Back in late October, Marriott announced that they would begin offering all Marriott Rewards members booking directly through Marriott free in-room wifi. That came after IHG Rewards Club began offering all members free in-room wifi as of early this year.
Why offering members free wifi is brilliant
Offering loyalty program members free wifi is brilliant on several levels:
- The major hotel chains are kind of behind the trend on charging for internet, especially compared to the ever increasing number of boutique hotels which usually offer free internet
- Providing free internet only to people booking directly through the chain builds loyalty and brand awareness; rather than searching rates through an online travel agency, you might go directly through the chain next time
- This encourages people to sign up for the loyalty program, which further helps build loyalty
- By encouraging people to book directly through the chain, they avoid having to pay travel agency commissions in many cases (which are typically 10%)
Starwood now offering SPG members free internet
Starwood has just announced that they’ll be offering free internet for all SPG members as of February 2, 2015.
Only SPG members that book directly through Starwood’s website or app qualify for free internet. Technically you’re not eligible for it if you book in person at the hotel or by calling.
Premium internet for elite members
While all SPG members will receive free internet, SPG Gold & Platinum members will receive free premium internet:
Previously SPG Gold members had to select internet as their welcome amenity, while now they’ll receive free premium internet in addition to their welcome amenity.
Here are the terms of the free internet offering:
Complimentary Internet Access. Beginning February 2, 2015, an SPG Member that books a Stay through a Starwood Website or an SPG App will receive: (i) complimentary standard in-room Internet access during the Stay if he/she is not a Gold Preferred Guest or a Platinum Preferred Guest at least 24 hours prior to the Stay; or (ii) complimentary premium in-room Internet access during the Stay if he/she is a Gold Preferred Guest or a Platinum Preferred Guest at least 24 hours prior to the Stay (“Internet Access Benefit”).
A “Starwood Website” is a website operated by or on behalf of Starwood or an SPG Participating Hotel which are currently starwoodhotels.com, spg.com, stregis.com, theluxurycollection.com, whotels.com, lemeridien.com, fourpoints.com, aloft.com, element.com, sheraton.com, and westin.com. An “SPG App” is a downloadable application operated by or on behalf of Starwood in connection with the SPG Program including, without limitation, the iPhone and Android versions thereof.
An SPG Member will only receive the Internet Access Benefit if the reservation for the Stay includes his/her SPG Member account number at least 24 hours prior to check-in for the Stay.
The Internet Access Benefit is limited to one room per eligible SPG Member per Stay regardless of how many rooms have been reserved.
No incremental benefit will be provided at SPG Participating Hotels that offer complimentary in-room Internet access to all guests.
SPG Participating Hotels that have mandatory resort charges that include Internet access will provide a replacement benefit, to be determined at each SPG Participating Hotel’s discretion.
Employees of Starwood and SPG Participating Hotels are not eligible for the Internet Access Benefit.
This is a very exciting trend we’re seeing among hotel chains, and I’d be shocked if Hilton and Hyatt didn’t follow in short order.