Biz travellers wi-fi needs exploited

Business travellers are finding it harder than a year ago to get online at airports, railway stations and other locations, according to new research from silicon.com.
This surprising finding comes despite an overall rise in the number of on-the-move sessions and travellers increasingly saying it is critical - that they will lose business if they don’t get online.

When asked whether they had lost business as a result of not being able to get online while on their travels, this year 20% of respondents said they had, versus 18% a year ago.

The annual Business Traveller Survey* found that the number answering ‘sometimes’ to the question ‘Do you have difficulty getting online while on the road?’ was up - seven points, from 60 to 67%. The number answering ‘Yes, always’ to the same question remained static, at 13%, while the answer ‘Rarely, these days’ fell from 23 to 17% of respondents and ‘No’ fell from 5 to 3%.

Tony Hallett, site director of silicon.com, said: “We are witnessing a boom in people using the internet remotely, whatever their method, but with this research users are telling us that the service they receive just isn’t good enough.

“Coupled with connections being just too hard to make, new questions we have asked - in line with our current Fair Wi-fi campaign - show us users feel they are charged too much. Business travellers contribute a disproportionate amount of revenue to the travel industry and hotels, yet are being exploited. They are not asking for free connections, just a fair fee and a reliable connection.”

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The latest silicon.com research reveals the use of the internet in airport lounges is up, as it is at hotels, conference centres and coffee shops which often have wi-fi ‘hotspots’. Up eight points, 84% of respondents said they use the internet at these places. Only 17%, as opposed to 27% last year, say they ‘never’ use it.

Meanwhile, this year 89% said hotels charge too much for internet access. The option ‘I only stay in a hotel if I know it offers cost-effective internet access’ was chosen by 7% of respondents.

Over the past year, there has also been a swing in those that travellers say they trust for advice on connectivity.

Tony Hallett added: “There is clearly some distrust of industry - whether that’s on the travel or communications side - and the media is regarded even more poorly. But business travellers clearly trust each other, increasingly so.”

Of the business travellers surveyed online in February and March 2007, 82% were based in the UK, with 66% travelling to UK towns and cities using the rail network and 48% using domestic airlines. 79% of respondents travel to Western Europe, while 57% visit the USA. Overall, levels of travel to all areas of the world were up by over 3% on average year-on-year.
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