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Free, as in Wi-Fi?

by Retired Blogger on ‎08-10-2009 08:23 AM - last edited on ‎04-30-2012 05:34 PM by Moderator

wifi_250-2.jpg As I write this post, My wife and I are on vacation in the lovely (extremely lovely) city of Montreal.

We've been here for a week and a bit, part as tourist, and part as an attendee at the World Science Fiction Convention (AnticipationSF). In fact, I'm typing this post in the convention hall, in an area provided with free Wi-Fi by the convention.

By now you know I'm a tech-head. I live and breath Tech, which means I also make certain assumptions, not always to my benefit.

My latest assumption is that Free Wi-Fi is always available in your hotel room. And when it's not, I'm no longer so Awesome :smileysad:

Not so.
Initially, we'd stayed at this amazing Montreal B&B, and everything was as you'd expect in a B&B experience. We ensured that Wi-Fi was wasn't at all B&Bs. It will be at our next stop, also a B&B, in Quebec City.

But, and here's where I made an Assumption (and you know what they say about those). I had assumed, that when we moved from the B&B to the big-name downtown hotel, Wi-Fi would naturally be available and included in the room rate. Yes, Wi-Fi was available, and advertised as being available, but it was not advertised as being free, or having any cost associated with was just 'available'. They charged per hour. A very expensive rate too. Obviously I should have checked before booking this hotel.

It's a business.
Now, I understand that this is a hotel that caters to business and visitors, and that they could have easily embedded the Wi-Fi charges into my 'room rate', and I would have been as happy as a clam.

By forcing me to login and pay each time I want to access the Internet, they're reminding me that I'm paying for this service. It is not a 'complementary' service, as is the pool, the ice, the discount on attraction tickets, etc. This is an additional fee for something which, for me, is almost as essential as air or food. It is a business expense that not every hotel guest requires.

Fuzzy Logic?
But here's where it gets me. Once Wi-Fi is set up and running, it costs almost nothing to maintain. Guests who don't need the service don't impact the hotel at all. Guests who do, appreciate the 'free' nature and think warm fuzzy thoughts as they surf the web, and post on blogs. For me, as this post shows, I'm not thinking warm fuzzy thoughts. I'm forced to pay for Wi-Fi, or pack up my laptop and take it to the convention-provided free Wi-Fi.

And, for some silly reason, hotel-provided free Wi-Fi is just outside of my expectation envelope. For some reason, I expect Wi-Fi to be free. Maybe it's just wishful thinking brought on by being at a Science Fiction convention.

Ok, this is a rant for me, am I on base or off. What do you think? What are your expectations when traveling?

Message Edited by bgrier on 08-10-2009 09:23 AM

by maceyr on ‎08-10-2009 10:28 AM

I too agree that it's a "no brainer" for businesses to provide free wi-fi.  I only wished more businesses offered them.  While in Vegas (home of CES and many other tech conferences), I was extremely annoyed that free wifi was extremely hard to find.  In fact, many hotels charge daily rates that are almost the price of a 3 course meal!  Come on!


I ended up visiting Krispy Kreme a lot to stay connected although I'm sure Krispy Kreme didn't mind me buying their donuts daily.  Like you have already mentioned, wifi doesn't cost very much and it makes a HUGE deal for customers and potential customers.  I visit Starbucks sometimes just for the wifi, and of course getting my coffee.


I do try to do some research and look for free wifi on the web before I go on my trips so that if given the opportunity, I can get some internet access.  It's too bad that business don't look at it from the point of view of GETTING more customers rather than FORCING them to pay for something that costs them pennies to maintain.  Thankfully, some businesses realize this and offer them.  Only wish more do so.

by Exalted Expert on ‎08-10-2009 11:58 AM

I've gone to 3 conferences recently, including WES in Orlando in May, and sure enough, I had to pay seperate for wifi in the hotel rooms at each of these conferences.  In one, we got a conference rate of $9.95US per day, at the other two, no such luck.  And to make matters worse, if you have two people staying in the same room and you both want wifi, you both needed to pay the fee.


I know where the hotels are coming from, but at the same time, seriously?  When you're paying $150/night in the off season, free wifi should be included no questions asked.  Unfortunately, it seems that free wifi is going the way of the dodo... it's getting harder and harder to find it. 


I was also used to being able to get free wifi at airports, and even many airports don't provide free service anymore.  I was really shocked at the rates at London Heathrow.  And yes, they supposedly had a free service, but for some reason, I couldn't connect to it - twice - on the way to my destination and the way back, no matter what I tried.


Alas, while free wifi used to be easy to find, it's far from now.  And when you can find a place to connect now, you worry about is it a safe connection?  Or am I making my computer vulnerable to some hacker who waits for people to connect to his free wifi?  Questions, questions.

by Retired Blogger on ‎08-10-2009 05:10 PM

@maceyr & @krypto, thanks for that. It does seem that free wi-fi is harder to find. I know there was an item about New York coffee shops limiting their WiFi hours or removing it outright. I just don't get that though...customer management is a service issue. They should be able to develop local shop policies for wi-fi use.


@Krypto, you raise a good point about who's monitoring your free Wi-Fi...I should look into that a bit more.


Of course, I'm now using the hotel's paid Wi-Fi to update this...sigh. Looking forward to the complementary Wi-Fi on Via for our trip to Quebec City. 

by Blogger on ‎08-10-2009 11:43 PM

I've noticed that higher end hotels have pay wifi while lower end, free. I think it should be just like a phone or in room coffee. The Internet is now just a part of what we need to do to get things done.


This is also why I haven't given up my unlimited data plan on my Telus EVDO modem. I connect and share the connection over AirPort. Not speedy, but workable!

by Retired Blogger on ‎08-11-2009 06:25 PM
@tris, agreed, maybe we're still a bit ahead of the curve on this, but everyone expects a phone and TV in the room, though you do pay huge phone bills in most hotels too. Maybe they're thinking this is something similar. Sad if this seems to be the trend.
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