For those of us who frequently travel and get to stay in the nicer hotels or do presentations for groups and/or gatherings and they put us up in Marriott, Hilton or Hyatt properties, we have an "issue". And, so do the hotel chains.
I'm presenting a series of presentations to the NTPDA here in Panama City Beach, FL and staying at the Bay Point Marriott. (That's a shot of the lobby.) The charge to use the Internet, in my room, is $9.95 a day. In the lecture hall the charge to hook up to the Internet for my presentation on Blogging and Being Found was $175. No I'm not paying the tab...my client is. But, still...I've had enough and decided to go to management and ask, "Why?".
Jeff Segan, the General Manager, was out Friday afternoon but I did get to talk with his Executive Assistant, Judy. (Great person from Ann Arbor, MI who's mom still lives in a private home surrounded by the U of M campus...can you imagine the value of that house?) I, with what I think was great tact, expressed my frustration about the charges and said, "You know, what I don't get is that if I stayed at Super 8 my high speed Internet connection would be...free." Karen, wrote down my "issue" and called the Chief Information Officer, Glenn Bollhalter to come and explain to both of us the reason why the Marriott (and finer hotel chains) feel they can charge when economy hotels give Internet connections away for free.
She then said, "You know, this is becoming more and more a major issue and it seems like we hear about it all the time. In fact, it's one of the things that gets brought up, regularly, in our staff meetings."
Long story...short. The hotel reversed the charges (for me) and Glenn did a nice job in explaining cables and WiFi and also said somebody at corporate needs to figure this out. Figure it out? No....
It is quickly becoming a major public relations nightmare for hotels who charge for this service...mostly because they figure they can...and simply fail to react to the consumer market. Taking nickles and dimes out of our pocket for this and the privilege of using "Business Centers". (Don't get me started about the Crown Center Hyatt in Kansas City or the Hilton in Omaha where you have to swipe credit cards to make a copy or use a computer....GRRRRRRRRRRR!)
Business Travelers Unite! But more importantly, the finer hotel chains need to understand what a customer service problem this is and simply fix it. For those of you in the business of booking conventions for your members. Want to be a HERO? Negotiate with the property in advance and if they "usually" charge for this service have the hotel waive it for your room block. You'll usually carry more weight than us little ol' "Business Travelers". Am I being unreasonable?