By Joe Brancatelli
Why do some hotels provide free internet access, while others charge big?
A decade ago we were complaining about the cost of calls from hotel-room phones. Why, we wondered, did cheap hotels give us free calls, but fancy, five-star joints ding us even for toll-free numbers? Who made more sense: The general manager who insisted that telephone calls were an integral part of the nightly rate, or the one who claimed he wouldn’t think of charging a guest for a service he or she didn’t use, so anyone who used a hotel’s telephone system had to pay inflated, à la carte prices?
Mobile phones mooted that debate, and no business traveler even thinks about using a guest-room telephone today. But the deep, philosophical disagreements are back—over the price hotels may or may not charge to access high-speed internet and Wi-Fi service.
Business travelers expect select-service properties (that’s politically correct, 21st-century lodging jargon for “cheap hotels”) to offer free wired and/or wireless internet access. And free access is standard at places like Courtyard by Marriott, Hampton Inn, and Four Points by Sheraton.