Rarely do hotels give anything away for free but Britain's biggest independent group has launched a national campaign to encourage free internet access for everyone.
Best Western claims that if hotels provided guests with free internet access it would save British businesses £1.4bn a year.
The chain claims it saves its own guests £28m a year annually by not charging for internet access in guest rooms, although the typical charge by most other hotels is £13.50 per visit.
Market research group BDRC found that business travellers spent a total of 106 million nights in hotels in the UK in 2010, with the average customers spending 11 nights per year in a hotel. If they were given free internet access, they would each save an average of £197.89 a year.
Best Western is inviting others to join its online campaign for free internet access at www.bestwestern.co.uk/freeInternet
Head of marketing Tim Wade said: “Not only would free Internet encourage more hotel overnight stays thus boosting the hotel industry in the UK, but it will also save businesses a phenomenal £1.4 billion every year.
“We are hugely committed to this. We are hoping our lead, and the success we have seen by introducing free Internet across our entire portfolio of hotels, can be replicated in hotel groups up and down the nation. It would be a massive boost for the hospitality industry and for UK business in general.”
Tim Sander, Research Director at BDRC Continental and editing author of the annual British Hotel Guest Survey added: “'The importance of the internet offering in hotels has surged in recent years. For business travellers it has developed into a hygiene factor, stating that the provision of the Internet is important when choosing a hotel."
Sander said most business travellers were prepared to pay up to £5 for internet but free access was more important to them than the brand of hotel.
"That some brands have actually retracted their free Internet recently and started charging for it seems crazy," he added.
By Linsey McNeill
Tuesday, June 14, 2011