In my line of work, internet access is pretty much essential. I write in hotel rooms, I end up doing a lot of research and fact-checking in hotel rooms and I often just need to use the web to find where something I’ve been told about is on a map.
For me, a hotel that doesn’t have internet access – be it via cable or WiFi – is a non-starter. It’s mercifully rare to find one these days, although a number seem to be under the impression that it’s OK if the WiFi signal only covers the reception area and three out of 100 rooms. If you’re reading, hoteliers, this isn’t acceptable and it just makes you look stupid.
Hotel WiFi prices
When it comes to internet access, one thing that seems to get people riled up is cost. Some hotels really, really milk the customer for all it’s worth when it comes to WiFi. I’ve seen some truly outrageous hourly charges, and prices of up to EUR25 (around £22 or US$35) a day. This is clearly an attempt to gouge as much money out of a guest as possible.
Comparison of internet charges
The unusual thing about WiFi charges is that most customers have a fair idea of the actual cost. Anyone who has internet access at home knows how much they bought a router for and what the monthly charges from BT/ Virgin/ TalkTalk etc are. It’ll not work out than more than £2 a day for unlimited broadband internet access. To be presented with a fee that is ten times that shows exactly how the hotel regards you – an idiot to be stripped of as much cash as possible.
Should every hotel provide free WiFi?
So should every hotel provide free in-room WiFi? There’s a large section of the travelling community that seems to be pretty evangelical about this subject. WiFi should be free for all, everywhere, and anyone who doesn’t provide it is in league with the devil.
I’m not so militant about it. I understand that not everyone needs internet access in the room, and that installing it is an extra cost that affects the room rate slightly. But if you are going to charge for WiFi, the charge has to be reasonable. I’m not going to object to a small mark up on what it costs the hotel to put it in, but the ceiling should be £5 a day. Any more than that, and it’s flagrant profiteering.
This said, I think a decision to charge for WiFi is indicative of a hotel’s attitude. It’s the difference between “what can we add for little cost that will improve the guest’s experience?” and “how can we make more money from each customer?” Having to put credit card details in every time before going online is an unnecessary annoyance too.
Budget and luxury hotels
So, I’m prepared to give grace to the hotels operating at the cheaper end of the market (although, ironically, these are often the ones that will provide free WiFi anyway). Where charging large sums for internet access is completely out of order is in luxury hotels where you’re paying a fortune anyway. There’s just no excuse to be charging for web access when you’re charging over £100 a night anyway. So, as a checklist, if your hotel provides any of the following, you should not be charging for WiFi:
- Chocolates on the pillow.
- Turndown service.
- A concierge.
- A fitness centre and/ or pool.
- Men whose sole job it is to open the lobby doors for people approaching them.
Do you think all hotels should provide free WiFi? What annoys you about trying to get online whilst on the road? What’s the biggest WiFi charge you’ve ever encountered? Share your thoughts by leaving a comment below.
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