Hyatt, Starwood and Marriott all began offering free Wi-Fi this year—but there are still several holdouts.
It’s been the year of sort-of-free hotel Wi-Fi. Earlier this year the premium brands of Mariott and Starwood Hotels began offering free connections to guests—if they had a loyalty membership and booked direct. Hyatt tossed in Internet for all guests with no extra requirements.
“We can’t continue to differentiate and innovate our guest experiences when we’re charging some guests for the technology that powers future improvements,” wrote Kristine Rose, Hyatt’s vice president of brands, in a blog post last December.
It’s the continued industry thrashing over whether to help guests get on the Internet without helping themselves to additional fees.
Edward Malinowski, CIO of Shangri-La International Hotel Management, knows Wi-Fi. He’s had to pay for plenty of bad hotel connections in his travels away from the company’s properties.
“I pop open my laptop and try to synchronize my email and it takes five minutes,” Malinowski told Fortune. “When I pay for it, I expect a high degree of service.”
While hotel companies like Shangri-La offer free high-quality Internet access, some premium chains only drop the connection charge under special conditions. When room rates start at $300 or more a night, asking another $15 or $20 to go online can seem … grasping.
“I thought by 2015 there would be no hotels charging extra for Wi-Fi,” Rudy Maxa, consumer travel expert and host of the public television series Rudy Maxa’s World, told Fortune. “Every poll I’ve seen about what bothers hotel guests most is paying for Wi-Fi.”
Who is still charging—and how much? Head over to Fortune.com for a rundown.
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