Coughing up a chunk of cash for 30 minutes and a 63-byte download limit is no one's idea of a fair deal, unless you're the operator of a hotel offering such an irresistible package. That said, change may be on the way... if Tourism Australia gets its way. The body is reportedly urging the industry to not only dump the price tag, but the wires as well.
A story in the Sydney Morning Herald reports that Tourism Australia is attempting to convince "thousands of Australian hotels to provide free wi-fi and end exorbitant in-room internet bills". It goes on to mention that it's trying to get telcos to back the initiative... as well as alleging that Tourism Australia may have an ulterior motive in mind, in the form of an "explosion of social media marketing".
Though that's not the tune the organisation is singing, going by comments from general manager of consumer marketing, Nick Baker. From the SMH:
"Holidays are all about living in the moment," he said. "How often have we promised ourselves that we'll post a great holiday moment on Facebook, tweet out a photo or a review on TripAdvisor, but not been able to do so due to lack of wi-fi access?"
Dousing Baker's optimistic view of a future where everyone will know everything about our holidays, is Peter Hook of the Accor Asia Pacific hotel group. The SMH article has the general manager of communications on record stating that implementing free wi-fi is no small — or cheap — task. He makes the comparison to the connectivity offered at McDonald's — sure, it's free, but it's also crappy. Providing a "high-quality, secure service" would require "100-plus" routers for your typical high-rise hotel.
I'm not going to say no to free, fast and reliable wi-fi at my next hotel stay, but I'm also a realist. Despite what Tourism Australia might want, it's going to take a considerable amount of work to convince the big chains to not only pay the coin for wi-fi infrastructure, but to offer it without a price tag.