Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Wi-Fi Entitlement

I see that hotels have been given a serve for "charging exorbitant rates for Wi-Fi".

Rightly or wrongly, the consumer seems to have an embedded entitlement to FREE Wi-Fi access as the internet becomes an engrained habit into our day-to-day lives. I've had folk standing at my reception with a crazed look in their eye and the very first utterance has been: "have you got Wi-Fi". If this request can be adequately satisfied, the conversation about the room type and tariff can often become of passing importance. Up until recently the customer has been focused on Spa Baths and Sky TV - now it's all about Wi-Fi.

The motel industry is probably doing a reasonable job of delivering their guests Wi-Fi. A hard core of motels offer some element of "free" Wi-Fi and this is usually capped with a daily limit. More often than not, Wi-Fi with a higher (or unrestricted) cap is charged for, however motels generally don't charge to the extent of their hotel cousins.

Contrary to popular belief, if an accommodation provider wants to maintain a professional, robust & secure Wi-Fi system for public use - this is expensive! An accommodation provider, buying a router from a local Dick Smith and getting a family member to hook it up doesn't cut it any more.

The hardware should be able to handle modern protocols and have quality coverage to all wireless device types including the proliferation of handheld devices. As a basic guideline, if an accommodation provider installed a Wi-Fi system several years ago, this should be ripped out and new modern gear installed.

The software should monitor and identify usage, have up-to-the-minute security protocols and offer an intuitive interface for easy public use. And with the average consumer's internet downloads doubling every year, the accommodation provider should have plenty of data on tap from their friendly internet provider and nerves of steel to cope with continually escalating monthly internet bills.

Another consideration for the accommodation provider is that they are now required to take on the responsibility for their customers use. If you're a small business and a customer users your Wi-Fi, you're liable for everyone using your internet connection. Under the SkyNet law that came into effect on September last year, the accomodation provider can get three warnings if their guests illegally download files. After that you can be taken to the Copyright Tribunal where offenders face a maximum fine of $15,000. Nice! Another good reason to check out (and pay for) specialist commercial Wi-Fi management software available.

While for some accommodation providers, Wi-Fi may be a modest profit centre, it's inevitable that Wi-Fi will quickly become yet another cost, due to public expectation. For some reason, user pays doesn't seem to apply to Wi-Fi - "Somebody else pays" rules!

That's all OK as long as tariff can be bumped up to cover the expense....with New Zealand accommodation continuing to offer some of the cheapest tariffs on the planet, that probably isn't going to happen anytime soon....

Click the "Get Widget" link below to place this widget on your website or blog!