Even with widespread 3G and 4G it seems that free Wi-Fi is still of major importance, especially for businesses.
A survey of 500 senior decision makers in retail, hospitality and leisure sectors carried out by YouGov on behalf of BT found that 69% of UK companies see in-venue Wi-Fi as vital to the growth of their business, while 27% of companies claimed the availability of Wi-Fi has or would increase customer visits.
It’s no surprise really. Mobile data still has its limitations, with data limits, sometimes slower speeds and more difficulty using it on laptops and the like.
Tethering helps but it’s not as simple as just being able to connect to a Wi-Fi network.
Chris Hewertson, Chief Technology Officer at glh Hotels noted that: “For the hotel sector the availability of free in-venue Wi-Fi is essential, with many customers now rating it their number one consideration when choosing accommodation. Wi-Fi enables businesses like ours to offer a more streamlined customer service.
Faster free Wi-Fi gives us a clear product advantage over other hotels, which is key in a sector as competitive as ours.”
As well as driving growth in-venue Wi-Fi has also led to a change in ways, with 25% of surveyed companies claiming that it’s driving new ways of doing business that are shaped around new customer purchase behaviours, while 47% noted that it helped them develop better and more streamlined payment solutions.
Expanding on this, Steven Roberts, Strategic Transformation Director at Barclays said that: “Whether it’s being able to open a bank account in 3 minutes on one of the 10,000 in-store iPads, or automating everyday transactions, in-branch Wi-Fi has brought us closer to our customers.”
Despite the benefits of Wi-Fi being clear and it having been available for almost 20 years though many businesses still don’t offer in-venue Wi-Fi access, with over half of those surveyed not currently offering it.
That’s surprising and is surely holding back their growth, whether they’re trying to attract individuals or companies. Though an argument could be made that over time Wi-Fi will become less important, not more so, as mobile data continues to become faster and more widely available.