith added. The group now offers a standard bandwidth of 75kb per room, allowing travellers to connect to the internet with their multitude of gadgets from their workdesks and public areas. New Marriott Reward members are eligible for the perk, from the moment they sign up for the loyalty programme, which is free.
Smith observed: “It doesn’t do us any good if we offer free internet and it’s really slow. It needs to be fast too because the dynamics are changing. In the old days, people used to check emails and that’s about it. Now, people download large files and movies.”
The hotel group earlier considered charging a fee when wider bandwidth was needed or simply cutting the user off when he used too much bandwidth, in order to avoid slowing down the internet. But these ideas were scrapped in favour of customer satisfaction.
Now, the responsibility falls on the general manager of each property. Based on guest surveys, which now feature a section on internet services, the property can buy more bandwidth when it is needed. Marriott also closely monitors patterns of internet use, noting the peak hours and downtimes, in order to increase the amount of bandwidth when it is needed the most.
Marriott’s latest internet policy is certain to cut off an important source of revenue, but as Smith reasoned, “Charging guests for internet is worth millions of dollars, but the gamble we’re taking is that we get a return from more satisfied guests who will use us a lot more.”
For more information on the Marriott Rewards programme, visit www.marriottrewards.com