March 19, 2007

Hotel and Airport Internet Access a Must

I've ranted and raved here before on the number of times I've checked into a supposedly swank hotel, only to find the hoops I need to jump through in order to get a quality Internet experience can negatively impact the whole trip. For some reason, it seems that the more I pay per night in a hotel, the more I end up paying per day, and the less I pay per day for the hotel stay, the more likely it is that my access will be both fast and free. Being budget minded doesn't mean I have to give up something I believe to be a requirement.

In this weekend's trip to Phoenix, we stayed at the Doubletree Guest Suites, and had great wireless Internet access. I could turn on the laptop and get high speed Internet anywhere in our suite. But it wasn't perfect. Not only did I have to pay $9.99 a day for the privilege, but I had to call the front desk every day to turn on my access, as the password changed every day at noon. This made us have a daily ritual where I called the front desk around 12:02 p.m. to get the new day's codes, only to call back 24 hours later. Even the front desk said they were annoyed by the policy, but there was nothing they could do.

It could have been worse, for sure. In the last few years I've gone to hotels that didn't feature any kind of Internet in their rooms, but only in the lobby, I've gone to hotels that promised high speed wireless, but I could only get a fraction of the signal if I placed the desk chair and laptop in the closet or huddled next to the door, and I've found others that required me to run Microsoft Windows. I've paid anywhere from $4.95 a day to $19.95 a night, regardless of how much activity I had online.

I see the hotel Internet access issue as being graded:

A: Free high-speed wireless access in hotel rooms and the lobby
B: High-speed wireless access in hotel rooms and the lobby for a fee
C: High-speed access in hotel rooms via in-room Internet cable
D: High-speed access in the lobby or business center
F: Anything less than high-speed access

This issue is even worse when it comes to airports. For some reason, the Silicon Valley's major airport hubs, in San Jose and San Francisco, demand you pay ten bucks or so through T-Mobile for the privilege of synching up before the flight, whether you are just catching up on e-mail before boarding, or find yourself stranded for a day changing from airline to airline. Oddly enough, other airports, in Las Vegas and Phoenix (where I am now) don't ask for diddly squat - only that you agree not to do anything nefarious on their network. Given their courtesy, I promise to be good at least for an hour or so.

To ensure highest productivity, I need to have immediate access to Internet on all my travels. Those vendors which solve the access issue will get my business. Those that don't will find themselves passed by as the more technology-oriented of travelers choose alternatives.

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