Wed, 7 Mar, 2018
Why are hotels still charging for Wi-Fi?
"Hi, how are you going? Beautiful day here isn't it? What's the wifi password here?" is an accurate, if sad, greeting that has become second-nature to the traveller.
I'll have barely dumped my bags bedside at the Airbnb apartment before I'm scoping out the kitchen for the hosts list of house rules always signed off with the accommodation's username and password for the internet.
Nothing sees an Airbnb host's review rating sink like a shoddy connection of a wifi blackspot. And yes, I'm guilty of upping and leaving a cafe if the wifi password isn't forthcoming.
But please, save your tut-tutting about "living in the moment" (I do, I just want it to be the best moment, with the most 5 star reviews on Time Out and Tripadvisor).
If I were to go "off the grid" and ditch the devices, I'm but a drop in the ocean of migrating travellers traversing the globe with one eye on their smartphones.
Instead, and rightly so, the travel market and businesses have skewed their offerings toward the connected travel experience. All backpackers know they must have a top-notch wi-fi coverage to match their top notch bar crawls. Any airport worth its salt offers you some megabytes to sort out how to trek into town or brag about your visit to the airline lounge. So it more than a bit grating that certain hotel chains still think they can get away with charging for wi-fi.
At a daily rate. For pitiful data allowances. The Super-King beds with 1000 thread count sheets, poolside bars and posh pampering products build an image of a grandeur that can't help but be cheapened by a charge for what's become a modern day necessity.
The Hilton trying to charge £13 per day (per day!) was ridiculous. What will I be pinged for next: Television access and hot water?
I know that the internet was the death-knell for the long-time money-spinner for motels and hotels – the pay-per-view movie.
As audiences switch from Sky Movies to Netflix, the hotel chains wish to keep clipping the ticket, by placing internet access into the revenue-generating column as pay-per-view films once were. They were a real money spinner – just ask Shane Jones.
The point is now, two decades on from the internet's arrival it should be a given that these charges won't be sorted out with a quick swipe of the company credit card. You're now more likely to find guests jumping on the wi-fi to post a poolside pic to Snapchat or find a secret nightspot on Tripadvisor than to upload documents to a company website or make a conference call.
So it makes smart business sense to have young, plugged-in guests able to document their stay in your property and the majority of smart hotel managers have relegated high internet access charges to history. The rest now need to follow.
And I get it, it's never going to be "free wi-fi", it's simply another cost to be incorporated into your standard room rate along with other necessities like electricity, running water and fluffy white robes.
But to ping us for each Facebook post or Google Map navigation is no way to court loyalty in the Instagram generation and converts us to Airbnb at a rate that could rival even the fastest hotel internet speeds.
Written by Josh Martin. First appeared on Stuff.co.nz.