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Hotel InternetDo extra fees really impact a hotel guest’s stay? A new J.D. Power and Associates survey indicates that unwelcome fees may be more than just a small annoyance. In fact, extra fees, like bad customer service, put hotel guests in a negative frame of mind — never a good thing when it comes to measuring satisfaction.

According to the North American Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index study, the average guest satisfaction is at 757 (out of a possible high of 1,000). But guests who indicated they had received free Internet were more satisfied (775) than those who were charged for Internet (743).

It seems that for many guests, what they paid (or didn’t pay) for Wi-Fi may have colored their entire hotel stay.

So, if Internet was free, their overall hotel experience was better, almost as if free Internet came with rose-colored glasses — what a pretty carpet, isn’t that receptionist nice, what cute little shampoo bottles.

But for those forced to pay for their Internet usage, the hotel was simply a disappointment — the carpets seem faded, the receptionists aren’t helpful and they’d much rather have free Wi-Fi than stupid little shampoo bottles.

Okay, specific questions about the carpets, receptionists and shampoo bottles weren’t in the survey, but you know what I mean.

I hate paying for Internet at a hotel, especially if I’m being charged per hour or more than $20 for a day. It just puts me in a bad mood, and yeah, maybe I do suddenly “realize” that what I first thought of as a pretty aqua blue carpet is actually faded royal blue that hasn’t been replaced in years. And the woman at the hotel’s front desk who I thought was working hard to help another guest was actually simply ignoring me.

But at hotels where the Internet is free, I’m much more relaxed, happily surprised and willing to give the hotel more leeway. So what if I never use the hotel’s shampoo samples? How nice that the hotel isn’t stingy and offers that amenity, in addition (of course) to the free Internet.

It’s really just a matter of the hotel setting up my mood. Give me something I want (and quite frankly need) for free, and I’m happy. Make me pay for it, and you get a grumpy puss who’s looking for something to complain about.

It’s really not a new concept. That’s why customer service has always been important. Good customer service makes for happy customers, who see the rest of their experience through a positive lens. Bad customer service…

Let’s go back to the J.D. Power survey for a moment. Guests with a high opinion of a hotel’s staff have an overall satisfaction index of 841, while those with an average or low opinion of staff have overall satisfaction indexes of 673 and 570 respectively. That’s a pretty big difference, if you ask me.

So if good customer service is giving guests what they want, and the hotel amenity travelers want most is free Wi-Fi, we can’t help but wonder: Why do any hotels still insist on charging for the Internet?

Tips for Better Wi-Fi on the Road

Hidden Hotel Fees

Choosing a Hotel

– written by Dori Saltzman

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