I just finished a stay in Chicago at one of the “premium” brands of one of the top two hotel chains.
The hotel charged $14.95 per day for Internet access plus $2.17 in taxes. Other than Internet access, the only other benefit of paying this fee was free local phone calls – with most travelers using their cell phones, this seems of marginal value. Let’s put this in perspective – in most large cities, you can get monthly residential high-speed Internet access for double or at most triple this price! Charging for Internet access made economic sense a decade or two ago when it was not ubiquitous however now, it is equivalent to charging for the use of the TV.
What makes this interesting is that these same hotel chains provide free Internet access at their “economy” brands. As a frequent traveler, the level of service and amenities I benefited from at the premium brand were equivalent to what I would have enjoyed at a discount brand.
Businesses usually fleece customers who purchase bare bones services, but are quick to pamper those that are willing to pay more for premium service.
The airlines are perfect examples of this – fly economy class and you will pay for headphones, drinks and checked in luggage. Fly business class and the same add on’s are included in the cost of your ticket. In addition, achieving a status threshold with most airline loyalty programs usually results in fees being waived for check in luggage, access to lounges and similar add on’s.
The major hotel chains need to follow the lead of the airlines – eliminate fees for Internet access at their premium brands or at minimum drop them for customers that have achieved a minimal (e.g. Silver) status level within their loyalty programs.