Wi-fi – the lifeblood of the traveling professional – is often taken for granted in public locations and very often is accessible for free. Such access is de rigeur in hotels, where travelers meet for conferences, seminars and all sorts of other business purposes.
Apparently there is a strange inverse relationship between the amount you spend on a hotel room and availability of free in-room wi-fi. I personally had not noted this relationship but Michelle Highins at the New York Times Travel section has. In her article,The Price of Staying Connected Higgins reports the prevalent practice of high-end hotels charging from 9.95 to 19.95 per day for in-room access, while more moderate or budget hotels in the same line may include it free of charge.
How does this make sense? The article explains that absorption of the charge by the hotel is more likely in franchised properties, where the local owner is able to make the decision to put the service in place and absorb the charge and is not constrained by policies implemented at corporate properties. And budget hotels are taking full advantage of the marketing opportunity at a time when expense budgets are shrinking and there is greater scrutiny directed at costs.
I have no problem swapping the turn down service for free in-room wi-fi. If you are like me, check out HotelChatter.com for info on which hotels are charging and how reliable their service is.