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Frequent Flyer Travel Technology

Marriott Offers Free Wi-Fi for All Rewards Members

Beginning on January 15, all members of Marriott’s Rewards program will receive free standard in-room Wi-Fi at most Marriott hotels. Finally!

Internet access has become a basic expectation of travelers, and the status quo—with pricier hotels charging for Wi-Fi where “value” brands offer it for free—has been a niggling sore spot among hotel customers.

Beginning on January 15, 2015, all members of Marriott’s Rewards program will receive free standard in-room Wi-Fi at most Marriott family hotels, when bookings are made directly on Marriott.com, Marriott’s mobile app, 1-800-MARRIOTT, or through a Marriott hotel.

A number of Marriott brands already feature free in-room Wi-Fi, so the new Rewards policy amounts to an expansion of a current limited-availability benefit.

Refusing to participate are the Protea brand hotels and a handful of individual properties throughout the Marriott network of more than 3,800 hotels. Those holdouts amount to no more than a pinprick in what could otherwise be fairly deemed a true systemwide benefit.

What may still give Marriott loyalists pause, however, is the qualifier in “standard Wi-Fi.” That suggests that Marriott is moving toward a two-tiered Wi-Fi system. And indeed, the company’s announcement takes pains to reassure elite Rewards members that their status will still entitle them to “enhanced Wi-Fi.”

Travelers don’t just want free Wi-Fi, they want free fast Wi-Fi. If it turns out that Marriott’s standard Wi-Fi delivers anything less than a fast ride on the information highway, Rewards members may judge the new benefit more irksome than rewarding.

Reader Reality Check

When it comes to hotel Wi-Fi, what download speeds do you expect to be offered for free?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

By Tim Winship

After 20 years working in the travel industry, and 15 years writing about it, Tim Winship knows a thing or two about travel. Follow him on Twitter @twinship.

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