Hotels Are Following the Airlines’ Bad Example.

It’s really quite an amazing phenomenon: the travel industry continues to find ways to extract more revenue from their customers in unfair and outrageous ways. For instance, whacking you with the infamous “resort fee” that supposedly covers the cost of the gym and the sauna or whatever they choose to lump into that, even though you have no interest in those facilities.
Bruce Becker is a fellow member of the NARP Board of Directors and has been in what they call the “hospitality industry” for many years. His official responsibilities include negotiating with the hotels where we all stay for our twice-a-year meetings. One of the details Bruce insists on: if the hotel wants our business, there will be no charge to NARP members for internet connection.
That’s a hot button issue for me. When I travel, I spend a lot of time on the internet: writing and posting for this blog, emailing, checking Hawaii news on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s web site, and—most important—watching the Red Sox games on line via the MLB web site. The point is, I need on line access when I travel… and I really hate it when I discover it’s going to cost me an additional $12.95 a night.
Most travelers feel the same way and—it’s called “finding a need and filling it—you can now purchase a personal wi-fi device that will connect you directly to the internet, by-passing the hotel’s system.
Ah, but the Marriott people took a dim view of that and soon developed their own device which, in effect, jammed our devices, thus forcing us to resume paying for their internet connection. The rationale, which Marriott delivered with a straight-face: they were concerned that these private wifi devices could possibly intercept emails and data their other guests were receiving.
Uh … yeah … right.
The FCC was unimpressed, however, and has fined Marriott $600,000 for blocking cellular data plans which their guests had paid for.
Marriott now says it will no longer attempt to block wifi devices of their guests, but we cannot but wonder what may be coming next. Perhaps a mandatory “Dining-In” fee of $150 a night as an incentive for guests to patronize the hotel’s restaurants?