The WIFI Tax
Being a child of the internet age wifi, for me, is up there with water and air as a basic human right. Ok slightly melodramatic, but in all seriousness in an era where you can surf the great Information Superhighway while underground, in the middle of the ocean or at 30,000ft why-oh-why do some hotels and venues make it so difficult to access your emails? My bugbear here is further compounded by the outrageous charges some places deem fit to apply for you to take a quick glimpse of Twitter.
Some of the greatest offenders of this heinous act are in fact the most expensive hotels where the cost of a room for a nights stay can run in excess of £500. At what point they feel adding an extra £20 to this is reasonable goes beyond the realms of our comprehension. Not only content with charging you a small fortune they also make it bloody difficult to access. I just want to check emails without having to give all of my personal details, create an account and fill in credit card information, all using an iPhone. Just a few weeks ago I stayed at the Ibis Luton airport before an early morning flight. For £50 I got a clean, modern hotel for a night and free wifi, which to access I simply had to tick a box.
It should be mentioned as well that I won’t be fobbed off with ‘Public Area Access’. Why should guests be made to work in public areas rather than the comfort a privacy of their rooms? Nor will we stand for free wifi for select members of a hotel loyalty scheme, exclusion does not breed loyalty.
Now venues/hotels, we are not unreasonable people, we accept that it is a costly business to install and maintain a good wifi service, however it was also costly when you had to put in running water, buy pillows and install en-suites. The difference is we pay for these at check in, which is exactly where we should be paying for our wifi, within the room rate. Of course a lot of the problems stretch back to when wifi first came about and hotels signed contracts with third parties who would install wifi networks for free in return for exclusive rights for a set period of time. I can only hope those who lacked the foresight to see that wifi/internet access may one day be useful and agreed to these contracts have long since been fired.
Anyway amidst the angst of this blog there is a message to all you venue bookers and event planners. That is check the wifi situation before you sign on the dotted line. Even if you book the fanciest, most sublime venue, delegates and guests will not be your biggest fans if they are forced to hand over cold hard credit card details for internet access. You can even use it as a bargaining chip, if a venue is charging tell them you’ll be taking your booking elsewhere unless they drop charges for all delegates. This is even more important if you end up in some underground conference bunker with no phone signal. Stick 100 business folk in a room without wifi or 3G and you’ll have mutiny on your hands within minutes.
Excellent report on free wifi by Hotel Chatter (Update: Novotel is now free)
Written by Paul Moynihan, Director of wefindvenues.com. If you require a venue anywhere in the UK for an event then submit a free enquiry to venues in that area, it’s simple, free and gives access to great savings.