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It's time for a walk down memory lane with a HotelChatter flashback!
Way back in 2004, HotelChatter put together its first ever WiFi Report. Check out who made the first annual Best and Worst Hotel WiFi lists.
· Kimpton Hotels (still doing it free for their InTouch members)
· Omni Hotels (still doing it free for their Omni Select Guest members)
· Marriott's Residence Inn (still free!)
· Best Western (still free!)
· Holiday Inn/Holiday Inn Express (still free!)
· Marriott Hotels (free in lobbies, most charge in-room, except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Fairmont Hotels (free for members of their President's Club)
· Hilton Hotels (free in lobbies, most charge in-room except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Hyatt Hotels (still charges for WiFi except if you are an elite member of their loyalty program)
· Any other hotel that charges for WiFi in the lobby (plenty of hotels still do this, particularly if you aren't a hotel guest.
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Ever since HotelChatter's first annual Hotel WiFi Report in 2004, we've insisted that in-room WiFi was as essential as a working shower or air conditioning and that it needed to be offered free, fast, and reliably.
Hotels often gave us the run-around, blaming the costs of installing WiFi networks, the contracts they signed with the hotel owners or network security. But as more and more travelers book their hotel stays based on free WiFi, hotels have begun to drop their nickel and diming ways.
Today, at least two thirds of hotels have realized that offering free WiFi is in their best interests. Progress! Furthermore, many of these hotels have doubled down to put in reliable, fast WiFi networks for their older hotels, even if it means a big capital investment.
However, the battle cry for free WiFi should not die out just yet. One third of hotels out there are still charging for WiFi, including many luxury brands who charge premium internet fees on top of their pricey room rates. But if the nefarious one third don't start offering free WiFi at a basic level (checking email, surfing the web), potential guests will make a reservation elsewhere.
Even when the WiFi is free, there are still some caveats such as requiring guests to join the hotel's loyalty program, offering it free only in the lobby or having it free for just a limited time (anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours) before a charge is incurred. Furthermore, the WiFi fees can vary wildly from property to property within a hotel brand. These gimmicks are just another reason for guests to join together and demand better standardization for hotel WiFi.
Now, if you are a hotel currently offering excellent free WiFi, congratulations! You have made it to the next round of the games. In this round, which has already begun, guests will come to your hotel armed with multiple devices and expect to use those devices as remote controls for everything. Clearly, the end game in the battle for precious guest dollars is free, reliable and capable WiFi. So, let's see who the top contenders are in here in 2013. Shall we?
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**A HotelChatter Exclusive**
Chances are, you are probably reading our seventh annual WiFi Report right now on your iPad. Or your iPhone. Or your Blackberry, Droid, Kindle or Galaxy Tablet, if anyone actually uses those.
Much like cellphones have practically put land lines out of business, mobile devices are fast changing the way we sign onto the web when we’re on the go. And that includes when we're staying in hotels.
While the hardware we carry into hotel rooms is changing seemingly from one month to the next, our demands free and reliable WiFi have not wavered a bit. And as more and more of us start to travel with cellphones, laptops and tablets, the call for free WiFi is more urgent than ever.
Yet hotels around the world, especially those luxury ones, are still charging daily rates of $10 or more for WiFi. Worse, some are even double-dinging us for our mobile devices.
This leaves guests the choice of navigating the always, ever-changing WiFi fees at mid and high-end hotels, or spending the night at budget places just for the internet.
So you better know the lay of the free hotel WiFi land before you book your room. After all, the one thing we can do as loyal, frequent hotel guests is vote "free WiFi" with our credit cards.
Once again, we’ve broken down the Hotel WiFi landscape into Best Hotels, Worst Hotels and the best and worst from the International Hotel Scene. We’ve also added a couple of new sections; picking out the Best and Worst cities for free hotel WiFi, tips on getting secondary devices on for free when the hotel wants you to pay per device, and where to stay in stylin' and free WiFin', to name a few.
This year marks HotelChatter's sixth annual hotel wifi report. Over the years we've documented the progression of hotel WiFi, from blatant disregard, to price-gouging for WiFi access, and reliable WiFi for loyalty program members, through guests taking matters in to their own hands with wireless lap top cards and 3G access. A year ago, we thought guest demand for free, reliable, hotel WiFi might just go away, thanks to 3G.
Well guess what? The demand for hotel WiFi has not gone away, quite the opposite, a growing number of hotel guests not only demand the hotel they book have proper wireless access but most will consider *not* staying at a hotel that can't meet their basic access needs. That's right, WiFi is a make or break amenity for many hotel guests that can sway booking decisions -- and that isn't going away.
How did this happen? Wasn't the new decade supposed to be all about getting off the hotel's WiFi grid and relying on own wireless 3G cards? It was. But it seems that the cellular networks are woefully unprepared for all the Foursquaring, Twittering, Facebooking, Tumblring and old-school emailing that we need to do. And don't think this is just an early adopter phenomenon.
More and more business travelers need to access their documents in the cloud, family travelers need to stream children's movies for their kids on their devices and laptops, and we probably don't have to mention the fact that the iPad and other popular media consumption devices focus on WiFi connectivity and not 3G.
However, if hotel general managers are licking their chops thinking they can charge guests exorbitant amounts for providing free, fast, reliable WiFi, not so fast. Remember all those side of the road motels that trumpeted "Free HBO?" Well the majority of guests view WiFi the same way--as a must-have amenity, not something they should pay for. This is the conundrum for hoteliers today, how can all this demand for more access translate into a revenue source, without alienating guests?
Today, the hotel landscape is firmly divided into those who follow Best WiFi Practices and those who do not. And while old stalwarts will probably never change their policies (cough, Four Seasons, cough), many up and coming hotel brands realize free, reliable, basic WiFi is an easy way to earn guest happiness and loyalty.
As to how hotels will be able to please their guests, deliver stellar free wifi, and turn their services into a revenue stream, might we suggest hoteliers Google "Freemium".
HotelChatter's WiFi Report 2010
|BEST HOTEL WIFI|
|WORST HOTEL WIFI|
|INTERNATIONAL HOTEL WIFI|
|FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS|
|2010 WIFI CHART|
Annual WiFi Report / Best WiFi Hotels 2009 / Worst WiFi Hotels 2009 / International WiFi Hotels 2009 / → All Tags
Using the complimentary Kimpton Hotel WiFi in the lobby and poolside at the Hotel Palomar Westwood
A HotelChatter Exclusive
When we did our first HotelChatter WiFi Report back in 2004, we focused on the few hotels and hotel chains that were offering free, reliable hotel wireless and those who weren't. Over the next couple of years, more and more hotels began addressing the issue of adding dependable wireless for their guests, both in-room and in-lobby. However, what we are seeing in 2009 is a trend towards the corrosion of the upkeep, reliability and "freeness" of hotel wireless services.
To our dismay, some hotels that boast free WiFi in their guestrooms offer the worst kind of WiFi you can get: the slow kind. Worse yet, just because you've forked over a daily fee for the internet service in your room, doesn't mean you're guaranteed a fail-safe, four-bar connection.
This year, we'll be looking at the hotels and chains that are putting a new spin on free and reliable service as well as those hotels that have fallen off the reliable WiFi wagon. We'll also touch on International hotel WiFi gems and rip-offs. Remember, just because your favorite brand gives it to you for free here at home doesn't mean you'll get it on your next trip abroad.
In short, our message to hoteliers in 2009 is this: don't make us rely on our iPhones, Blackberries, and 3G cards; we still rely on hotel WiFi. Offer us the dependable wireless connections we need for getting on our laptops, checking out online videos, stalking old friends on Facebook, tweeting, buying music and movies for the trip home (or even for the hotel room) and maybe even getting some work done.
These reports were compiled by HotelChatter editors and information gathered came from in-person trips to these hotels and member and reader emails and comments between May 2008 and May 2009.
In our Best WiFi Hotels 2008 report we stuck to large chains and hip boutique hotels but there's actually a whole bunch of other hotels that are offering their guests complimentary WiFi and we thought they deserved a shout-out too.
· The Setai: The Setai is a ritzy South Beach property where rooms can cost up to $1,000 a night in high season. Fortunately, unlike some other luxury hotels, the Setai lets you surf the internet for free in every corner of the hotel including by the pool.
· The James Chicago: The James offers guests complimentary WiFi in all of its 297 guestrooms as well as remote printing through a wireless network.
· AKA Hotels: This upscale extended stay brand offers complimentary WiFi in the rooms.
· The Marco Island Marriott: Now there is a charge for the WiFi here at a cost of $12.95 a day but the wireless signal reaches all the way to the beach. We admit we'd actually pay money for that.
· White Barn Inn: This Maine retreat is small with only 29 rooms but it has complimentary WiFi throughout.
· The Regent Palms Turks & Caicos: Another luxury property that's decided to offer complimentary WiFi for its guests.
· The Curtis: This Denver hotel near the 16th street mall has free WiFi in all of its 336-guest rooms.
· The Stafford: Don't pay for WiFi in London. The Stafford offers it for free.
Know of a hotel with complimentary WiFi in the guestrooms or a network that allows you to surf while you are actually surfing, keep us connected.
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This year we went very in-depth with our Annual WiFi Report so that we could give you a better understanding of the hotel WiFi landscape in 2008.
But even we have to admit that's a lot of reading to do. And if you're in a hotel today paying by the hour or paying by the day or furiously trying to jump onto the free WiFi network outside the hotel's club level, then you probably don't have time to read every last word.
Hence the 2008 Hotel WiFi Chart was born. Here we take the five major U.S. hotel chains--Starwood, Marriott, Hilton, Intercontinental and Hyatt-- and round-up the internet options across all their brands. We're keeping it simple by only listing for you where the internet is free, where you pay and where it's free in the lobby.
Our suggestion for getting free internet at any of these places? Join the hotel loyalty program. If you're a frequent guest at one of these major chains, joining the loyalty program may earn you complimentary internet during your stays although it varies from program to program and property to property. So does begging the front desk to let you have internet for free.
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Baby bro Jaunted has continued its WiFi Week by publishing yesterday some helpful tips on finding wireless when traveling outside the U.S. and typically, you can always get some sort of access in a cafe.
But here we'll be looking at the hotels abroad where HotelChatter editors and contributors found or didn't find WiFi. We've been keeping tabs on the International Hotel WiFi scene all year long and unlike what's happening here at home, the Hotel WiFi trend seems to be improving in other countries.
For instance, we traveled to London and had complimentary WiFi in our hotel near Hyde Park. Also, several small UK-based chains have decided to give up WiFi for free to its guests. Over in Spain, Best Western continues to offer free WiFi and we even found out that there's WiFi in the Hilton in Cairo. Of course, it's at a fee of $7 but still, that's improvement.
Something that totally makes us melt? Radisson SAS hotel in Europe publishing a list of their hotels that offer free WiFi. Life is good again!
Keep reading for more of the Best and Worst International Hotel WiFi Report
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A HotelChatter Exclusive
Yesterday we told you where you can get working WiFi in hotels for free so today we must tell you about the hotels where the WiFi is definitely not free, possibly not working and perhaps is not even WiFi.
Yes, it's time for the Worst WiFi Hotels of 2008. Much like our Best WiFi Hotels list, the Worst rounds up the usual suspects who charge you for internet access as well as calls out a few other hotel brands that manage to fly under our radar in other years.
These hotels also make this list for other reasons beyond billing. Inconsistent WiFi policies across different properties and brands is irksome, meaning you will get charged at one hotel in New York but not at the same brand in Miami. So is offering free WiFi in the lobbies but not in the rooms.
Yet what probably gets our goat the most is that these hotels are charging for WiFi purely for profit. We've even got a letter from a general manager of a Four Seasons hotel who tries to explain why the hotel must charge for internet. Essentially, the reasons why are all about profit except they are just hiding behind the pretense of customer service and network support.
Since we know that other hotels out there can provide complimentary WiFi, these hotels listed below really need to step it up.
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A HotelChatter Exclusive
We kick off the first-ever WiFi Week with the Best WiFi Hotels of 2008. As we mentioned, there hasn't been much movement on the Hotel WiFi scene since last year. So rather than round-up our old standbys for the third time, we wanted to take a broader look at the smaller hotel chains that are offering complimentary WiFi to their guests.
These are hotels that we have personally visited ourselves over the past year and know for a fact that the WiFi is working, free and spectacular. We call these hotels Ready & Willing.
We've also listed a group of hotel chains that we've overlooked in past reports, either because they didn't offer free WiFi at one point or because we weren't sure how well their WiFi worked. But thanks to tips from readers we now know these WiFi truths to be self-evident. We say take a chance on them.
Lastly, we aren't going to let you peruse this list without telling you who has consistently been topping our Best WiFi Hotels list. These are our Tried & True hotels, places we book when free WiFi is a must.
So get in there, start reading and let us know what you think.
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A HotelChatter Exclusive
Our Annual WiFi Report will help you avoid having to use something like this when staying at a hotel.
It is time once again for one of our most popular features, HotelChatter's annual look at hotel brands with the Best and Worst Hotel WiFi offerings.
In 2007, we boldly stated that the hotel WiFi landscaped had reached an impasse. And this year, we are sad to report that again, there hasn't been much movement.
The same complex formula still applies when hotels consider offering internet. We are sure hoteliers and hotel general managers have some elaborate mathematical equation which they use but we'll just simplify it for you here:
If high room rate and/or luxury status, then no free WiFi.
Yes, luxury hotels continue to nickel and dime you for a service that could easily be rolled into your room rate or resort fee while budget hotels like Best Western and Holiday Inn have free working WiFi throughout. And don't even get us started on some hotels that are beyond fashionably late to the wireless party and only offer ethernet connections in rooms.
But don't despair. There is still some good news to share here and we're going to spend the rest of the week educating you about the Hotel WiFi Landscape of 2008.
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Considering that guests are paying top dollar for these luxury rooms (on average $400 a night), you would think free internet would be available. Think again.
Despite the fact that both budget hotels and numerous boutique/design hotel chains (some which command the same rates as a Four Seasons) offer free wireless internet, the Four Seasons brand is unwavering in their policy to nickel and dime guests for surfing the web.
Here a general manager at a Four Seasons hotel tries to explain why the charge is necessary.
There are several differences between Four Seasons and other local hotels who do not charge for internet service. Allow me to cite just a few.
· Four Seasons' hotel IT staffs or designated personnel are the first line of support to assist our guests. These employees will call the appropriate internet service providers on behalf of our guests to resolve their issues. During non-business hours, hotel IT staff can be paged to resolve emergency guest connection issues.
· In hotels where free HSIA is offered, there is no one from the hotel to assist guests with their connection issues. Guest are required to dial a 1-800 number to obtain support where, most often guests are likely to receive poor service from untrained operators. It is "use at your own risk" because the service is free.
· In Four Seasons hotels, guests can request higher bandwidth or setting up a virtual private network for their colleagues who stay in the same hotel. As well, Hotel IT staff will trouble-shoot guests' laptop PC configuration to resolve the connection issue. In hotels who provide free HSIA, no personal services will be offered.
· Four Seasons has established company standard for dedicated multiple guest internet pipes in order to provide effective guest services. We have adopted automatic fail-over multi-homing technology to ensure the ultimate up-time of the guest's internet connection, and we constantly audit and discuss the network management issues with all the service providers.
· In hotels that provide free HSIA, there are no dedicated guest internet pipes. Sometimes, they are even mixed with the hotel administrative internet usages. There is only a single network gateway to the service provider and no automatic fail-over to guarantee the network up-time.