Could Hilton Really Introduce Free (Albeit Slow) WiFi?

Here at HotelChatter, we dream of a utopia in which all those extraneous charges for parking, using the fitness centre and connecting to the internet, come – shock horror – included in room rates.

It’s a long way off, and sometimes, when we’re confronted with ever-expanding resort fees, we think it’ll never happen.

But then, every now and again, something happens that gives us a sliver of hope that things may, indeed, get closer to our ideal in the future.

Today, it’s a story from Australian Business Traveller which reports that Hilton – yes, Hilton Worldwide – may be considering a future involving free, albeit limited, WiFi. Apparently, Ashley Spencer, Hilton Worldwide’s VP of Operations for Australia, admitted that the brand had been talking “a lot” about a model where a slow connection – suitable for email and simple web surfing – would be rolled out free across the brand. If you wanted something faster, like to download or stream porn videos, you’d pay for that better connection.

Don’t get too excited, though – things are far from confirmed. In fact, Spencer said:

We’ve looked at that, we’ve talked a lot about it but, we haven’t decided one way or the other.

Which sounds a lot like non-committal flannel to us.

But at the same time, he admitted that since Hilton abolished WiFi charges for its Gold and Diamond HHonours guests, the chain had seen an “exponential increase” in bookings from those members. So they obviously realise there’s a demand.

Not to be Debbie Downers, but we can’t see this happening for a long time. Spencer mentioned that the hotels’ infrastructure might not be able to cope with demand, and claimed that places which did offer free WiFi often ran into problems. But, as a marriage counselor might say, everything starts by talking.

Best of all, if the plan did go ahead, he said, the system would be rolled out worldwide to achieve a “global level of consistency.”

So there you have it. It’s not breaking news for your Tuesday morning, but it’s certainly not a bad development, and it’s proof that voting with your feet on the WiFi issue makes hotels take note. Something to bear in mind next time you book.

This post originally appeared at Hotel Chatter.

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