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Some like it hot. But more people like it free. We're talking about WiFi here.
In the wake of all of our WiFi news from last week, we've got some great news from the land Down Under, where getting free WiFi or even cheap WiFi is never easy. In fact, it's almost impossible. But not anymore.
Starting this week, Amalgamated Holdings Limited will be offering guests at all their hotels complimentary WiFi to browse the web, check email and Instagram the cool rooms (or so the hotel group hopes.)
Take it from us, WiFi doesn't come cheap at hotels in Oz. We've been offered up some connectivity if we forked over anywhere from $15 to $29.90 per day. Yes, we said per day! Now, you see why this is such a big deal for an entire portfolio of over 40 hotels to ante up some WiFi as part of the nightly rate.
Let this be a little message to other hotels, just do it already! Offering this service can't be that hard, can it?
Is this chick a basic (internet) bitch?
But if you're staying in a hotel, it's good to be basic. By that we mean, you only use the internet for basic tasks like checking your email, updating your Facebook status, and reading your favorite websites. If you aren't basic, then you're probably going to have to cough up a few dollars to get some high-speed, high-quality internet so you can download you're favorite TV show or movie.
But if you don't mind that Buzzfeed or the Daily Mail takes a minute to load, then go on with your basic self!
Are you a basic internet user? Or do you often pay to get the higher bandwidth option? Tell us what kind of internet user you are in comments below!
To all the hotels out there that still insist on charging for WiFi, consider this comment we just received:
Earlier this month I stayed at the San Diego Marriott Mission Valley which provides WiFi in the room for $12.99 a day!
When I questioned this they told me that I had the option of using the free WiFi in the Lobby, which didn't help me when I needed to check my email while still in pajamas at 6:00AM.
Other than the WiFi situation the hotel was great, but it's the only reason I need to ensure I never book this hotel again.
It's a shame that they will lose my future business over a ridiculous WiFi fee, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one.
The flagship Hilton brand and its luxury properties (Conrad and Waldorf Astoria) still charge in the guestrooms as do Embassy Suites and DoubleTree by Hilton, while the "focused service" and extended-stay brands--Hampton Inn & Suites, Hilton Garden Inn, Homewood Suites and Home2 Suites-- typically have it for free. Hilton has also introduced a tiered WiFi structure for guests who need more than just basic internet.
But beyond the actual physical WiFi offerings, Hilton has also introduced a personal service--The StayConnected Program which includes a 24-hour dedicated call center to help guests with their WiFi issues while traveling.
The program also allows owners and operators access their bandwidth usage so they can better understand the needs of guests coming into their hotel. Which should be pretty simple--we all need fast, working WiFi. So give guests the best network that you can.
For more on who's still charging for WiFi and why, read our 2014 Annual Hotel WiFi Report.
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To get online at a Marriott Hotel, typically you have to hang out in the lobby where the flagship brand of Marriott International has free WiFi for all, across all their hotels. Marriott has done this for its other brands too, including JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton. But unless you're an elite member of Marriott Rewards you still have to pay for WiFi in your hotel room.
This is frustrating for sure, but even more so when Marriott International's select service brands----Courtyard by Marriott, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Springhill Suites, Residence Inn and TownPlace Suites--have free WiFi for all guests, everywhere in the hotel. And they aren't just offering free WiFi, they're making sure it's really good WiFi.
In the past year, these brands have been pushing hard to improve the quality of their WiFi speeds for guests through a variety of strategies. For example, the newest Courtyard by Marriott which opened in NYC earlier this year, has "1.25 gigabytes of bandwidth with horizontal and vertical fiber optical cable network that allows for fast, extensive use on multiple devices at one time." Marriott has also introduced a tiered structure where basic WiFi is free and where faster WiFi can be bought. (The tiered WiFi structure is also in place the brands that charge for basic WiFi.)
While we can only hope that all of Marriott International's hotel brands will soon have free WiFi in the guest rooms, we do have to commend this special group for making free and working WiFi a priority.
To that end we asked Violeta Seidell, Vice President, Project Services for Marriott International a few questions (via email) about Marriott's recent WiFi strategies. While her answers focus mainly on the select service brands, a Marriott rep tell us the answers also apply to the full-service brands.
"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.
Whether you’re a frequent traveler or a once-a-year vacationer, there’s one amenity you’re probably counting on during your next hotel stay--free, working WiFi.
You're not alone. Hotels.com released a recent survey where hotel guests ranked free WiFi as the most important in-room amenity. See ya, minibar Snickers!
Fortunately, free WiFi has become more commonplace these days (at least 64 percent of hotels!) especially at hotels that caters to business travelers like Courtyard by Marriott and ones that hang with millennials like Ace Hotels. Even traditional brands have let their guard down, like Loews Hotels, who went free at all 19 hotels earlier this year.
Yet there are still a few
greedy grinchy hold-outs, typically the luxury hotels and the heavily-franchised brands.
In past editions of our Annual WiFi Report, we’ve done extensive research, lists, diagrams, infographics and the like, all of which you can scroll through here. But this year, we’re taking a "Scared Straight" tactic.
Here are 10 hotels that are STILL charging for WiFi. You can make your booking decision accordingly*.
*Some of these brands offer WiFi free in the lobbies or public spaces and some individual properties even offer it free everywhere or as part of a resort fee. But more often than not, you can expect to pay for internet at these hotels. See even more brands that charge for WiFi here.
Keep reading for more on why hotels charge for WiFi and how you can get it for free.
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A speck in the strikingly blue sea, there are no towns or high-rises, no major roads or cars (each guest, young and old, gets a bicycle), just white sandy beaches, that picture-perfect palm tree, and (what the resort promises is) blazingly fast and free internet, being the first test case for 4G capability in the Caribbean.
UPDATE: The free WiFi is in effect at all Loews Hotels. "Prompt, reliable Internet access has become a necessary and expected hotel amenity. We're delighted to be one of the first hotel brands in our category to offer complimentary Wi-Fi access to each and every one of our guests," said Paul Whetsell, President & CEO of Loews Hotels & Resorts." AMEN.
Ladies and gentlemen and kids of all ages, start your laptops, smartphones, tablets, etc.,: Free Wi-Fi is available at Loews Hotels beginning January 22, 2014.Has hell frozen over? It feels like it with recent weather we're having and with this little bit of news that we just got--Loews Hotels is now offering FREE WIFI in all of its 18 hotels. Yes, that even includes the Orlando hotels.
There's a big announcement on the home page of LoewsHotels.com today and we hear a press release with the full info will be coming soon.
What we want to know is if the WiFi will be outright free or if you have to be a member of the YouFirst loyalty program. Not that it matters. All that matter is that WiFi is free. Our years of pleading for free WiFi are finally starting to pay off. A round of drinks on us!
[Screengrab: Loews Hotels]
We've all been there: You pay $9.99 or whatever for wireless in your room, only to discover that the speed of the Internet barely allows you to navigate your favorite websites frustration free. Download a photo? Watch a video? Update your blog? Forget it.
As hybrid travelers who (for better or worse) need to be constantly connected on the road for business, we've found ourselves trapped many a time, tapping our fingers and wondering if there are any coffee shops nearby where we might be able to get some work done. It's an awful feeling, mostly because when we see that a hotel offers WiFi, we have the tendency to assume it's as hearty as our connection at home. This, unfortunately, is still not the case in 2013.
Plenty of hotels skimp on speed and reliability when it comes to Wifi, seemingly happy to simply add it to its list of amenities. Whether it actually works for anyone is a different story. It begs the questions: Should hotels advertise the speed of their Internet?
It's one of the most frustrating aspects of a hotel stay these days--busted hotel WiFi. Short of traveling with your own WiFi network, there's not much you can do when the hotel's network is down. But before you start raising hell to the front desk about how you can't get on the internet, make sure you really can't get on in the internet first. Here are a few fixes to try. Good luck!
1. Make sure you're connected to the right hotel network. A lot of fake or poseur networks will pop up as a way to entice naive guests into signing onto that network and unknowingly, give all their private information away. Sadly, these internet pirates are a way of digital life now. So be sure to find out the correct network to sign onto from the hotel. Most hotels will offer this information on a card placed near the desk or on the key card envelope giving at check-in.
2. Make sure you've entered the right password, name or room number. This sounds like advice from Captain Obvious but often times, hotel networks will ask for a combination of your last name, your room number and a special passcode. Make sure you've entered all three correctly and in the right boxes. We've been known to enter in the room number in the name box and vice versa. (But only after we've been raiding the minibar booze.)
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While Mandarin Oriental Hotels have an impressive collection of hotels that never fail to dazzle, we've always been a bit annoyed by their WiFi charges, especially since their rooms don't come cheap. For example, at the Mandarin Oriental Paris, rooms cost over $1,000 USD but the hotel also charges another $20 for WiFi. Mon dieu! However, that will now change.
Mandarin Oriental has announced that they will give its guests complimentary internet access to those guests who create an online profile and book published rates through the hotel's own website. A-ha, we see what you've done here.
You can create your Mandarin Oriental online profile here. It's free to do but it does require you filling out some personal information like your name, address and gender. This will no doubt means you will be receiving some marketing mail, both paper and electronic, from Mandarin Oriental.
However, Mandarin Oriental does stress that they will offer you the best rate on their site. And if you find a better rate, Mandarin Oriental will not only match the rate, but they will offer you a further 10 percent reduction. And once you make your reservation through Mandarin Oriental, you'll get free internet access for up to six personal devices.
That's pretty rad. We hate having to jump through this online profile hoop but it does seem like it will pay off during our next stay. Now, if only we can scrounge up a $1,000 for the Mandarin Oriental Paris.
[Photo of Mandarin Oriental Paris: JasonD/HotelChatter]