Hilton to Offer Free Wi-Fi to All Loyalty Program Members
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Hilton Worldwide is making free Wi-Fi available to all of its HHonors loyalty program members, a step up from its previous offerings.
Right now, HHonors Diamond and Gold members receive free Wi-Fi if they book directly or via a travel agent who books through Hilton proprietary channels or GDS..
But, starting in August, Blue and Silver members will also receive free Wi-Fi for bookings made this way. In April, Diamond and Gold members will receive free premium Wi-Fi for bookings made in this manner.
This doesn’t apply to properties that charge a resort fee and include free Wi-Fi as a package. It also doesn’t apply to bookings made through online travel agencies (OTAs), which should make mom-and-pop travel agencies mighty happy.
This is a natural move for Hilton, given the massive demand for free Wi-Fi these days. Skimping on Wi-Fi services or charging members for Wi-Fi has already been proven to ignite travelers in a bad way.
Marriott International has found this out the hard way in the last few months. Its initial stance to block personal Wi-Fi devices in its meeting and event spaces (thus, charging attendees for its own Wi-Fi service) backfired, and the major hospitality company backed off the endeavor in January amid wide-scale protest (Marriott cited security concerns as the reason it attempted to block devices in the first place).
Marriott also learned that excluding travel agents—particularly given they are making somewhat of a comeback—can backfire. Marriott announced in November 2014 that it would offer free Wi-Fi to all of its 47 million Marriott Rewards members in January…as long as they only booked directly through Marriott’s channels. Obviously, this hit a nerve with travel agents, because all of those members were naturally inclined to book directly instead of through an agent.
Hilton appears to have learned from this. With this strategy, not only does Hilton receive direct bookings from travelers who don’t book through an agent, but the company also includes agents, as well.
Other major companies that have revamped their Wi-Fi offerings include Starwood Hotels and Resorts and Hyatt.
Starwood now offers free Wi-Fi to SPG loyalty program members who book through Starwood’s digital channel and guests who book through travel agents who are a part of Starwood’s travel professional program, SPG Pro.
Of all of these major hospitality companies, Hyatt is currently the only company to offer free Wi-Fi to all guests with no conditions.
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