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Having to pay for internet is very high up there on the list of things that travelers don’t like – along of course with mind-numbingly slow internet. For years now more budget minded hotel chains have provided internet free of charge while more upscale properties still liked to charge for internet use unless you are an elite member with their rewards program.
Recently there have been improvements in the battle for “free” internet including Club Carlson, Fairmont, and IHG Rewards providing internet to all members of their loyalty program. Marriott has announced free internet to all members of their loyalty program who book their stay via a Marriott channel beginning in 2015, though only Platinum and Gold elites will get complimentary “enhanced” internet speeds.
Now this week SPG has made a similar announcement that beginning February 2nd internet would be provided to all members of the SPG program who book a stay directly with one of the SPG channels. For hotels that offer more than one speed of internet, here is how the free internet breaks down by status levels.
- Preferred (non-elite) members will receive standard in-room Internet access and have the ability to upgrade to the highest tier of internet, where available, for an incremental charge.
- Gold members will receive the highest level of Internet access available as well as a welcome gift choice of Starpoints or complimentary beverage.
- Platinum members currently receive the highest level of in-room Internet access.
You can get more details about the new SPG free internet policy here. As a SPG Gold member I’m glad that I won’t have to use my welcome gift on selecting free internet any more, but instead can get some extra points or a beverage as a welcome gift.
This leaves Hyatt and Hilton notably still not offering some level of free internet to all members of their loyalty programs. Both offer internet as a perk starting for mid-level elites, something you can easily get from a co-branded credit card, but they don’t offer it as an across-the-board benefit for all members. My guess is that will have to change in the next year or so since so many chains will have some level of internet available without an additional charge beginning in 2015.
Since I have mid or high tier elite status with most chains that I frequent, I am often insulated from the pay-to-surf internet issues, but when I travel with my parents, the reality of the issue for budget minded non-elites becomes very real. They will simply just go without internet on most of their devices for days on a trip if the hotel does not provide complimentary internet, which on the one hand sounds kind of amazing, but on the other hand can be a real inconvenience.
It wouldn’t take much for travelers like them to quickly catch on as to which chains provide internet and which do not when the chains that provide it are quickly growing to be the majority.