When business people are travelling, they frequently need to keep in touch with their business, and submit reports etc. In fact some may be required to do so. Nowadays, with Cloud computing, staying in touch is easy for many businesses. The options for this are either mobile broadband, which can be slow and expensive or WiFi at the hotel or venue. But WiFi charges can also be high and there are wide variations in the cost.
Recently, on holiday in Gran Canaria, I wanted to use my Windows 7 phone to check emails each day. Data roaming charges on the mobile connection can be extremely high, and in this instance network seemed to be blocking roaming data connections anyway.
So in order to do my 5 or 10 minutes email checking each day, I had to use the hotel WiFi. This cost either €4 per day or €29 for the week. Even at that price it was only available in the lobby, not the bar area or my room. So I had to irritate my other half, by going off periodically for my 5 minute browse. So a big thumbs down to the Maspalomas Princess, and I presume all the other hotels in their chain. On the other hand; I say ‘well done’ to one hotel near me, the Statham Lodge. Their WiFi is hotel wide and free; no login required, but you need to get the encryption key from reception; which means that your communications are also secure! Many pubs and cafés can offer free WiFi
If hotels can provide soap, shower gel and complimentary ‘nibbles’ with your coffee, then why not provide complimentary WiFi? Depending on the size of the establishment, the costs to the hotel of providing this service can vary from £10 a month to several £100s. But for a 300 bed establishment, even £500 per month would be a small dent in their budget. So why can’t it be free or at a realistic price. Or maybe the providers are ripping off the hotel’s customers – installing the service for free and using the hotel as their agent?
I did once, in the early days of WiFi, set up a hotel client with BT Openzone. This was very reasonable, the hotel paid just a few hundred pounds upfront and then no on-going costs. Instead they received a proportion of all the revenue generated by that site, whether people used their own accounts or purchased time online. What is more the time purchased through BT Openzone is portable; you can use any remaining at your next venue.
All this makes expensive non-portable WiFi seem like a rip-off!
The Telegraph recently had an article on this topic.