The good news is that Marriott is offering free Wi-Fi to frequent customers. The bad news is, it's looking for now at least, that the free Wi-Fi might not be available to those who book through a travel advisor, 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 travel agents 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.
UPDATE: Marriott has replied to us on Twitter that further details on how this policy will work with travel agents will be shared as we near the start date.
@TravelAgentMag Hi there! More details about this should be shared as we near closer to the start date. Stay tuned for additional details!— Marriott Internat'l (@MarriottIntl) October 31, 2014
Free Wi-Fi has by this point gained the status of a must-have amenity among travelers. Early last year, a travel agent survey by CCRA identified it as the most desirable amenity that a hotel could offer travelers, ahead of a free breakfast and a guaranteed room upgrade.
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.
Keep visiting www.travelagentcentral.com for further details.