Sunday, March 8, 2009

FREE Internet

The letter below appeared in The Dominion Post a few days ago and vents an American tourist's frustration on the lack of accessibility of broadband on their NZ travels.

Letter to the Editor
The Dominion Post
Why this tourist might stay home

I'm an American tourist and businesswoman, who likes to get out of the freezing cold between January and April. Usually, my husband and I travel to Florida but, this year, decided to come to Australia and New Zealand.

We've thoroughly enjoyed our travels. But we need broadband.

Because of the computer age, we can leave our businesses in our employees' hands, yet keep on top of things from almost anywhere.

But this requires daily wireless internet access.

Checking email from here isn't bad. But linking up to our office network is slow and prone to sudden disconnection. This is especially disconcerting when you're in the middle of a payroll or
banking transaction.

It's fair to say that our experience here has caused us to decide we're better off confining our
travels to the United States, where we can work even while driving around in a car using a "mobile air card''.

New Zealand's tourist industry needs to understand that today's tourists wants unlimited private
wireless internet. In America, most hotels and motels understand this is something that must be included - like a bathroom.

Skaneateles, New York State [abridged]

Source: Click HERE
The first reaction of anyone in the accommodation industry after reading this letter would be to suggest that: "the compulsive letter writer should get a life!" However it is important to understand the needs and perceptions of our visitors that are increasingly demanding a positive internet experience when staying in commercial accommodation. This includes our domestic market.

From our own travels to the States, there appears to be a few differences in internet services offered to tourists. We found that there were few "internet cafes" and if you didn't have a laptop, any wired terminal service in public areas such as hotel lobbies, malls etc was expensive. However the upshot was that if you had your own laptop, most motels and hotels had a "free" wireless connection available.

From our experience, the offer of free internet didn't necessarily always satisfy. The quality, speed and security of the connection left a lot to be desired in many instances. You often got what you paid for!

Meanwhile, motels in New Zealand have been quick to adapt in offering wireless broadband to their guests. In our humble opinion the Voila network of properties that offer a wireless broadband solution can provide the traveling public a quality internet experience. There are some other solutions available and in real life conditions, an overseas guest will find this more than comparable with their internet experience "back home."

It is difficult to counter the culture adopted by overseas guests (particularly Americans) that wireless internet should be free at commercial accommodation. As long as accommodation providers offer a quality wireless network with highest upload/download speeds and levels of security available then we think there should be a charge.

Accommodation properties that offer a package that includes accommodation and unlimited wireless broadband could counter any price resistance.

It has to be pointed out that the NZ accommodation industry offers the best value in a world market for the quality and amenities provided - even with a charge for broadband added to the tariff!

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