How Hotels May Charge You For Internet in the Near Future
With the release last week of our 2013 Hotel WiFi report along with our subsequent report on hotel network speeds, we were feeling pretty good about the status of hotel WiFi. After all, 64 percent of hotel brands have free WiFi and even when you did have to pay for it, you were at least getting your money's worth (i.e. a $25 resort fee at the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas yielded blazing fast WiFi speeds).
But thanks to this recent article in the NY Times,
we're not feeling so upbeat anymore.
The article highlighted the changing nature of in-room entertainment. No longer do guests look for the hotel to supply them with in-room entertainment (TV and movies); guests instead bring their own in the form of laptops, smartphones and tablets loaded with streaming entertainment subscriptions like Hulu and Netflix.
So the next logical step here is strengthening the WiFi networks for guests so they can actually access all their entertainment, right? Not necessarily. First, hotels are going to make you pay for bandwidth to do all of this streaming and then they are going to see where else they can charge you while sitting in a hotel room you already paid for. Here's what stood out for us:
Bandwidth capacity at many Marriott International hotels will need to be increased to support these services, an expense Mr. C. Scott Hansen, [director of guest technology for Marriott International] said would be offset by guests’ purchases of Internet access, commissions paid by services like Netflix for signing up new members and advertising revenue from companies that could use the TV or guest’s laptop or tablet screen for messages.
So not only will internet not be totally free at bigger hotel brands like Marriott, you could also be facing some unwanted ads on your personal computer or tablet and you'll be giving the hotel a commission if you sign up for a service like Netflix during your stay. Sheesh. Do you want to try to make money every time we flush the toilet, too?
For now, your hotel internet options are still pretty easy to understand--either it's free or you pay for it. But we can't say for sure how much longer it will remain this simple. Could right now be as good as it gets for Hotel WiFi? Quite possibly.