Marriott made a pretty major announcement today, which we should all be excited about.
Marriott Rewards adding free internet for all members
As of January 15, 2015, Marriott Rewards members will receive complimentary standard wifi as long as they make their reservation directly with Marriott (be it online, over the phone, or at a hotel). That’s a really smart move on the part of Marriott, as it further encourages people to book directly with Marriott rather than through a third party.
This benefit will be available at over 3,800 properties, spanning their different brands. Free wifi is being added at Marriott Hotels, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Gaylord Hotels, Autograph Collection, AC Hotels by Marriott, Marriott Executive Apartments, and Ritz-Carlton.
I do think it’s worth specifically pointing out that Ritz-Carlton is now offering Marriott Rewards members free internet. It’s amazing that many luxury hotel brands still charge for internet, so it’s nice to see that this will no longer be the case with Ritz-Carlton if booking directly with them or Marriott.
These properties will be joining the brands that already offer complimentary wifi, which include EDITION, Moxy, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites, and Marriott Vacation Club.
Marriott Rewards Gold and Platinum members receive complimentary premium internet. So if there are multiple tiers of internet available, Gold and Platinum members can select the higher tier internet and have it removed from the bill at check-out.
The irony is that this news comes just weeks after Marriott was fined by the FCC for blocking mobile hotspots. Rather than owning up to the fact that they were trying to profit off wifi as much as possible, they came up with the most ridiculous explanation I’ve ever heard:
“Marriott has a strong interest in ensuring that when our guests use our Wi-Fi service, they will be protected from rogue wireless hotspots that can cause degraded service, insidious cyber-attacks and identity theft,” Jeff Flaherty, a company spokesman, said in an e-mailed statement.
That’s right, they were blocking mobile hotspots in order to protect us!
How does Marriott’s internet policy stack up?
IHG Rewards Club was the first of the “big five” hotel programs (Hilton HHonors, Hyatt Gold Passport, IHG Rewards Club, Marriott Rewards, and Starwood Preferred Guest) to introduce complimentary internet for all members as of early this year.
Interestingly a lot of the smaller chains offer free internet as a standard benefit for being a member, though it’s taking the big chains a while to catch on.
Keep in mind it wasn’t until a handful of years ago that hotels even started offering elite members complimentary internet, so all things considered benefits really are increasing at a rapid pace.
I suppose if you’d like to play devil’s advocate you can argue that this is a devaluation for elite members, since more people competing for the same amount of bandwidth slows things down in theory. But wifi really should be a free standard feature, so if anything it should prompt hotels to upgrade their technology. Hopefully.
Now that both IHG Rewards Club and Marriott will be offering all members free internet, I suspect that within the next year Hyatt and Starwood will match (you never know with Hilton!).
As far as Marriott goes, if only they’d add free breakfast for elite members at resorts, Platinum/Gold suite upgrades, guaranteed late check-out, and lower their elite qualification tiers, they might actually have a competitive rewards program. 😉
In fairness, I realize why people are loyal to Marriott — they have a massive global footprint, and at the end of the day having hotels where guests need to be is the number one driver of loyalty.