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October 31, 2014

Marriott to Offer Free Wi-Fi—But Will It Apply for Groups?

The good news is that Marriott is offering free Wi-Fi to frequent customers. The bad news is that the free Wi-Fi might not be available to those who book through a travel advisor or event organizer, since Marriott is stressing that the perk will go to those who book directly through its online channels and toll-free reservations numbers.

On October 30 the company announced that members of Marriott Rewards, the company's loyalty program, who book directly through Marriott.com, Marriott's mobile app, 1-800-MARRIOTT or through a Marriott hotel would receive free standard Wi-Fi, starting January 15, 2015. 

With the free Wi-Fi policy limited to direct booking channels, the question of how agents and planners could offer this important amenity to their clients remains unanswered. 

Marriott has said that it will continue to honor commitments with accounts and groups with negotiated agreements, and that further details on how this policy will work with travel agents and planners will be shared as the start date draws nearer. 

Earlier this month, Marriott was fined $600,000 for blocking guests' personal Wi-Fi devices and forcing them to use the hotel's network. 

The new benefit will be available at Marriott Hotels, JW Marriott, Renaissance, Gaylord Hotels, Autograph Collection, AC Hotels by Marriott, and Marriott Executive Apartments, as well as Marriott Rewards' luxury partner, The Ritz-Carlton. Brands that already offer free Wi-Fi -- EDITION, Moxy, Courtyard, Fairfield Inn & Suites, SpringHill Suites, Residence Inn, TownePlace Suites and Marriott Vacation Club -- will not be affected. 

Additionally, Marriott Rewards members at the higher Platinum and Gold Elite tiers will continue to have access to free enhanced Wi-Fi, which offers faster download speeds and the ability to stream movies and other media, as an exclusive benefit (where available). Other members may upgrade to enhanced Wi-Fi for a fee.

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