Friday, June 22, 2012

UnFreebie Friday: Will Hotels Ditch Free Wifi?

That's the disturbing question posed yesterday by Barbara DeLollis of USA Today.

Thankfully, DeLollis' headline (and mine) turned out to be a bit of an overstatement. Hotels know that consumers want free wifi, and will avoid those properties that don't offer it. So free wifi at those properties that offer it is here to stay.

But a number of large chains are now experimenting with tiered systems. Both Marriott and Carlson Hotels are charging extra for faster wifi, and Wyndham Hotel Group (which encompasses Ramada, Wyndham and Super 8) is also considering putting in a tiered system.

In their defense, the hotels point out that visitor usage has jumped by 50% just in 2011. In addition, a some 40% of guests are dipping into the stream with multiple wifi-enabled devices. Gone are the days when travelers just used wifi to check email. Nowadays they're streaming video, graphics and photos.

I'm a cheapskate, so I'd likely endure slower connectivity to avoid an extra fee. But I can see those wanting to watch movies or doing complex work online anteing up for faster wifi. It'll be interesting to see if this latest trend takes hold.

For DeLollis' complete article, click here.

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