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SMS U.K. Report: 48 Percent of EV Drivers Would Not Stay at Hotel Without Onsite EV Charging


GLASGOW, SCOTLAND—U.K. hotels that fail to offer onsite electric vehicle (EV) charging risk driving away guests and missing out on invaluable Total Revenue Per Available Room (TRevPAR), a new report from SMS plc has revealed.

Past encounters and the availability of EV charging are causing frustration among hotel guests who’ve embraced the EV revolution. As a result, over two-thirds (67 percent) of respondents state that it is now influencing their choice of hotel, with almost a half (48 percent) of U.K. EV drivers simply choosing not to stay at a hotel without onsite EV charge points.

The study of over 1,000 UK EV drivers by SMS explores the current experience of those who use, and rely on, public EV charge points. Despite an almost ubiquitous love of their EV (94 percent), 68 percent of EV drivers say it is stressful to always have to think about public charging availability when they take a long journey, and 88 percent believe public EV charging needs to improve if U.K. drivers are to be encouraged to transition to electric.

Many Have Used EV Charge Points

The hotel industry has its part to play in ensuring that public EV charging is fit for purpose. Almost a third (29 percent) of U.K. EV drivers had used hotel EV charge points during an overnight stay for leisure and the same figure (29 percent) for business travelers.

The number of fully electric or hybrid cars on U.K. roads recently hit over 1.3 million yet less than 7 percent (or 3,100) of the U.K.’s charge points are located at hotels.

As a result of historically long wait times and lack of availability, 83 percent of respondents are prepared to wait to access an EV charge point at a hotel. Over a third (38 percent) would consider a wait of up to an hour, and a quarter (26 percent) up to two hours. However, over three-quarters (77 percent) are willing to pay for an EV concierge service at a hotel to limit the inconvenience caused by waiting.

Mark Winn, Head of EV Strategy at SMS plc explained: “Onsite EV charge points should no longer be seen as a competitive advantage for U.K. hotels; it’s the guest experience surrounding them that delivers the point of differentiation. By offering convenient and seamless EV charging options, both independent hotels and the larger hotel groups can encourage guests to return and increase brand loyalty. In addition, reducing the need for guests to look elsewhere for suitable EV charging can help to maximize potential TRevPAR.

“However, understanding how to implement the most effective EV charging infrastructure can be a minefield. Not all EV charge points are created equal; the type required varies depending on where it’s being installed and who is using it. Hotels must avoid the trap of focusing solely on the revenues offered by charge point operators (CPOs) which invariably includes installing a smaller number of rapid charge points without the ability to book or reserve.

“This delivers a poor experience, thanks to limited availability leading to longer wait times, and ultimately means EV driving guests will look elsewhere for their charging needs. Instead, hotels should consider the wider revenue opportunity—such as food and beverage sales, presented by EV drivers. The rule of thumb is to plan the implementation with three R’s in mind—right time, right location, and right speed. This will deliver the right balance, and number, of EV charge points with speeds that match the time guests are spending onsite. For example, fast chargers for guests staying for leisure or business, and rapid or ultra-rapid chargers for day visitors.”

Guest Payment Preferences

The research also revealed important insight into the payment expectations of hotel guests:

  • For 43 percent of U.K. EV drivers, the preferred option for paying for EV charging at a hotel is at the end of their stay, or as an additional charge and part of their final bill.
  • A quarter (24 percent) would choose to pay immediately via a hotel website or app, but only 8 percent preferred the option of a third-party website or app.
  • However, a third (31 percent) would expect EV charging to be free or included in the room rate.
  • An additional 24 percent of drivers would look to redeem points from hotel rewards programs to settle their charging bill.

Winn added: “A central part of ensuring a premium experience for hotel guests, once onsite E.V. charge points are installed, is to make access and payment as simple and transparent as possible.”

In response, and to ensure hotels are fully prepared for the U.K.’s transition to EVs, SMS has published “It’s time hotels ‘plug in and power up’: Maximizing TRevPAR with onsite EV Charging”. It aims to offer hoteliers a clear insight into the steps they need to take to ensure their EV charging offer meets the needs of their customers and is fit for the U.K.’s electric revolution. The report also gives practical advice on how to roll out effective onsite EV charge point infrastructure that drives additional revenue streams and offers return on investment (ROI), as well as enhancing EV drivers’ guest experience.