Hotel wifi charges ‘mind-boggling’, claims retail boss

It is “mind boggling” that so many hotels still charge for Wi-Fi, a leading tourism retail executive told the World Travel and Tourism Council Summit yesterday.

Desiree Bollier, chief executive of the Value Retail management group, told delegates: “Our first investment was to make all our shopping destinations with free Wi-Fi. It was a must thing to do.”

Bollier said: “We spent millions but it’s free advertising. Social media is part of the way tourism shoppers think – they are going to take a picture and send it across the world.

“Selfies are here to stay. Sharing your purchase is part of the experience. Why Wi-Fi is still part of a paid transaction in hotels is mind-boggling to me.”

She argued: “We must embrace technology so when it comes to a one on one [with a customer] you are really free to do the one on one. When you check in online it does not mean you don’t have someone to meet and greet you when you arrive.”

At an earlier Summit session, Jumeirah Group president and chief executive Gerald Lawless complained: “We have still not cracked check in and check out in our industry. I can’t understand why it isn’t integrated.

“When you check in at the airport, why can’t you check in at your hotel? When you check in at the airport they just swipe your passport and have all your details. Why don’t we have the same at a hotel?”

The Travel Corporation president and chief executive Brett Tollman agreed, saying: “None of us has worked out a way to get away from having to give a credit card at check in and check out and that is a pain. But it is still important to have a personal welcome.”

Michel Taride, group present of Hertz International, suggested “we keep this a truly people business and add the technology on top”.

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