Expensive Hotels Suck at Providing Free Internet

    September 16, 2011

If you’re one of the millions of people who have to travel in order to conduct your career, you already know about the weird mix of expensive hotel chains that charge for right to access the Internet via their connection.

In fact, according to a study reported on by CNN, if you want cheap and/or free Internet while staying at a hotel, you would be wise to avoid the five star offerings, and stay at cheaper hotel instead. According to the report, most of the higher end hotels charge customers a premium for Internet access, which, after paying in excess of $500 a night to stay, is pretty ridiculous. It becomes even more silly when you realize the cheaper hotels don’t go that route, instead preferring to “comp” Internet access for their customers.

From the findings:

Three-quarters of luxury and “upper upscale” hotel chains — segments that include brands such as Four Seasons, Hilton and Marriott — charge for in-room Internet access, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association 2010 Lodging Survey conducted by STR Global.

In comparison, just 2% of full-service midrange hotel chains — a segment that includes brands such as Holiday Inn — ask you to pay a fee for surfing the Web in your room, the survey found.

Clearly, the lesson here is avoid the big time hotels if you’re a business traveler who needs to connect to the Internet while in your hotel room. This becomes even more obvious when the reason why these expensive hotels charge a premium for Internet access–because they can.

Granted, the sheets and pillows at the four seasons are better than they are at the Holiday Inn, but is luxury the motivating factor when deciding on a hotel or is affordability? Obviously, if you’re paying for $500 a night, you can probably afford to pay for Internet access, but the question is, why would you? Especially when less expensive hotels don’t gouge customers in such a manner?

As with most things related to supply and demand, as long as these customers willingly pay for their Internet access, these expensive hotels will continue to charge for it. If business travelers began eschewing the more expensive hotels that charge for cheaper places that don’t, it’s easy to see these charges either reducing or disappearing altogether.

The question is, are these kinds of travelers willing to swallow their pride and stay in cheaper hotel that has free Internet access or is the allure of the local Four Seasons just that hard to overcome?