Sunday, January 4, 2015

Wifi Entitlement

Free wifi might not be an entitlement, but any hotel that decides to block alternative sources of wifi is going to lose my business.  The good news is that the FCC might not let Marriott and its ilk do this.  The bad news is that I have little faith in regulators these days.

While I would like to have free wifi at airports (some do, some don't), I merely expect that the hotels have decent wifi for a minimal cost (around $10 per day).  It is pure profit, of course, not unlike the baggage fees that airlines charge these days.  But charging a ransom for using wifi during a conference?  No thanks.

Last year, I organized a panel on twitter for the ISA that took place in Toronto.  The Sheraton wanted to charge $75 per person for wifi in the conference rooms.  Because most of the participants were not Canadians and were roaming, they could not resort to using their cellphones to participate in the twitter conversation associated with the panel.  I had much sympathy for the audience and panelists since I am usually the one looking for low/reasonable wifi since I roam while I am in the US.

Charging extravagant fees for wifi is a sure way to alienate a clientele.  Providing free wifi is a great way to gain clientele.  Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, McDonalds all have gained my loyalty since they are islands of free wifi while traveling in the US.  Hotels?  I may not go to hotels that offer free wifi, although I do seek higher status in my hotel loyalty program so that I can get free wifi.  I certainly will avoid hotels that charge too much, and will definitely avoid Marriott as long as they seek to block wifi.  We know they are not interested in consumer protection but in accumulating unearned profits.

I may not be entitled to free wifi, but hotels are not entitled to high fees for wifi either.  I will vote with my feet and my grant budgets.

I got this response from Marriott:
My response: I would believe them if they didn't charge exorbitant fees for wifi in their conference spaces.  So, no, I don't believe them.

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