For Halloween, Marriott gave travelers a nice treat—free Wi-Fi for those who participate in its Marriott Rewards loyalty program. Then just last week Starwood Hotels decided to do the same, only for all its SPG members (previously just Gold and Platinum members scored free Wi-Fi), though they also have to book directly through Starwood, which could be kind of a bummer for meeting organizers who want their attendees to book through their housing management.
And now Hyatt is giving us a big cuppa holiday cheer in the form of free Wi-Fi for all at its properties' guest rooms and lobbies, beginning in February 2015, however you book the room. Meetings industry professionals are among those who have issued the challenge, and I think it's safe to say hoteliers are finally starting to realize that any continuing resistance would be, as the Borg would say, futile. As Kristine Rose, vice president of brands for Hyatt, put it in a press release:
“Internet connectivity is no longer an amenity. It has become an integral part of travelers’ daily lives and a basic expectation. Travelers shouldn’t have to remember which brands or locations offer it for free or the strings attached to get it.”
Of course, there's Wi-Fi and then there's "premium Wi-Fi," which will be available only to Hyatt Gold Passport Diamond and Platinum tier members, but I'm still not complaining—juice is juice, and we really do need it when we're on the road. Could this possibly signal the beginning of the end of the discussion over who should pay for Wi-Fi—or am I just dreaming?
Marriott, check. Starwood, check. Hyatt, check. Hey Hilton, there's still time to jump on the free Wi-Fi wagon for Q1 of the new year...