Did you know your UK visitors would rather cut back on their holidays then do without the internet?
The penny dropped last weekend. We had my five year-old godson to stay along with his older sister and parents. The first question when they arrived: ‘What’s the wireless key so that we can download some games for the children?’
Well, they survived without Flight Control for a couple of days thanks to a steady diet of walks and Christmas markets.
But it got us thinking, should we install wireless internet for our guests?
First off, we did a bit of research. According to a report(1) earlier this year, 74 percent of UK adults use the internet. More astonishingly still, when asked how they would save money if times got tough, 47 percent said they would cut back on going out for dinner, 41 percent on DIY and 41 percent on holidays. Broadband internet? Just 10 percent.
So if visitors consider the internet indispensable at home, what about when they’re on holiday? Speaking simply from our own experience and that of friends, being able to surf and search on the one hand, and keep the kids entertained on the other, is now a central part of the holiday experience.
Hotels know this – which is why they charge upwards of 10 euros a day for wireless access. In some cases you have to queue for the one public PC. And that, for us, was the clincher. Like so many rental property owners, we’re constantly reminding visitors of what they can save compared with hotel holiday. Over a fortnight, free internet could be worth more than 100 euros. And for the sake of 20 euros a month on our part, that seems like a good investment.
Other ways that you can promote wireless internet to your guests:
Create a virtual welcome pack: Whether you store the information on your website, or simply provide a list of links that can be accessed from a laptop, it’s a great advantage for your guests if they can access maps, view opening times or book tickets online.
The option to keep in touch with work: With so many people now working part time, as freelancers or from home, it’s getting harder and harder to be disconnected when you travel. And with employment so precarious for many people, just keeping an eye on office email can be reassuring.
Catering for the iPhone generation: According to research(2) the number of smartphone users in the UK has risen to 6.2 million. Downloading cheap games and applications is an increasingly popular way of keeping children entertained. You can also advise your guests to download useful applications in advance such as travel guides, and translation software. The latest generation of smartphones, such as the iPhone 3Gs feature GPS and an electronic compass.
Shrinking computers, shrinking luggage: Once upon a time only the lucky few carried back-breaking laptops. The latest netbooks take up no more space than a hardback book. For a growing number of visitors the laptop bag is the carry on luggage of choice, especially when it can store music, tv and films that keep everyone entertained on a rainy day.
Best sellers on an E-reader: The latest addition to the traveller’s suitcase can hold hundreds of books. Again, you can advise visitors on travel guides to download before they arrive. It’s also a bonus if a visitor who’s bolted through the latest Dan Brown can download a new bestseller while staying at your property.
As I mentioned, we’re new to this. So what about you? Do your guests expect hot and cold running internet when they book a holiday? And how do they use it?
And what about the downsides? Our one concern is that we’ll turn into a part-time IT helpdesk. Sound familiar?