I took an overnight trip to London last month, I stayed in a nice hotel, not far from Trafalgar Square. A hotel that uses “classic luxury” as a descriptor. They wanted to charge me to use their wifi, in fact on check out they tried to charge me for 3 minutes internet time.
Opposite the hotel was a Costa Cafe, with good coffee, nice staff and free wifi. So I wandered across the road, ordered a large latte and used wifi there.
So why couldn’t the hotel provide free wifi? I pondered this as I sipped my coffee. To start with I was a bit annoyed and was working up to a good rant, but on reflection it makes sense.
The cafe has a lot of competition, several other cafes in walking distance and a bookstore with wifi. So if providing wifi attract more customers, or encourage customers to stay longer – and order a second cup, it’s well worth the costs. It’s a matter of beating the competition.
Hotels with a large proportion of business travels have customers who are less price sensitive since it’s often their company paying, and not funded from their own pocket. The extra charges for wifi will be picked up by expenses.
I predict a change; free wifi is becoming an expectation in any public space and I know one Asian-based businessman who includes it as criteria in selecting a hotel. No free wifi, no booking.