(update 21 may 2010:  Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco offers free wireless in guest rooms and meeting rooms. incroyable!)

Attended a professional conference lately?

Had an interesting time trying to access wireless internet?

I’ve ragged on this topic before, but as I prepare to attend two conferences the issue again raises its ugly head.

It strikes me as rapacious in the extreme that many hotels deliberately restrict wireless access in meeting rooms so they can force the meeting organizer to pay for a connection and then pay for each user.

A colleague in conference planning tells me an initial wireless connection costs anywhere from $250-$1000 and the additional user fee anywhere from $25-$100 per room, depending on the venue.

It may be the case that hotels have sliding scales for for-profits and non-profits. But if the above rates are for non-profits, as is our case ….

Plenary sessions can be fantastic. But it’s in the breakout rooms where the vibrant conversations take place. With punitive fees like these, we cannot share what we’re learning with colleagues elsewhere, until later in the day, when other activities have intervened, and details begin to get fuzzy.

Hotels are in business to make money. Conference hotels are in business to make loads of money.

For associations in the non-profit sector, this practice is cost prohibitive.

Despite the awful state of the economy, it’s still the case that professional conferences bring tons of money to the hospitality industry.

I believe that high fees for wireless access generate as much ill will as they do profit.


2 Responses to Rapacious

  1. Certainly, if I were organising a conference or any gathering, free WiFi would be a pre-requisite.

  2. Delaina says:

    We had this exact problem for presenters at a major PR conference this past June. But we soon found out that they didn’t change the WiFi password the entire time, so we just passed it around to everyone we knew.

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