Monday, May 17, 2010

24 Hour Internet - $27.50!

~ Excuse me while I vent my spleen! I’ve just been reading a review of the Oaks Plaza Pier Hotel (15, Holdfast Promenade, Glenelg, Phone: 8350 6688), in my local Adelaide weekend paper, The Advertiser (May 8, 2010).

Dianne Mattsson, the reviewer, gives the hotel an overall rating of four stars, and for all I know it deserves everyone of them. However, the thing that has got my blood boiling is the list of ‘facilities’ she mentions – one of which includes 24 hour Internet access for AU$27.50* per day.

Twenty-seven fifty!

You can park your car with them for $16.00 a day, but if you want Internet access you have to pay $27.50 per day!

Are they mad?

Almost every budget chain hotel/motel in America provides free WiFi Internet access as a matter of policy, and here in Australia we have some dinky little hotel charging $27.50 a day. Do they think people are going to spend their whole stay locked in their rooms surfing the Internet? Are they afraid that the few cents it costs them to provide Internet access for each room is going to send them broke? Can’t they see, providing free Internet could set them apart from their opposition and give them the edge they need to attract more guests?

Heck if it really is that expensive to provide ‘free’ WiFi to each room, why not add a few dollars per day to each room rate, and recoup their investment that way. Some guests will use the service a lot; others will use it a little; and still others not at all.

In an age when WiFi enabled computers and mobile phones are ubiquitous, it makes no sense to charge your guests an extra $27.50 a day to keep in touch with family, friends, or the boss. Especially, when more and more local cafés are providing free WiFi to attract customers through their doors.

Mind you, the Oaks Plaza Pier Hotel is not alone in slugging travellers huge fees for Internet access. In Australia this appears to be the ‘rule’ rather than the exception. So in their defence, the hotel might argue they are just following the industry norm. To which I would say, So what? How about thinking outside the square? More importantly, how about joining the rest of us in the 21st Century, and providing what should be an essential service to your guests – just like the ‘free’ linen service, television, and other standard room facilities every traveller now takes for granted.

For my part, I will never pay extra for Internet access, when I can choose a hotel that provides the service as part of their standard booking. The more travellers refuse to pay extra (and explain why they choose not to stay at hotels that do charge extra fees), the sooner these hotels will begin to include free WiFi or broadband access as part of their standard service.

* While the Oaks Plaza Pier Hotel does give you the option to pay $10 for two hours of Internet access, in my opinion this is even more a waste of money, and a further insult to their guests.

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