A further quarter of people (24 per cent) say they wouldn’t choose a coffee shop without wi-fi access over one with it, stepping up the pressure for small businesses in the hospitality sector to provide a free, reliable internet connection to draw in customers
The Plusnet Business Survey, which spoke to around 2,500 people, found that 49 per cent of people want businesses to provide wi-fi access in public areas, free of charge, with 46 per cent of Londoners admitting they needed a constant internet connection to alleviate boredom whilst in a queue or taking a short journey.
Almost a fifth (17 per cent) said they would purposely choose a restaurant, bar or pub for its access to the internet, with the number rising slightly to 18 per cent for a shopping centre.
Crucially, however, over one in ten small businesses said that having a fast reliable internet connection increased their profits by 21-30 per cent.
Nick Silverwood, head of business at Plusnet said: “Through the Plusnet Business survey we can see that installing something as simple as free Wi-Fi for customers, can help generate repeat custom and definition within a market. With increased competition in the hospitality and retail markets, it’s important for small businesses to understand how investing in customer broadband has the potential to really boost sales.
He added: “With 12 per cent of respondents estimating that 21-30 of their profit is down to a fast and reliable Internet connection, there is a clear benefit to getting online.”
The real impact of wi-fi access on the bottom line is something that small businesses in the hospitality sector have been considering for some time. As long ago as 2007, research from Ireland found that free wireless internet access attracted three times as many customers as the provision of paid-for hotspots provided for by companies such as T-Mobile and BTOpenZone.
Meanwhile research from 2008 found that half of Brits wanted to surf the net on the go – and that sipping their pint in a pub was the preferred location.