Free Wifi and the Experience Economy

I’m writing and posting this blog sitting in the lobby of a holiday hotel in Ibiza. Around me are several holidaymakers similarly using smartphones, tablets, net books and laptops to share their holiday experiences, post photos and updates, check e-mails etc.

We’re all able to do this as this hotel has free wifi in its luxurious and tranquil lobby and lounge areas. This is my third holiday in a row where a traditional ‘package’ holiday hotel has offered free wifi access in public areas. You pay if you want it in your room but most prefer the congenial and social surroundings of the lounges.

At last weeks CIETT2012 conference I attended an excellent keynote from Prof Lynda Gratton and amongst many things that she said (which I will probably revisit in future blogs) was that

We are now in an experience economy where measuring money matters less to consumers than measuring experiences

And with data roaming charges being what they are it’s certainly become easier to share holiday experiences from a hotel lounge with free wifi.

Most conferences I go to now talk about the importance of storytelling, how businesses need to encourage their customers and clients to share stories and experiences – reputations defined as the stories told about you as opposed to what you say about yourself – and holiday hotels, so central to the overall holiday experience and operating in a very competitive market, need to give every encouragement to their guests to share stories. Given that the three destinations that have given me this opportunity are Tunisia, Aruba and Spain it seems that social connectivity is clearly understood in many diverse places outside the UK/US echo chamber.

This experience is in marked contrast to may last three UK hotel visits when Wifi has been prohibitively expensive to use. Obviously I have my 3G and data roaming to compensate for quick check ins and updates but not everyone’s mobile data plans are supportive of regular updating. And if I was a visitor from abroad (as I am here) it would again be prohibitively expensive to showcase the hotel’s part in my overall holiday.

It’s not just hotels, but restaurants, pubs and shops are also keen to get customers sharing the experience and telling positive stories about them yet very few, if any, will offer you the network with which to share. And don’t get me started on conferences – at least 2 I’ve been to in recent months have been held in locations with no wifi…yet attendees are expected to live tweet and blog to help tell the story of the event.

So in the experience economy all businesses will rely on the individual consumer to share the experience…in which case they’d better start giving us the means to do it

4 thoughts on “Free Wifi and the Experience Economy

  1. Yes it seems odd that at places like conferences etc you’re not getting free wifi. I’m pleased to say though that as time goes by free wifi does generally seem to be more and more the norm.
    The hotels do seem to be guilty of trying to rip people off by charging large amounts for use of their wifi……..

  2. Charging for WiFi at a business hotel is like charging for luggage on flight. All these ways companies decided to generate revenue which consumers regard as money grabbing leave a sour taste and spoil the experience. Short sighted approach, short term revenue and long term reputation damage.

  3. It’s amazing that we still have to use our own smartphones or other wifi in order to connect at conferences. The audience get it. The speakers get it. The conference organisers? Well, they’re dealing with out of date facilities offered by venues. Time to address this with some smart mesh modems, methinks!

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