To Charge or Not to Charge: The Hotel WiFi Debate

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Budget Travelers rejoice! Accor hotels, a major international chain, has just eliminated fees for WiFi at 500 of their hotels, The Telegraph reported last week.

That's certainly refreshing news considering that some of the largest hotel chains in the U.S. have been contemplating charging more for Internet lately. According to USA Today, hotels that currently offer WiFi for free—including Wyndham and Ramada—are toying with the idea of giving guests the chance to upgrade to higher bandwidth internet for a fee (lower bandwidth service will still be available for free). Marriott International Hotels already offers a tiered connection service.

The hotels claim that more customers are using data, which is driving up their prices—hence the need to pass on the charge.

Still, it's always struck me as odd that the more you pay for a hotel room, the more likely you are to be charged for WiFi. W Hotels, for example, has rates that start at $499 per night* and charges $14.95 a day for Internet—and that's not even per room—that's per device! Four Points by Sheraton, on the other hand, has rooms starting at $339 per night* and gives away its internet for free. Interestingly, both of these brands are owned by the same parent company—Starwood.

It makes me wonder if the theory is that guests who are willing to pay more for a room are willing to pay more for everything.

Before I book a hotel, I always ask if Internet is included and if it's not, it makes me think twice about staying there. I'll bite the bullet if I'm getting a great deal on the nightly rate or it's a hotel I've been crushing on for a while (yes, I do harbor hotel crushes).

What about you? Do you think about Internet charges before you book a hotel? And, more importantly, would you be willing pay more for a faster Internet connection when you're traveling for fun?

In the meantime, a nod to the chains that still offer complimentary WiFi: La Quinta Inns, Four Points by Sheraton, Peninsula Hotels, and now, of course, Accor.

*Prices are based on a weekend in October in a midtown Manhattan property for both brands.


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