Hotel WiFi and the Meeting Planner

Hotel Wifi cost is something that can be difficult for meeting planners to understand and for good reason. It doesn’t make any freaking sense. I can find no logical rhyme or reason for the cost or how it is applied. You will find one hotel where Wifi is free in all spaces, another where it is $9.95 in the guest room but free in the lobby and 9k in the ballrooms, or free in the guest room but 15k in the ballrooms, and yet another where you can pay $19.95 in the room but if you sign up for the hotel loyalty rewards program, they will waive the fee and bring you a plate of bacon to munch on while you surf Facebook in your jammies.

And now, to add even more pain, many properties have that big ol AV company and if you pinky swear promise to use them for Audio Visual Production, they will “waive” the internet fee for your attendees… Really, no shit. If you use their services, they will waive a $19,000 fee for 400 people to use the hotel wifi. It is like some twisted Escher painting that makes your brain hurt.

Meeting planners are smart people; We “get it” when we are being taken for a ride. We know that hotels, the Death Star AV company, and everyone else in-between are gouging us, our attendees, and our exhibitors. They are beating us up and doing it with a smile on their smug faces telling us whatever they think we want to hear.

I actually had a hotel salesperson tell me straight up that the charge was crap and that the hotel knew it but it was a way to make up lost profits. The honesty was refreshing and we were able to negotiate most of the charge out of the contract… but I should not have to. We have bigger fish to fry in our contract talks.

Once Starbucks, Target, and the corner pub all started offering free wifi to a population of caffeine-drinking, discount-shopping, drunkards, it was just a matter of time before the general population wanted free wifi everywhere they go. If the airport has free wifi, it is time for hotels and conference centers to at least offer fair and competitive pricing and not tie it to using the in-house AV company.

But me thinks my rant lands on deaf ears. Arm yourselves with information and choices and use them as a negotiating lever. Maybe you can do better than the rest of us…

Keith Johnston

Keith Johnston

Keith is the Managing Partner of i3 Events but is most widely known as the outspoken publisher of the event industry blog PlannerWire. In addition to co-hosting the Bullet List and Event Tech Pull Up Podcasts, he has been featured in Plan Your Meetings, Associations Now, Convene, Event Solutions, and has appeared on the cover of Midwest Meetings Magazine.

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