Being able to connect online with family and friends is now the top priority for travellers, new research from InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) has revealed.
40 percent of the 10,000 business travellers who responded to the survey said that being out of contact was the biggest annoyance when travelling. The global research was commissioned to mark the launch of IHG’s renamed loyalty programme, IHG(R) Rewards Club. It is intended to help IHG to understand hotel guests’ priorities when travelling, as it becomes the first and only hotel group to offer free global Internet access to all of its loyalty members.
Lack of Internet is considered more vexing than poor transport links, as cited by 26 percent, while 24 percent cited a noisy location as the most vexing circumstance. Of those surveyed, 61 percent said that Internet was the most important facility they could have in their hotel room. It was considered more significant to a good stay than the having a television (17 percent), a bath (5 percent), or a fridge (3 percent).
Almost two-thirds (64 percent) would prefer to use the Internet rather than a phone to contact family, the study said. Nearly two thirds of respondents, (65 percent), would be very unhappy travelling if they had no way of connecting with loved ones back home. Over half of parent business travellers (53 percent) surveyed cited connecting with family at home as the best way to de-stress at the end of a working day. A mere 1 percent of respondents said that a mini bar was the most important facility they could have in their hotel room.
89 percent said that free Internet would make them happier whilst travelling away for business. More business travellers said they would log on to available Internet networks as soon they arrived rather than unpack.
Relationship expert, Jenni Trent Hughes, commented in the Telegraph: ‘Just hearing a voice on a telephone is no longer sufficient for the 21st century traveller, we need the comfort of being able to see loved ones too. We want to see our children’s smiles when we’re reading them their bedtime story over Skype; be able to look our partner in the eye when we tell them how much we miss them, as well as keep up with all our social media obligations and emails.
‘We now believe that when staying away from home, being connected with a minimum fuss and maximum ease is crucial for keeping our various relationships ticking over. When these expectations aren’t met, we feel anxious and frustrated so it’s no wonder that nowadays many of us can’t relax until we are safely checked-in and logged-on.’
Richard Solomons, chief executive of IHG, said: ‘We understand how important it is for our guests to be able to stay in touch whilst travelling. That’s why, alongside great existing benefits such as points that never expire, we have introduced free Internet for our members as part of IHG Rewards Club. These leading benefits are why IHG Rewards Club has been chosen by more travellers than any other hotel loyalty programme, worldwide.’
Hotels have also faced criticism in recent years for continuing to charge guests for Wi-Fi. A study of 70 different hotels and hotel chains by Telegraph Travel in 2012 revealed that just 24 offer free Wi-Fi.