Better news for Marriott’s wifi credentials today as a study shows that its properties in Australia have the best wifi connections of any hotel group.

The news comes after Marriott was fined $600,000 by the Federal Communications Commission in the US for blocking personal wifi hotspots.

(Marriott insists it did nothing wrong but paid up anyhow)

Back in Australia, the “Hospitality Trends: Internet usage and wifi deployment” report from B2B telephony and internet provider Broadband Solutions says that Marriott is the highest ranking hotel group for bandwidth capacity. It provides an average bandwidth of 80 mbps, sharing top spot in the five-star charts with Hyatt.

However, 80 mbps falls well short of what is expected elsewhere in the world. The report refers to a HITEC seminar in the US which found that “hotel chains and owners in the USA recommended a minimum of 100Mbps for most sites, with many areas needing 500Mbps.

“This trend is spreading out of America and becoming equally prominent in the Asia Pacific region”.

Broadband Solutions notes that the need for hotels to have bigger bandwidth is driven not only by the number of wifi enabled devices guests turn up with – an average of three – but also their expectation that they can get a signal anywhere on site – “even in the lift” it says.

And hotels with big conference facilities need even more bandwidth to cope with those pesky reporters live-tweeting, bored delegates planning their evening on the town or even attendees with a genuine need to deal with work-related emails.

So far, so obvious. But one issue raised by the report has wider implications and is part of the reason why so many businesses – usual suspects Sabre and Amadeus, new kids on the block Oracle – are making a move into hotel IT.

The report says:

“Core servers must communicate with Hotel’s PMS not only to ensure once visitors have checked out they do not have access.”

In isolation, a checked out guest hopping onto the wifi while waiting for the taxi is not that big a deal (unless of course the guest has checked out after breakfast because it needs to leave at lunchtime, but is still covering some sessions at the conference and needs to be online).

It is an illustration of the need for the various hotel IT systems to be able to talk to each other in real-time. We understand this dynamic in aviation – the order for your in-flight meal at the airline dotcom days in advance needs to get through to the ground handlers and the cabin crew.

Hotels, traditionally behind the IT curve, need to up their game. Better bandwidth for wifi is a start, but it’s going to get a lot more complicated than that.

Original author: Martin Cowen