Major hotel chains and independent properties around the world continue to charge guests for using the internet – an irritation for those who consider it as important as free room towels.
Despite his belief that technology should be treated as an extension of the guest experience, Mark Kendall, vice president of the Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals Asia Pacific, is against the idea that hotels should provide free internet access to guests.
â€śThe challenge with broadband is the cost of service. If itâ€™s a three star hotel and it offers unsecured bandwidth, then user beware. But if a CEO is staying in a five star hotel, then he expects some level of security and the level of infrastructure that is required to support these services costs the hotel.â€ť
He says some hotels were considering the wireless.sg model (the free wireless service found in prime locations in Singapore) whereby you get a minimum service â€“ say a bandwidth of 128K â€“ for free and if you want extra, you pay.
â€śBusiness travellers form 75% of the business for hotels in Singapore, and their RFPs with corporates have to include broadband, so thatâ€™s already being added.â€ť
Kendall says people also tend to download more when they travel â€“ be it pornography or illegal downloads.
[NB: See recent moves by Radisson to crack down on illegal web browsing]
More and more though, customers are demanding free internet as a right of travel.
Not Kendall though. He says:
â€śAs a business traveller, I donâ€™t demand it. Most business travellers expense it anyway so they donâ€™t care – Â as long as itâ€™s not coming out of my pocket?â€ť
But what about entrepreneurs and SMEs who may not be able to expense it to someone elseâ€™s pockets â€“ people such as Carl Griffth, a design consultant living in Singapore.
â€śFor me, I expect internet and I expect it to be free.Â Itâ€™s like towels, I use one everyday but I donâ€™t pay for it. So if I donâ€™t pay, will they give me used towels instead?Â Now if I ordered dancing girls â€“ which may not be considered normal service â€“ then yes, I expect to pay for it.â€ť