Written for the Occupancy Marketing blog

Hotel guests expect certain things – clean sheets, a hot shower and a good night’s sleep are all givens. Some things which were previously only seen by hotels as perks and freebies, are now expected, even at 2 & 3 star hotels.

One of our big bugbears is finding WiFi costs extra (or is of poor quality), a common disgruntle among many hotel users.

Using Google Trends we’ve been looking at how searches for certain freebies have evolved over time and it’s important to note that the search trends are showing people care far more about parking and WiFi, than a free minibar.

The following are growing search trends:

  • Free WiFi. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Remember to mention this on your website. We’ve seen harsh reviews on TripAdvisor for those hotels who do charge and it’s of poor quality.
  • Free parking. Don’t be shy, put it clearly on your website.
  • Free hotel shuttle. Taxi and car services are not expected to be complimentary, but a free hotel shuttle service is a growing search trend and worth considering implementing.
  • Free hotel bike (or boat!). A free loaner bike or boat lets the guests see the area around a hotel with ease.
  • Free hotel trips. This is a steady search trend in Google Trends, and should probably fall into the category of “nice-to-have”, but the high level of traffic suggests that for some cities guests are beginning to expect the hotel to play a part in organising some events or trips for guests.

Nice-to-have extras (these don’t have great search traffic, but keep guests happy)

  • Free late checkout
  • Free minibar or minibar snacks
  • Free fruit (either in the room or in the lobby)
  • Free room flowers or chocolates
  • Free check-in drinks
  • Free spa treatments
  • Free upgrades

With hotel guests across the industry expecting free WiFi and free parking those “freebies” aren’t going to gain any extra thanks or mentions on Facebook but there’s a lot of potential for extra social coverage for the hotel if perks or treats such as a free drink on arrival or a free tour of a city can be arranged.

So… what does your hotel offer for free?