Best Western hotels has backed up its move to offer guests free internet access with a study that has found hotel guests would save more than £1.4 billion a year if all hoteliers followed suit.
After analysing the latest numbers from the market research organisation BDRC, Best Western said it found that the average cost of internet per guest is £13.50.
With business travellers spending 106 million nights in hotels in 2010, the cost of accessing the web adds up quickly. Best Western estimates that free internet would save the average business traveler £197.86 per year.
Tim Sander, research director at BDRC Continental and editing author of the annual British Hotel Guest Survey, said: “The importance of the internet offering in hotels has surged in recent years.
“For business travellers it has developed into a hygiene factor, stating that the provision of the internet is important when choosing a hotel.
“But how much is the consumer prepared to pay for Internet? £5 seems to be a threshold in the business market at the moment but even at this price point the odds of buying or not are fairly balanced which implies that they would prefer to get it for free.
“Hotels still try to squeeze revenue for the internet out of guests but this could have some very damaging consequences, as for around half of all business travellers, free internet is more important than staying with their first choice brand, assuming location and cost factors are satisfied.
“It appears to be an opinion changing product attribute and clearly gives a competitive edge. That some brands have actually retracted their free internet recently and started charging for it seems crazy.”
Best Western estimates its free internet offering saves its guests about £28 million every year.