When hotels get it right
Internet access often is a pet peeve of mine. Wait strike that.
Lack of internet access, often is a pet peeve of mine.
When in a cafe, pub, restaurant, waiting room, hotel room, train carriage… Any place where I spend a lot of time, often idling waiting for someone or something, I want access to the internet. From my phone. My Kindle. My iPad. My laptop. From whatever device I have with me at the time.
Businesses not taking advantage of my addiction to being online are missing out on a marketing opportunity. While I don’t want to pay for internet access when out and about (although I might if I could pay for just the minutes I used without having to pull my credit card out, now there’s an idea for someone…) I am more than willing to part with my email and even other personal information.
When I last was in Sweden I stayed at Hotel Tylösand, just outside the town of Halmstad on the west coast.
Great hotel. Beautiful rooms, located more or less on the most beautiful sand beach in Sweden, a fantastic restaurant (Akvarell, without a doubt one of the best places to dine in the area), excellent conference facilities, very much part of the Halmstad night life in the summer (I hardly think owner Per Gessle would have it any other way), luxurious spa and gym facilities. Heck, they even have a decent website!
There is this one thing they really nailed though. Yes, internet access.
From the moment you set foot on the hotel grounds, all you need to do is start your device, connect to the free WiFi, hand over your email address, and you are online. Nothing much special about that, you can do the same thing at Starbucks. Except that when I’m saying “from when you set your foot on the hotel grounds” I am not exaggerating.
This particular hotel has made sure to cover the entire beach area, well beyond what can be considered being a service for their hotel guests, with WiFi! You can literally move around all over the hotel, from your room to the spa to the restaurant, and all over the beach while still getting your Twitter fix and posting your Instagram photos.
Awesome: since this is a public beach, they reach every beach visitor, all of them a potential paying customer at the hotel facilities.
Or consider this: earlier this summer they hosted a conference for a big Swedish IT company. How happy do you think their geeks were when they could mingle on the beach while online? And how much social media marketing of the IT company, and indirectly the hotel, happened as employees shared updates, photos and videos throughout the conference days?
Who wouldn’t share a sunset like this one to all their social networks, bragging about where they are?
Sure, there is an ulterior motive to this: marketing and data collection.
Everyone who wants to connect to the WiFi using their web browser are first brought to a “virtual reception” where the spa, restaurants (they have several), upcoming concerts and so on are presented.
Since you don’t have to be a guest at the hotel to enjoy these things it makes sense to make as many people as possible aware of them. Especially people lying on the beach, enjoying the sun! Why make plans for lunch or dinner in town when you can walk over to the hotel and spend your money there?
To then get access to the actual internet you have to give up your email address. At this point the hotel of course asks if they are allowed to send you marketing about what’s going on in and around the hotel. They don’t ask for much, just your email. While that generates a very unsegmented database, it provides for very quick growth in volume.
Hotels of the world, please follow the example set by Hotel Tylösand. See free WiFi for your guests not as a cost, but as a marketing opportunity. It would make my digital life so much easier.