Tourists’ Wi-Fi demands no joke

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30 July 2014 | 0

Billy MacInnesTS Eliot famously began The Waste Land with the line “April is the cruellest month” but it’s a little known fact that he initially followed it with “and August is the silliest” before electing to go with something about lilacs instead.

August became synonymous with ‘the silly season’ because it was the month when bored reporters and journalists working on newspapers and magazines resorted to printing some of the most idiotic and spurious articles of their careers in a desperate effort to fill space because everyone else was on holiday so there was no real news.

In today’s 60/60/24/7/52/365 world, there can be no shortage of news so when there is, journalists fills the gaps with silly stories. And because there are a lot more gaps to fill, there are a lot more silly stories and they are no longer confined to August. If you don’t believe me, tell me what your initial reaction would be to a press release entitled Wi-Fi more Important to Hotel Guests than Hot Water, Breakfast and Parking (even if it was sent at the tail-end of July)?

Admittedly, it wasn’t quite as silly as it first appeared. Or, to be more accurate, the Irish people weren’t as silly as the press release seemed to suggest they might be. For example, the number of people who would rather a cold shower or to remain unwashed in exchange for a good Wi-Fi connection was very low at 5% – even if that is still probably 5% too many.

In fact, the results for all of the things highlighted in the headline weren’t quite as demented as I first feared. Yes, a fifth of those surveyed said they would go without the most important meal of the day in exchange for reliable Wi-Fi but maybe some of them are people who don’t do breakfast anyway. A whopping 70% would do without a kettle in their room for reliable Wi-Fi but that’s not exactly an onerous sacrifice to make.

Stream of thought
Over a third (36%) said they would ditch the TV in their room but given the terrible quality of most hotel TV I’m surprised that figure isn’t higher. Still, quite a lot of people seem to feel the same way about hotel TV because the survey reported 70% were choosing to stream content from services such as Netflix to their laptops, tablets and smartphones instead of watching TV.

The survey of hotel guests was conducted by Bitbuzz and managing director Shane Deasy said one of the more surprising findings was that “people are willing to pay in order to have reliable Wi-Fi that can support their browsing needs”. I have to admit I found that surprising too. So not only are guests prepared to sacrifice things like breakfast, TV and a kettle for good Wi-Fi, they’re also prepared to pay more for it as well. Really?

Don’t these people know anything about negotiation or trade offs? They’re prepared to give up things and pay more? I bet a lot of hotel owners would be very keen to see the names of the people in that survey. Some of them might even be prepared to give up hot water for it.

*Having scanned the press release again, I can’t find any mention of parking at all except in the headline. However, upon further investigation, it transpires that only a mere 4.5% of respondents said parking was the most important factor for them when staying in a hotel, compared to just over 3% opting for breakfast, 10.6% plumping for hot water and 33.3% for Wi-Fi. A sensible 48.5% opted for a comfortable bed as the most important factor for them when staying in a hotel. Presumably, the 33.3% using Wi-Fi would be so engrossed in watching Netflix films that they wouldn’t notice their bed was uncomfortable.

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