As a regular business/leisure traveller and web addict, wifi access is very important to me. And this is one of the great things about living in Vietnam – virtually every café, bar and restaurant has free wifi, meaning I’m never far away from a connection. Sadly, the same cannot be said of hotels, at least not all of them.
I spent a couple of days last month escorting our new German sales rep on hotel visits, and one of the questions we asked in each hotel was “Do you have free internet?” In budget hotels (3* and below) the answer was always “yes”. In luxury hotels (4*/5*) the answer was invariably “no”, with one notable exception (Caravelle, take a bow!).
What this basically means is the more I pay for a hotel room, the less likely I am to have free internet, and if I stay at a 5* hotel I’m expected to fork out $25 per day for wifi on top of the $100+ I’m paying for my room. Does that make sense to you? Because it doesn’t make any sense to me. 5* hotels cater mainly for business travellers for whom internet and email are essential business tools, whereas budget hotels cater more for tourists who, whilst they will almost certainly use internet at some point during their stay, are equally happy to head out of the hotel and use an internet café.
The stupidity of the situation was highlighted when in one luxury hotel, which even charges for internet use in its lobby, I was able to connect to half a dozen free wifi connections provided by neighbouring cafes where, for the price of a drink, I can sit and use free wifi for as long as I want.
The irony is that 5* hotels throw all kinds of free stuff at their guests, much of it stuff that I virtually never use - bathrobe, TV, kettle, complimentary comb, body lotion etc. Obviously these are all tangible items that create a sense of luxury, whereas wifi is invisible, but I would willingly give up my bathrobe, free comb and even my TV for a free internet connection.
So come on hoteliers, it’s 2014, and to many travellers, an internet connection is as essential as hot water, pillows and a decent breakfast – stop charging us for something we can get for free everywhere else!