Free Wi-Fi isn’t just for hotel guests anymore. Restaurant operators are increasingly adding the amenity in an effort to satisfy the growing number of customers who expect and demand to be able to use their mobile devices everywhere, without depleting their own data allowance.
It’s a smart move: the availability of complimentary Wi-Fi access is becoming an increasingly significant factor in consumers’ choice of restaurants, says Jackie Rodriguez, an analyst and senior manager at food industry research and consulting firm Technomic (www.technomic.com). About 40% of participants in a recent study conducted by the Chicago-based company deemed free Wi-Fi an “important” or “very important” consideration in restaurant selection—second only to whether an establishment includes such information as menus on its website. Sixty-five percent of individuals polled said they “absolutely expect” quick-service restaurants to provide complimentary Wi-Fi, “and Wi-Fi is still more important to consumers in general than mobile-based features,” Rodriguez notes.