Kochi, October 26 2014: Kudos to the Abad group of hotels in Kerala which has recently introduced free WiFi in all its properties!
The group runs a chain of 12 resorts and hotels in Kerala . Seven hotels are located in Cochin (Ernakulam) including one at Cochin International Airport and the resorts are located at Munnar, Kumarakom, Thekkady, Marari Beach and Kovalam.
About three years ago, the group had installed WiFi in most of its properties and was charging about Rs 250 per day or Rs 1000 per week for Internet access in the room. It is our informal feedback that the service did not find many takers especially in the more affordable hotels in the chain like the Ernakulam-based business hotel, Abad Metro where the daily tariff averaged Rs 2000.
Rather than rip out the unviable Wifi installations, Abad management seems to have decided -- rightly -- that it was worth giving away the WiFi free and attracting more guests this way. With their properties bookable on the Net, both at their own site, as well as through travel sites like MakeMyTrip, Yatra, Agoda etc, guests are able to search for hotels with free WiFi as one of the criteria in every city. Abad hotels will pop up in such searches and hopefully justify their gesture with increased footfalls.
During a recent stay at Abad Metro which we booked through MakeMyTrip after seeing the offer of free Internet, we availed of the facility, for which the front desk gives a 24 hour password, renewable every day.
We found the Wifi speeds when checked at SpeedTest.net to be around 1 MBPS -- good enough to check one's mail and surf popular sites.
We can only wish more properties in Kerala follow Abad's example. The state which aggressively promotes itself as God's Own Country and targets international tourists in competition with other Indian attractions like Goa, Jaipur, Agra etc, has sadly been grudging in IT-enabling its operations with services like broadband Internet and WiFi.
We think the state-owned Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) which runs its own chain of 9 mid range and luxury hotels in Kerala and Tamil Nadu, should set an example in this regard to private hotels and migrate their hotels WiFi from Fee to Free.
Sooner or later, all hotels will be forced by competition to do this. Why not be a leader rather than a laggard? -- Anand Parthasarathy