I’m annoyed when hotels charge high fees for WiFi in conference meeting rooms. I’m not talking about guest room or lobby access, I’m referring to a strong WiFi signal during meetings so that attendees can research and multitask during sessions.
I have a sense that things are changing quickly in this area. I hope the current system of sometimes making groups pay for meeting room WiFi access is on the way out. I wonder what it was like in the early days of tap water. Did the hotels charge extra? WiFi is so essential for traveling professionals that I think it is silly to charge groups extra for it.
It’s considered a requirement now in the dozens of meeting contracts that Verto Solutions negotiates for our client associations every year. Times have changed; most meeting attendees now bring laptops or tablets to meetings and they need WiFi access.
I had the chance to discuss this issue with representatives of two major hotel chains recently. I asked them about the state of complimentary WiFi under hotel meeting contracts. My friend who’s a senior facilities and infrastructure executive with one of the large chains surprised me when he said the current system isn’t just about revenue, it’s also about capacity. He said most hotels are racing to upgrade their bandwidth and that the current systems in most hotels would be overwhelmed if meeting WiFi access was free. In other words, the current system of making groups pay has the effect of reducing the number of people using the system.
For a better explanation of the technical side of this issue, (“bonded T1 vs. 10 meg symmetrical pipe”) see Andy Abramson’s post at MuniWireless.com.
Both of my hotel friends said that WiFi in meeting rooms included in the contract without additional charges is only a matter of time. But for now, and until the infrastructure is upgraded, we need to continue to negotiate the best deal that we can. This is another example of The Association Management Advantage, because association management companies negotiate so many hotel contracts we have the knowledge, experience and leverage to get the best deal possible for your association.