My thoughts exactly. The business case for paid broadband/wifi requires rethinking. Rather than charging the guest, transition to an advertising supported service where local business services and merchants including restaurants, nightclubs, sightseeing attractions, movies and entertainment pay to be on the hotel portal/landing page.
At present, Marriott Concierge, the Front Desk or the Lobby is where one would go to pick up maps, brochures and marketing collateral. It's not very 'green'. All of that information could be in PDF files, managed centrally and printed on demand. Better yet - send it to my Blackberry.
This is really a disappointing problem, both domestically and internationally. It would help if you could work or stay in touch with your family at expensive properties free, like you can at other much cheaper hotels.
It is no fun having to "Buy" time on something that you can get free from the competitive hotel "Free", nest door.
Broadband/Wifi is now ubiquitous that it's possible to find a hot spot and access the Internet FREE from a number of places, even in Marriott guest rooms that charge for the service. It's quite amazing as problems are rarely encountered.
On Florida's Suncoast, the Renaissance Vinoy in St. Petersburg charges $14.95 per 24 hour period for Wifi access. But there were not less than 5 wireless networks to choose from for Free.
At the Residence Inn Treasure Island, it's $9.95 per 24 hour period, yet 3 wireless networks were available for Free.
Broadband/Wifi is now part of the communications and information infrastructure. Imposing an access fee is like charging a guest for hot water.
Thanks for pointing out that RIs should provide free Internet access. I wasnt going to make it an issue for $9.95 on a perfect vacation experience - especially since there were 3 free networks available to choose from.
Identity Theft is a threat on both free (unencrypted) and paid (encrypted) wired or wireless networks. To minimize this threat, the individual PC device accessing a network must be protected with a Firewall to prevent unwanted intrusion. The other aspect is user behavior which is typically covered under the Terms & Conditions the user Accepts (or Not) upon accessing the paid or free network. Certain behaviors and conditions will make hacking a vulnerable PC with the intent to breach easy.
To your point, however, MarriottRewards.com is secured (https) versus MarriottRewardsInsiders (http). It doesn't matter if one accesses either of these websites from a free or paid network, what does matter is the reliability of the Firewall setup to prevent intrusion.
Hope this helps.
"But it costs alot of money to have that service at hotels, much more than you might think."
Thanks for the commentary. Your statement begs the question, "How much does Broadband/Wifi implementation cost?" As a baseline, I turned to the Marriott Vacation Club brand. Throughout the US, free Broadband/Wifi access is the MVCI brand standard.
In order to implement free Wifi, the cost is minimal. Since owners purchase Marriott timeshare in increments of a week, the total cost for Wifi for a week appears as a line item, High Speed Internet on the Maintenance Fee (MF) budget. Here are some examples:
With the average cost to implement and maintain FREE Broadband/Wifi hovering around $3/WEEK for 1, 2 and 3 bedroom villas, help us figure out how Marriott comes up with $12 to $16 per 24 HOURS for Wifi in a standard room in a full service hotel?
In the timeshare model, MF are paid annually in January so there may be a significant discount passed on to timeshare owners. But, forking over $84 to $112 plus tax for a week of WiFi services at a Category 6 hotel makes the commercial side of the business highly suspect when setting standards for loyal business travellers as well as obtaining value from volume contracts with Broadband vendors. As a vendor, how do you account for such a huge difference?
"I think it is interesting that Hyatt is now offering elite members free internet, and the new Starwood Aloft Hotel chain offers complimentary internet as well as free beverages and snacks in rooms. I hope Marriott is paying attention."
As a multiple week owner of MVCI resorts, I'm certain you've seen the Maintenance Fee statements which itemize the weekly cost of High Speed Internet. As owners, we pay upfront to enjoy free broadband service and have that expectation at every resort in the system. Now that many MVCI resorts are classified as Category 6*, I thought it worthwhile to look at the baseline for broadband/Wifi and compare costs to the commercial side.
In my post to akashawnthomas, the baseline cost to provide Free Broadband/Wifi averages around $3 plus or minus per week per villa irrespective of number of bedrooms. Although I did a rough sampling, I found it interesting that the lowest cost per week is the Custom House in Boston at less than $2 per week!
Marriott Vacation Club has been offering Free Wifi since 2006. There is no need for Marriott to look at Hyatt or Starwood IMHO, free Broadband/Wifi is just another area where Marriott can tighten up Brand Integration.
Marriott's Wentworth by the Sea is a Category 6 Resort & Spa. Unlike other Category 6 hotels, Wentworth provides FREE Broadband internet access. No joking here. According to the front desk, every room/suite has a desk and is equipped with a standard RJ45 ethernet cable. They'll even bring you a new cable if it's missing or broken. Plug-in, open a browser and login via a branded portal.
Here's a few examples of the user interface. The co-branding with the vendor Guestek is among the best I've seen. Featured free Web sites from Guestek's interface include several airlines. Featured sponsors on the Marriott portal include USAToday and Visa. My hunch is that the cost may be partially offset by the sponsored advertising. Would a free model subsidized by online advertising be acceptable or objectionable to you?
I agree! I can also connect my laptop to my phone and I travel with a verizon aircard because it annoys me that Marriott charge for internet. See http://tinyurl.com/nzp99x In the same way as airlines are annoying customers for charging for extras, the hotel industry is. Airlines new revenue sources alienate their custom...
One week of travel pays for the air card.
Even though I have this Verizon card, I do find it easy and convenient to sit down at a computer in the lounge. Much easier and faster than lugging my Notebook around and connecting all the bits.
I wish that I could rely on having a PC workstation in the Concierge lounges. Not all Marriott or Renaissance hotels have them but the less expensive CourtYard, SpringHill and Fairfields do.
Well, I could tell you about the time I travelled with my wife. She had her computer and I had mine. They wanted GBP 15 per day for my wireless internet access, and GBP 15 per day for hers too. That would have been GBP30 per day just for internet. There was no hardwire in the rooms and couldn't get around it with a router.
Bottom line is I lost about 10 nights of Marriott rewards points and they lost 10 nights of room revenue plus meals. A lose-lose situation.
"Out-of-step" sums up the situation extremely well.
With very minor exception, it's very clear that there is a consensus of mainline road warriors loyal to Marriott that concur on the need for FREE broadband/wifi.
What's NOT clear is the business solution.
One of the ways that Marriott can implement free broadband is to embed that service into a rate so that rates go up. Another is to offer it for paid or points. Another way is to offset the cost by implementing online advertising, portal sponsorships, travel partner weblinks, content (news) partnerships, Skymall merchandising and so on.
Would the inclusion of online ads be objectionable? Besides 'FREE' what else would you like to see? What do you NOT want to see?
I recently checked-out of the Saddle Brook Marriott in northern New Jersey. Wired or Wi/fi Marriott charges $12.95/day. Here's the portal/login page:
In earlier posts, there are screenshots of the interface at other Marriott properties. What is so amazing is the LACK of consistency for a company that invests an incredible amount in brand marketing. Not only is the look and feel inconsistent, the Terms and Conditions vary! I also question the use of 3rd party URL's where security and privacy are not under the umbrella of a brand standard. The only aspect of Marriott's broadband delivery that is consistent - is the price. That's NOT good enough and fails my expectations every time.
At the Saddle Brook and most every Marriott property is the option to connect to a Public wifi for Free. Once my PC is trained to detect the public offering, there's no problem whatsoever 99.99% of the time.
You're right about it being $30 in Europe. We checked into the Amsterdam Marriott, it was 20 Euros I believe...and it was IBahn.
My issue on the original post was not so much their fee, but wanting double for two computers.
Anyway, the Amsterdam connection was so slow that I couldn't even surf a web page. I asked for (and got) a refund the next morning. The clerk said something about it just "being new"..and I'm thinking that Ibahn should know how to install it by now. Good thing we were only staying there one night.
Kudos to Marriott corporate for the free broadband, portal interface, meaningful content and corporate branding at Courtyard by Marriott Boston Woburn. This Marriott property is corporate owned and it is evident and effective in the portal interface that sits on top of the iBahn broadband platform.
I really like the portal interface because it is well-organized with content relevant to the location including dining, transportation, sightseeing and more. There is a link that takes you directly to your Marriott Rewards account and upcoming reservations. Not all of the functionality is working yet or may not be populated into the backend system, but the basic portal framework is there and quite successful.
What's not in the portal interface is a link to Marriott Rewards Insiders! Let's hope Marriott will make it easier for guests to visit and participate in Insiders.
Which Residence Inn are you referring to? Please elaborate what you mean by 'scaled-back' free access, do you mean slow or unreliable (dropping connection) or both or something else?
I have upcoming stays at Residence Inns. Your post suggests not taking comp internet access for granted at RI, so now I have to call, double-check the policy and possibly rebook elsewhere.
Thanks for the heads-up.