Guest demand for high-speed internet at hotels is on the rise, and so is the cost of providing it, according to a study at Loews Hotels & Resorts properties.
High-Speed Internet Access (HSIA) has become the headline amenity for every hotel in the world, rivaling bed and bath as a “must-have” service for business and leisure travelers alike. We conducted an analysis of how guest usage of this vital service has changed over time at Loews Hotels & Resorts, presented here at a summary level.
No surprise to any hotelier, our findings show steady and strong increase in demand, utilization and guest expectations. We do not anticipate this trend to change anytime soon, with a corresponding increase in hotel expense for owners and operators for bandwidth, networking gear and increased density of coverage.
The first major metric to look at is the simplest: the raw total number of devices connected to HSIA services at Loews Hotels.
While it comes as no surprise, the trend line is up and to the right (just like your net operating income, we hope). The surprising part is how sharp and steep the increase is.
One would think that this steep climb might be due to increased utilization of mobile devices and hotel guests learning to connect their smartphones when they arrive at the hotel, not just their laptops. This logic is borne out by our next metrics.
Operating system mix
Looking at the mix of operating systems, we see continued growth in the percentage of connections from operating systems associated with smartphones and tablets, specifically iOS and Android. Meanwhile, the percentage of connections from operating systems on laptops—Windows and Apple products—show declines.
For those of us intrigued by the different stories told by looking at numbers in different ways, when we evaluate the absolute number of connections by operating system, we saw another picture. Our data suggests that iOS utilization increased dramatically at the expense of Windows devices. Looking at the actual number of connections by operating system instead of percentage, we saw a steep increase in iOS utilization, with a similar increase for Windows and Android devices. The curve for OSX (Apple laptops) shows a much shallower growth rate.
Now let’s examine one of the big drivers of guest demand and hotel owner expense: bandwidth consumption. Our data shows continuous growth in average daily utilization of bandwidth across the enterprise, with a steep increase in the slope of the curve from 2015 to 2016.
Our next feature article for Hotel News Now will focus on the implications of these trends for hotel owners and operators. For a sneak preview, we are glad to share that we see the steeper increase in bandwidth consumption continuing through 2017, largely driven by video content. In other words, it goes up and to the right.
Tony Del Mastro is the CTO of Loews Hotels & Resorts, leading all aspects of enterprise and property technology for the brand.
Mark Haley is Managing Partner of The Prism Partnership, a boutique consultancy serving the global hospitality industry.
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