Not long ago free hotel wi-fi was a nice-to-have perk, but not something to get too annoyed about if it wasn’t offered. But, with such an increase in portable technology, shouldn’t hotels be making it free?
The mood at this week’s Abta Travel Convention suggests all that has changed and free wi-fi is now of comparable importance to hot and cold running water.
The speaker who went down best with the crowd (apart from ex-politician and ex-convict Jeffrey Archer, strangely) was the editor of Wired magazine, David Rowan, who called for a boycott of hotel chains levying high internet charges.
Why charge for wi-fi?
Rowan had been annoyed by his hotel charging 18 euros for a day’s wi-fi connection, which rose to 24 euros for a faster connection. To him, that was the equivalent of asking people to pay for cold water, and then asking for another payment if they requested hot.
Pointing out that airports and cafes were able to provide wi-fi for free, Rowan suggested we were being ripped off and should refuse to pay.
Many people at the conference – me included – thought he had a point. Charges might have been acceptable once, when wi-fi was relatively new and not so widely used. But with the explosive rise in the number of people with smartphones, tablets and e-book readers, wi-fi is something that many people use almost constantly.
And, looking around the conference hall during the debate, this was obvious – half the audience were checking their phones and giving their verdicts on the speakers on Twitter.
Wi-fi is a modern day essential
So if wi-fi is used by guests more often than they use the shower, why shouldn’t the service be free? And even if it’s not free, surely hotels should have to justify the charges they levy for using what has become a modern day essential.
Have you been taken aback by the size of the bill for using hotel wi-fi? Do you think charges should be reduced, scrapped, or included in the price of the room? Is having wi-fi as important as having hot water?