IHG jumps on bandwagon to offer FREE Internet

Introducing the future of the world’s largest loyalty programme.

The Priority Club Rewards of the InterContinental Hotels Group has jump on the bandwagon to be one of the first hotel loyalty programme in the world to offer complimentary internet to all its 71,000,000 members irregardless of their elite status level.

The announcement comes as IHG reveals the results of a global online survey* which show that nearly half of adults (43%) would choose not to stay in a hotel that charged for internet.

Richard Solomons, Chief Executive, IHG, said:

“In today’s fast-paced world, we know that travellers need to stay connected and free internet access is increasingly important.  I am proud that IHG is the first hotel company to offer free internet globally to all our loyalty programme members. 

The offer will first be rolled out in two tiers: the Gold and Platinum Elite members in July 2013 and all members to receive the complimentary internet from 2014.

This July 2013 will also see the conversion of the Priority Club Rewards (PCR) to IHG Reward Club. Guests can look forward to earn fast track elite status when they choose to stay in two or more of its brands, reward nights count towards elite membership status and Platinum elite status ‘extra nights’ gets to roll over towards maintaining their status in the next membership year (membership year refers to 1st January – 31st December calendar year).

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In June 2012, I wrote an article on Commercial Arrogance:The Wi-Fi Debate where most hotels I have stayed in charges cut-throat prices for internet connections. Almost a year later, we can now see that IHG is now ready to roll out free internet access to all its loyalty club members. I foresee that other hotel chains will follow suit soon.

I am very sure that most hotel brands would like to position itself to its potential guests with free internet access. Let’s see which other hotel brands will follow suit after this.

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Commercial Arrogance: The Wi-Fi Debate

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Should our luxury hotels charge for the use of wi-fi? It has been a norm that hotel industry throughout the world have been charging exorbitant prices just for the usage of wi-fi.

In this 21st-century, internets can be easily obtained almost everywhere, any corner on this planet. Hotels should treat the Internet like a cup of coffee – something of which should be available in every room.

While wi-fi is easily made available and complimentary in many cafes, bookstores and even in hostels, it’s commercial arrogance for a 5-star hotel to charge guests between $25-$40 a day for internet access on top of the room tariff.

While we all know that business travelers these days have the spending power as most of their companies will cover their travel expenses, it is by no means that a 5-star hotel should impose a nominal fee on the Internet access versus the treatment of backpackers staying in a hostel with complimentary Internet access.

My travel around Australia and across Asia recently took me by surprise to see how much 5-star hotels are charging Internet access for its business travelers. I stayed in Singapore back in February, the hotel publishes its Internet rate at SGD$45 per day (subjected to 17% GST) and this I thought was absolutely a cut-throat pricing. In Kuala Lumpur, it is not that far-off as well where the pricing has gone up to as high as RM60-RM70 per day (subjected to 16% government tax and service charge).

In Sydney, 5-star hotels charges ranging from AUD$30-$40 per day depending on the brand of the hotel but there is absolutely no standardize charges if you visit any of the hotels around Sydney.

We all know how easy it is and how cheap it is to install the whole Internet system but it is unfair for the hotel to pass on the installation fees’ burden onto its guests. Hotels should be able to somehow slipped in the Internet charges into its room rates and this will make its guests feeling much more comfortable rather than charging it separately.

The travel industry is as wide as an ocean with everyone owning a mobile, laptops, tablets and any electronic device that has an internet connection with it. What’s the point of having the hotel with a great reputation and great review online and it is being stained with a bad reputation just because of a comment on the Internet fee?

While I have seen many hotels offering complimentary access to its guests who are of high status on its loyalty programme but hotels still have more to do to maintain it’s other clientele who may not travel as frequent as the business travelers do.

As for me, booking a hotel which offers me complimentary internet access is my utmost priority. You offer me free, I will be loyal to your brand. And hotels shouldn’t be surprised if the clientele they gauge don’t come back.