TripAdvisor’s recent survey of their users indicated that travel review websites (like their own) greatly influence their decision in choosing where to stay and eat, and what to do once you reach your destination.
No surprises there, but here’s something else in the survey I found fascinating…
Free in-room wi-fi was the most popular factor in influencing whether a traveler books with a certain hotel property. Following that was free breakfast, then free parking.
One thing is for certain – you hardly encounter any of those things in the higher end hotels in most major cities. Immediately San Francisco comes to mind for me. At the Hyatt Regency a few years ago, I remember paying for the wi-fi ($10/day), the breakfast (actually went down the street to the Starbucks, where eventually I took advantage of the FREE wi-fi) and of course the parking ($45/day!). These major hotel chains are exactly hurting for profits, but I suppose the people who regularly stay at these places aren’t vocal in the complaints. Or more likely, it’s not an issue to spend for these amenities.
But the smaller fish chains do need to compete, and so offering these freebies becomes a necessity. And it did influence my decision, just in the last few days, as well as the user ratings.
Case in point: we are heading to Santa Fe this weekend for a short trip with the kids. I went to Hotels.com and Booking.com, and checked two places in Trinidad, Colorado (the only two places in the town), which is three hours from here. Normally, we’d make this trip in a day, but because of forcasted inclement weather, we’ll be leaving late afternoon on Friday and breaking the car trip into two parts.
Both places, the Budget Host and the Holiday Inn and Suites, had all the above-mentioned cost-free perks: wi-fi, breakfast and parking. So what determined our final choice? What other visitors had said. On Booking.com, the Holiday Inn had an “excellent,” rating with an 8.8 score. The Budget Host, no descriptive rating, and only a 6.5. There were similar evaluations on Hotels.com.
See? Even I’m taken in by the things I’m supposed to be objective about