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5 Excuses Hotels Have Given About Why They Still Charge for WiFi

April 23, 2014 at 4:15 PM | by | ()

"Go to the hotel across the street" is actually not an excuse we've heard from a hotel but rather, other hotel guests.

While the hotel industry has made great strides in recent years with free WiFi, there are still quite a few major brands that are charging for WiFi. We gave you a run-down of the biggest offenders yesterday with a list of 10 hotels that still charge for WiFi.

We also explored one of the major reasons why hotels have been slow to get on the free WiFi train--the owner/operator struggle. But we thought you'd like to see some of the other reasons various hoteliers and industry folk have given HotelChatter in the past years about why they charge for WiFi.

1. "It's expensive to build a WiFi network and we need to make up for that cost somewhere." (Note: you can read our 2012 Hotel WiFi Report infographic to see just how "expensive" it is for hotels to build and maintain a WiFi network.)

2. "Our building is a historic building and it's hard to outfit the hotel with WiFi."

3. "There are privacy and safety concerns with having free WiFi."

4. "It's a revenue stream and we'd be stupid not to tap into it."

5. "If you're paying $400 a night for a room, what's another $15 or $20?"


Meanwhile, these hotels seem to be making free WiFi work for them.

Last May, The Hotel Zaza in Dallas added a fiber data network at all three of their hotels, solely to make their guests' internet experience one of the best out there. Hotel president Benji Homsey said at the time:

We want every Hotel ZaZa guest to have the best, from coverage and access points to best of breed fiber data network to the newly installed bedside power docks in every room.

A manager at The Emblem Hotel in Prague must have ESP because he emailed us the day before our WiFi report went live with this endearing message:

You inspired me to such an extent that it's taken me a few months (we opened our hotel in September/October last year), but I have finally managed to drill all the way to the mainline and as of this week we are now offering all of our hotel guests the fastest hotel wifi in the world and it is all free (last weekend, with a 60% occupied hotel - we have 59 rooms - we had an average speed of 200 Mbps upload and slightly faster download). I know it's only in little old Prague, but as a traveller and hotelier, I like to think that I'm doing my bit.

We're still patiently (somewhat) waiting on Virgin Hotels to open but the hotel brand has already made free WiFi a priority, no loyalty program needed. Douglas Carillo, Virgin Hotels VP Sales and Marketing, told us last year:

" We already love our guests so much that we plan to give them all the tech amenities they need -- starting with wifi that is secure, reliable, fast, and free."

And we love this quote from Andrew Zobler, CEO of The Sydell Group, so much that we think it bears repeating:

"To charge for WiFi is just terrible. It's like charging for water, something you just don't do."


Archived Comments:

Wi-Fi and Phone Calls...

Yes, agreed, all hotels should provide wi fi for free. Our internet bill for a 150mb download and 50mb upload speed is $199/mo from Cox Communications, and even if we're 100% full and there are many users on our wi-fi system, extra bandwidth is pumped in to ensure a constant 150/50 speed... that's what you're paying for, constant speed no matter how much you're using at the moment, which is what I like about Cox.  I think something should be added here... we also provide free worldwide phone calls to all of our guests... why hasn't this been a priority yet?  It costs us only around $80/extra each month since international phone calls are so cheap... but also because so many people use skype and gmail for international calling.  Yet there's one additional thing to mention... more and more guests are traveling without computers or are using a computer with a 4G connection built-in, or are using their phone's connection to tether their computer... or just using their phone for everything.  I estimate that hotels won't even have wi-fi by 2020.... at which time phones will certainly start seeing 384-500 mb/sec service, and a which time google should be providing free mobile phone service to everyone.  Hotels won't need wi-fi, and people won't have mobile phone bills soon - sooner than you think.  For interest sake, our in-room surveys have two questions on them: 1) is having an alarm clock in your room important? -- 90% say no, because people are using their phones these days and 2) is having an in-room telephone important to you -- about 95% say no, because they just use their mobile phone or computer, and many don't even know how to use a cordless telephone these days, or just don't know a person's number any more.  About half the calls our front desk receives from guests come from their mobile phones, it's pretty crazy to think that they don't want to walk over to a phone 15 feet away to dial zero when they can just pull their phone out of their pocket.


yes, I agree too!