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Friday, August 8, 2008

10 things that annoy us about hotels #3 white Wi-Fi lies

Don’t get us wrong, we love Wi-Fi. We use it often. We’d use it more often except that hotels that promise Wi-Fi in every room are generally telling a little white (Wi-Fi) lie. And hotels that promise 'free' Wi-Fi that actually ends up being free are few and far between. It usually turns out that there’s only a signal in room 666 and in the foyer. Except to access the 'free' Wi-Fi in the foyer you have to log on and pay with your credit card. We've lost count of the number of times we’ve wandered hotel hallways looking for a signal. And that's even after we've double-checked that the hotel has Wi-Fi before booking the room and emailed the property to make sure we get a room with a wireless signal. Just last week, for example, we stayed in two five-star luxury hotels with Wi-Fi problems. In one of the hotels, the Wi-Fi router in our room was covered in dust and had never been connected to power. Ever. In the other, we had to stand in our hotel room doorway just to get enough signal to send emails. And these are hotels charging around €500 a night (not that we were paying that figure of course) and then have the hide to charge extra for Wi-FI – another annoyance. Give us good broadband access via cable and we’ll plug in our own Airport Express, thanks. At least we know it works!
A general manager of a large multinational five-star luxury hotel responds:
"Wi-Fi is the bane of our existence. At our hotel, we have an outside company that handles it but we just can’t get them to provide a service that consistently works. It’s mind-boggling. We have to try and get out of our contract with them to get it fixed. It’s a nightmare. And we know our guests are not happy, but our hands are tied."
While we sympathise, if the Wi-Fi's not working properly then guests shouldn't be charged for it. Frankly, though, it should be free anyway. We don't know about you, but to us, it's the most essential thing in the room, more crucial than a television or telephone. What do you think?

7 comments:

Happy Hotelier said...

Hi Lara
I am entirely with you on this one. In the past I used to take my laptop with a mobile connection, because Wifi wasn't en vogue yet. Until, until I found out the hard way that although the mobile operator promised a reasonable monthly flat fee, the fee didn't cover telephone clicks abroad....In one particular month where I only used the laptop two weeks in Switzerland the bill for Swiss roaming soared to over Euro 500, ie. over US $ 800....just for a daily check of my e-mail accounts...
Reason was inter alia that on the Swiss mountain the UMTS coverage was poor so frequently I was thrown back to the older and much slower mobile frequency.

After this experience I tend to rely on wifi with the same experience you have...and i don't want to puter in a lobby where everybody is curious to get a glimp of your screen (like in an airplane)....

In my own small hotel Wifi is free..and the rooms also have fast fast land line connections.

The Internet connection is there anyway...just the cost of a Wifi modem of around Euro 50,- does it.

In a bigger building the hotel has to creatively place some routers or signal amplifiers at a low cost...

But I know what is happening: The usual Hotel boys and girls don't know zilch of Wifi and then the fast selling Telecom guys tell them they have to install multi thousand dollar costing Wifi applications...

I know because my telephone operator tried to lure me into a 15.000 euro costing solution which I didn't need, because I, as said, could solve it with a 50 Euro modem.....

laradunston said...

We thought that's what must be happening. Thank god for small hotels and caring hoteliers like you!

Cherrye at My Bella Vita said...

Another interesting post. We have free wifi in our small B&B, as well. I am slightly offended at large hotels who charge for the service. If we can offer it-they can offer it!

Anu said...

It costs so little to have wi-fi these days, and its not so difficult to get good wi-fi I don't understand why these hotel fuss so much, that too big hotels who charge you for things which you will never use.

I prefer to stay with b&b or small family run hotels. Reviews from guys like you help me on that !

Tim and Nicole Harris said...

I've somehow stumbled across this insightful blog! I immediately bookmarked it...

On our last trip we left the laptop at home (*gasp*) and relied on internet cafes due to the usually sketchy connections at hotels. My question is, why do all internet cafes have a weird smell? I don't know the answer, but next trip we're bringing our laptop!

Nicole Harris

Travel Muse said...

I think we all agree that wi-fi will never actually be free. If it works throughout the hotel though, you can include it to my bill. I'm a business woman and I'll pay the charge to stay connected. What I don't understand is why break it out as a separate charge? Every guest of the hotel has to pay for it. It's not like it's "optional". Why not simply include it in the room charge? It's like the airlines charging you to check your bags or buy bottled water, you feel nickled and dimed.

I've experienced what you have Lara both for myself and my clients. I have to interrogate the hoteliers to find exactly which rooms have working wi-fi and book only those. It's very frustrating.

laradunston said...

Cherrye - I'm with you on this one.

Travel Muse - you see, I think it should be free, because there are many hotels around the world, including many 5 star hotels (particularly in Dubai) who offer it for free - it's considered to be an essential service, just as important as providing a telephone or TV. Many cities in Europe, in Belgium, Scandinavia and the Baltics, also offer it for free in their public squares and hot-spots around the city, so I don't see why hotels can't.