Hotel Wi-Fi: Still Not a Given

By  |  Tuesday, September 21, 2010 at 9:25 am

USA Today has a trend story about upscale hotels hawking two price tiers for wi-fi, with the lower tier sufficient for e-mail and web browsing, and the higher one suitable for video and other high-bandwidth services.

As with the recurring story of wi-fi-free coffee shops, i’m not sure this one is fresh. In my experience, two-tiered wi-fi dates back at least a couple years, and the story presents only anecdotal evidence that the trend is growing: One upscale hotel chain, InterContinental, is testing the concept in three locations, and another, Four Seasons, has expanded two-tier Wi-Fi after testing began last year. InterContinental charges $10 per day for basic access and $15 for higher speeds.

The more surprising part of the story, I think, is that hotels, especially upscale ones, are still charging for wi-fi in the first place.

When I book a hotel, free wi-fi is a prerequisite. In cases where I don’t handle the booking, I’m shocked to check in and find, in some cases, that wi-fi costs upwards of $10 per day. You’d think that free wi-fi is a selling point for hotels, not a way to skim a few extra bucks from customers who need connectivity.

As for two-tiered pricing, it seems reasonable, but only as a freemium deal: Get free wi-fi for simple tasks, and pay the daily rate if you intend to suck up a lot of bandwidth. That would discourage freeloaders from putting a strain on the network, while giving regular customers the basic access they need.

Hotels that continue to charge for wi-fi will get their comeuppance. As smartphone use grows, users will find tethering and creating Wi-Fi hotspots more economical, especially for multiple-night stays.

 
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2 Comments For This Post

  1. ahow628 Says:

    It makes sense to me. At upscale hotels, your clientele is going to be business travelers on the company dime, don't have a choice of what hotel they are at, and have to have wifi, regardless of the cost. At budget motels, you have families on budgets that wouldn't pay for it in any case and do have a choice of what motel they stay at so it becomes a commodity.

  2. IcyFog Says:

    "The more surprising part of the story, I think, is that hotels, especially upscale ones, are still charging for wi-fi in the first place.
    When I book a hotel, free wi-fi is a prerequisite."
    Ditto. Agreed, and if not, I change my plans.