Cell Phone Coverage can Make or Break Hotel Bookings

With so many hotel options available for guests when making travel plans, it often comes down to the technology that makes or breaks a guest's hotel experience, and the subsequent decision to return to that hotel. In an economy where hoteliers cannot afford to lose one customer to a competitor, it is crucial that operators understand guest technology preferences and accommodate them.

One area that has a lot of influence on guests' decisions to return to a hotel is related to the devices that many cannot live without: the cell phone. According to a recent study commissioned by Repeated Signal Solutions (www.repeatedsignal.com), 54 percent of travelers who cannot get strong cell phone reception may never return to a hotel. When asked if they would consider switching allegiances after receiving poor or no cell phone reception with all else being equal, responses ran as high as 57 percent for hotel visitors of certain age and income categories.

The need to provide guests with the best cell phone coverage possible is exactly what led the Mandarin Oriental, Boston (www.mandarinoriental.com) to deploy an in-building cellular system from ADC (www.adc.com). "Given our location in a dense urban area, we wanted to ensure that our guests and visitors can rely on their cell phones for voice and data coverage," says Colin Merry, director of IT for Mandarin Oriental, Boston.

Equally important to cell phone coverage is the presence of reliable high speed Internet access (HSIA). Demand for HSIA is constantly growing as guest Internet usage is expanding to include visits to sites that feature streaming videos, social networking capabilities and more. According to the University of Delaware's (www.udel.edu) 2009 Hotel Guest Technology Study, the presence of reliable HSIA access is a deal maker, and every corner of a hotel should have access. This includes not only in-room access, but wireless access in hotel public areas as well. "Almost as basic as the bed they sleep in, is having Internet that works to their satisfaction," Bryan Curry, CFO at Associated Hotels, told Hospitality Technology in a February 2009 article on the importance of guaranteeing hotel wireless success.

To read more about Associated Hotels' HSIA installation, or the many other technologies that influence guest preferences, visit htmagazine.com.com.

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