On paper, it can seem like a no-brainer for your business. Everyone needs WiFi at this point. Why not charge for it? You’re right, and no doubt you’ll make a quick extra buck for doing so, but many property managers don’t realize the long-term effects this can cause to their business. Here are 5 reasons you should not charge for vacation rental WiFi:
1. WiFi, by today’s standards, is a utility.
Imagine sending a water bill to your guests at the end of their stay, or maybe their electric bill. That would be ridiculous. I realize the internet isn’t quite there yet, but the general population often feels this way. It’s an essential tool that most travelers, especially business travelers because cellphone hotspots are often not typically strong or fast enough for working guests and they will end up paying for it. Some guests will be greatly annoyed at the extra charge while others, at best, will just understand and move on. No one, however, will find this extra fee a pleasant experience and it may leave them feeling nickeled and dimed. Which brings us to our next reason.
2. Is it worth sacrificing good reviews?
I’m not saying you’re going to get only one-star reviews for charging for WiFi. Or that offering free WiFi will grant you only 5-star reviews but make no mistake, your reviews will be affected. Most reviews are driven by emotions. If something upsets your guests, they’re going to want to express it, and it would only be a matter of time before someone writes a review expressing their frustration because they were charged for WiFi. Even if the mistake didn’t have anything to do with being charged for WiFi if something else is wrong with the guest’s stay, that might just be enough to push them to write that review. The best reviews come from guests who were amazed about how perfect everything was with their stay. Something as simple as charging for WiFi could be just enough to take that feeling away from them.
3. You’ll find yourself at the bottom of most OTA’s.
The vacation rental market is becoming so saturated that OTA’s like Homeaway and Airbnb have implemented algorithms to make sure the best rental properties show up first in search results. A major criteria of this is amenities. The more amenities a property has, the more likely it will be at the top of OTA search results, and WiFi is one of the most popular. If your WiFi isn’t marked as free, you risk being bumped way down.
4. Many vacation rentals are already including WiFi.
This one is easy to explain. Two similar properties in the same neighborhood with similar amenities are available for the same nights at a very similar price, but one offers free WiFi. Which do you choose? In today’s market guests have lots of options and with WiFi being a must-have for many, guests will choose competing properties to get what they want. Maybe your profit from charging a fee for WiFi outweighs the loss of revenue from fewer bookings, but I find that unlikely.
5. Don’t be that guy.
Even if after all of these reasons you’ve done the math and found you’re still profiting more by charging for WiFi and your reviews seem alright, you will still be seen as the property owner that doesn’t care too much about the guest and is simply just looking to maximize profit.
Everything is still up to you.
I’m sure there must be some particular circumstance when charging for WiFi is appropriate and profitable, this article was just to have the majority of property managers aware of what the average guest is expecting. Let us know if you have experienced anything different in the comments. We would love to hear from you, do you charge for WiFi?