Crappy, expensive Internet and insufficient laptop plugs top business travellers' hotel annoyance list

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82 Responses to “Crappy, expensive Internet and insufficient laptop plugs top business travellers' hotel annoyance list”

  1. My other half organises events at a University and has taken to buying month long contract mifi dongles for weekend conferences as its cheaper than buying access to hotel Internet for the attendees.

    They live on another planet.

    • snowmentality says:

      Seriously. At an IEEE conference I attended, all they had was a small table with a few crappy PCs with heavily time-limited internet access. I don’t know how much the hotel wanted to charge the conference organizers to allow all the attendees wi-fi access, but it was clearly too much.

      If your travel is paid for by a big company, and you can just expense everything or put it on the company card, then expensive internet doesn’t matter. I guess those are the only people the hotels give a crap about. It’s an easy way for the hotels to grab some extra money, because BigCorp, Inc. isn’t even going to notice an extra $20/day charge for internet access. But it really sucks for everyone who isn’t on an unlimited expense account.

      • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

        Incidentally, the ‘BigCorp expense account’ effect frequently leads to a curious quirk:

        Classy hotels, of the sort that specialize in handling upmarket corporate suits and road-warrior types, frequently have internet both shitty and expensive(if you are really lucky, they are ‘early adopters’ so they are still using the 10mb ethernet that they installed back in 1999 or so, no wifi). It just goes on the expense account, and as long as it isn’t too broken for the VPN back to corporate to work, who cares?

        The cheap seats, on the other hand, know that they are dealing with cost-sensitive customers and also know that a cheapest-tier commercial broadband account and a wireless router are an inexpensive way to add a desirable feature to an otherwise wholly interchangeable institution.

        Unless you are really dipping into cockroaches-and-Psycho territory, cheaper hotels are more likely to have free wifi than are the classy joints.

        • This. An expensive hotel knows you’re probably staying there on an expense account because no normal person in their right mind would pay that much for a hotel room. So they feel free to charge as much as they want for as crappy a service as possible.

          The cheap hotels know you can go anywhere else, so draw you in with good free WiFi.

        • kringlebertfistyebuns says:

          I too have noticed this phenomenon.  If the room costs more than $100/night, you’re likely going to pay for wi-fi.  But the friggin’ Motel 6 has it free.

        • Manue says:

          You’re right.  I’ve been away from home around 150 nights last year and Internet has been free everywhere; corporate sends us to good-but-not-that-fancy hotels.  So, since I’m lucky with the free Internet access, my #1 is most definitely electric outlets (some chain – name begins with W – has outlets everywhere, love to go there), #2 would be bad shower/bath and #3 no TV menu to find the channels quickly.

        • stuck411 says:

          My findings exactly. The pricey hotels have to cover labor and service costs that the majority of their road warrior patrons might never use, like a concierge or a pastry chef. They work hard to find ways to pad the bill and Internet access is one of them.

        • toyg says:

          Would you class Hilton and Hyatt as “classy” or “cheap”? Because I get free wifi at both, with their loyalty schemes — and before that, with a discounted corporate account; and before that, with the somewhat expensive iPass program. Speed is ok (better at Hyatt, anecdotally). 

          Despite all common branding and corporate management, hotels do still differ widely.

        • absolutely. i would sooner stay in a Hampton Inn (free wifi and a free breakfast that includes either peanut butter or oatmeal – protein, the road warrior’s essential) than a Marriott, Sheraton, etc. Exceptions: Ws and their downmarket Loft siblings; and the Kimpton loyalty program gets you free wifi and free wine.

  2. Gyrofrog says:

    I had about 10 of these (mostly in the top half of the list) where I stayed for several weeks last month.  I’d also add “ominous and loud electrical hum.”

    On the other hand they served good hummus and ful medames for breakfast.  Also, I should keep in perspective that a subpar hotel room is still a roof over my head, no matter what.

    But yeah, charging for wi-fi?  In this case, they had me, because it wasn’t as though there was some nearby place offering free wi-fi.

    • robuluz says:

      That’s tough. I would forgive a multitude of sins for good hummus, but those ‘ominous electrical hums’… yeah. They are probably irradiating your testicles.

      • Gyrofrog says:

        Yeah but they still came down a notch, because by Friday (which, in Oman, is like Sunday) the ful medames was obviously leftover from the weekdays, and watered down.  After I ate it on Sunday it gave me a problem for about 24 hours, and on subsequent Sundays I skipped the ful.

        The electric hum sounded like a big transformer, but as it wasn’t constant, I think it was just someone else’s air conditioner.

        (But like someone else said, first world problem: I’m complaining about food and shelter, plus I was conveyed 6000 miles to be there)

        • robuluz says:

          Man, its Boing Boing. If people weren’t complaining about first world problems the site wouldn’t exist. If people weren’t complaining about people complaining about first world problems, it wouldn’t be Boing Boing.

          And good hummus becomes good lab culture medium fairly quickly….

  3. technobach says:

    I never have the problem with electrical outlets, because I have both an extension cord and a power bar in my laptop bag.

    Also, this has #firstworldproblems written all over it.

    • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

      I simply can’t imagine why ‘frequent business travellers’(by air) who stay at hotels might have a collection of largely first world problems…

      (Though, in fairness, I should note that fitting enough goats to pay a bride-price into the overhead compartment is quite a chore…)

  4. Jimmy Jone says:

    I have to wonder if the Starbucks analogy is really apples to apples.  Someone please correct me if I’m wrong, but my assumption was that the cost of providing wi-fi was related to the  reach of the signal.  Wouldn’t wi-fi cost much more for a hotel than for a Starbucks?

    • travtastic says:

       They’re going to need repeaters, basically. It’s more up-front cost, but the extra upkeep expenses are just someone power-cycling routers, and a faster connection if they have a lot of users.

      • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

        Depending on how large the site is, and how robust you want the result to be, doing things ‘right’ can actually get fairly pricey… 

        A wireless controller appliance from Cisco, Juniper, Alcatel, or the like(which you generally will want, for fun features like seamless handoff between APs, central management/config and status reporting on APs,  client triangulation, and assorted other fun stuff) can easily set you back $5k+, depending on the number of APs you need to control(always more than you would hope, unfortunately) and whatever arcane licensing scheme the vendor has. APs to match can be a $100-$400 a pop, depending on the features.

        Then you need the backbone ethernet and the switches(PoE of course).

        Small buildings or more creative mesh-backbone stuff will, of course, be considerably cheaper, though you can find savings evaporating fast if you have to call in an electrician to wire up a bunch of APs in theft-resistant locations that weren’t previously electrified, hence the enterprise enthusiasm for PoE….

        • EH says:

          Oh come on, it’s not hard. It’s a solved problem. It’s not like hotel laptoppers aren’t used to reconnecting, and cutting down the reconnects to once-per-room is a far sight better than the service levels common to hotels these days.

          • fuzzyfuzzyfungus says:

            Oh, I don’t disagree that it’s a solved problem. Or that the places charging for it are either charging at ‘because-we-can’ rates(hotels, conference centers) or because this isn’t your damn office(coffee shops, etc.)

            I merely wanted to point out that, as one talks about larger buildings, (and moves away from clever hacks and toward hiring a contractor, as most hotel chains and similar would be expected to), a five to six figure price tag is entirely within the realm of the expected for a decent wifi install.

      • stuck411 says:

        Lord, I love the expensive hotels that went the ethernet route back in the 90s. In order to save their phone systems from dial-up many establishments installed ethernet cables throughout. The down side is that some less than smart hotels have remodeled their rooms and have pulled out or plastered over the connections.

  5. penguinchris says:

    Almost everything about hotels seems bizarre to me (and though I’m not a business traveler I have spent a lot of time staying in hotels of all sorts in many different places so it’s not inexperience). They live on another planet indeed.

    They must have their reasons, chief among them being simply that they can get away with it of course. For me though, I tend to make the final decision on which hotel to choose (after the primary considerations of location and price range) based on which has free wi-fi. 

    I guess business travelers don’t really get to choose where they stay, but I’m surprised that none of the major hotel chains have tried free wi-fi (and no other hidden fees) as a marketing angle – bet they’d get a lot of corporate accounts switched over. But I guess they’re probably all colluding to ensure that the pure-profit extra charges they all have don’t go away.

    • EH says:

      I’m sure there are tons of business courses about this “cheating death” business model, “adverse selection” or some shit.

  6. TombKing says:

    Yeah I was really boggling at some of the upper tier hotels when the family splurged on a few locations for roadtrips in the past. The  budget but nice and even the one travel lodge at $60/night all had free internet, not blazing fast but it worked and you could check email and surf the the web without fuss. The 4 star places wanted like $20+ a day for ‘blazing speed’ of 3mbps. So yeah while the superduper credit card we have allows discount prices so we are not paying the full price but jeebus if travel lodge can give you free wifi how the hell is it the Hilton can’t?

  7. WhipArtist says:

    I’ve taken to traveling with a small power strip.

    I also have a Ting 4G wireless hotspot.  I pay by the megabyte, but the rates are pretty reasonable for my purposes.  The $19/month I pay would cover about a day and a half of hotel internet.  

    Ting handles going over your allotment sanely– they just raise you to the next tier, and they credit you if you don’t use what you paid for in a month.  They’re owned by Tucows, so they’re geek-friendly.  I’m beginning to sound like a shill, but I recommend them.

  8. niktemadur says:

    7) Drapes that don’t fully close.
    That’s my pet peeve.
    10) Pillows uncomfortable,
    when it’s a car trip, I find myself carrying an ergonomic pillow around like a dork, but it’s worth it.
    As for 4) Noise…, only once, in San Francisco, did I end up having an… erm… noisy couple next door.  And the bedpost kept banging into the wall.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      when it’s a car trip, I find myself carrying an ergonomic pillow around like a dork

      I take four down pillows and one buckwheat pillow if it’s a car trip. I did stay at one hotel (I can’t remember the name) in the Silicon Valley area that had feather beds, down pillows and comforters. It was great.

      • niktemadur says:

        Four pillows is my norm, but only one for the head, the other three are for calves and thighs, waist and chest, I sleep on my side.  Regular hotel pillows will do the trick for those three.

        • snowmentality says:

           Agreed. I love having a king-size bed and ALL THE PILLOWS, all to myself. Best part of staying in a hotel.

      • EH says:

        Last time I did that I left my banky in Phoenix. I was 21. True story!

    • Manue says:

      You would be surprised at how many people take their pillow on the plane too :)

  9. Stayed at a hotel in Frankfurt last week, Wi-Fi was €17 a room. It was only when we got there that we found this was per device. As our two-night stay went through three 24-hour periods, we could have paid more for Internet access than we did for the room.

    OK the room *was* a great price…  But hotel Wi-Fi should really be cheaper than using 3G with roaming charges!

  10. I hate it when they leave the dead hookers under the bed.

  11. LinkMan says:

    “Twenty dollars a day for Internet? What the fuck?” -Admiral General Aladeen

  12. philipb says:

    Think internet is costly in the room try buying data connections in the conference center.  This year we’ve seen a charge as high as $1,000 per day per machine, completely shattering the previous record of $450!

    I believe their term is “value driven customer solutions.”

    • brerrabbit23 says:

      I’ve encountered this, in Chicago, as well. Though it was $1,000 for poorly relayed wi-fi and $1,500 for dropdowns (50m from any place usable).

    • stuck411 says:

      I’m not anti-union, but some of that high pricing comes from the fact that they have to pay some outrages prices for labor. In upstate NY one place couldn’t change out light bulbs unless it was a licensed electrician doing the job. Our nonprofit had to live with a dark spot in the room because their electrician was off duty.

      • Steve Pan says:

        UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS UNIONS

        • Unions certainly can’t be the only reason. I’m paying about $12 per device at an Indian hotel (a country where I can take a half hour taxi journey for about $4). I don’t think service unions are terribly powerful in India. 
          It’s price gouging, pure and simple.

  13. Seg says:

    This is more about hotel conference room rental, but a related story.

    Years ago my team of students and I developed a system for conducting auditions for the performing arts department for Emerson College called StageDoor. While I had an offline mode, being on the Internet saved paper and more secure than moving paper sheets across 5 cities on a two week tour.

    The Palmer House Hilton in Chicago wanted to charge $1,000 a day for one room to have wired Internet access. We passed on that, and discovered we couldn’t get basic cell phone coverage due to it being a ‘historic’ building.

    The LAX Hilton wanted to charge $1,500/room for wired access. However, the ‘guest’ Internet access was also available in these areas for $10/computer/day. We registered our 3 laptops on the client network.

  14. Daneel says:

    I’ve always enjoyed fighting with the cleaning staff over the superfluous pillows hotel rooms seem to have. They don’t seem to understand that when I throw them on the floor it’s because I don’t need 10 sodding pillows in order to sleep. Sometimes I’ve gone to the trouble of hiding them in wardrobes.

    • philipb says:

      The smart maids take note and set the pillows accordingly.  Must be a PITA stacking those things everyday for them.

    • Personally, I stuff the pillows under the sheets and imagine I’m in a soft cave. No psychoanalysis, please.

    • bigfatlamer says:

      I actually always want more pillows. On my most recent fancy hotel stay, I repeatedly requested extra pillows (from both the front desk and from the housekeeping staff). I kept getting them and then, the next time somebody came into my room, they would disappear.

  15. autark says:

    I’m reading this from a hostel at 2am in Hamburg right now… the place is clean, secure, free decent WiFi, electrical outlets everywhere.  They even have private rooms for a steal compared to biz-travel… yeah, I’m probably too old for this, I haven’t stayed in a hostel since college (not even in the ‘oughts), but despite the low price I’m happier here than I would have been at the Radisson Blu in Kristiansand that wanted Kr1500 (over $250) a night from me ( and that’s nothing for biz-travel ).  I slept in the car if anybody is curious.  It was Norway, you can camp pretty much anywhere.

    Oh and then there’s AirBnB.

    I know, I know, I’m not really addressing the biz travel market, but hey, fuck those guys and their suits, right?  They’re getting what they pay for, status, not service.

    • robuluz says:

      Back when I was a jet setting presales tech rep dude, I knew a few guys who’d shun the mid-range hotels and stay with the British backpackers in Glebe (Sydney). I think there’s probably a lot of you.

  16. Marcus Worth says:

    I think I’ve had all of these problems at one point or another. Also noticing that the link above goes to page three of the article – pg 1 is at http://www.frequentbusinesstraveler.com/2012/06/hotel-pet-peeves-what-bugs-you-the-most-in-2012/

  17. apenzott says:

     Let’s see:
      – Alarm clock (in vacant room next door) left set.
      – Resort fees at luxury hotel when the nature of your visit only allows time to shower and sleep (and no time to utilize amenities beyond your room.)
      – After paying exorbitant internet fees for a conference, being able to print to a local (shared network) printer is a foreign concept to the incumbent network providers.  Especially when you try to explain to them that the printer won’t be “requiring Internet access” and shouldn’t be charged the usual rate.
      – The easily available outlets are loose and well worn by hotel staff as they are the only outlets available for their use (for vacuuming the room.)

  18. awjt says:

    Rank 0:  exorbitant rates.

  19. travtastic says:

    In my experience, the cheaper a hotel room gets, the better their internet service (assuming that they have Wifi in the first place). Some of the best hotel internet I’ve seen is in $35/day rooms at beach towns, off-season.

    • technogeekagain says:

       I’ve had the same experience. Small hotels which cater to business travelers rather than tourists or expense-account types see it as something to draw people in rather than an additional profit source. Often, it’s a matter of “We want it for our own use anyway, and the more clearly it’s a business expense the easier it will be to deduct.”

    • BongBong says:

      I agree. I’ve had terrible experiences with the big hotels in Vegas regarding wi-fi. They try to milk you for everything.

      • Lemoutan says:

         Well, they’re in business, y’know. It’s kind of how it works.

      • Cory Doctorow says:

         I think in Vegas they’re specifically trying to get you not to stay in your room so that you spend more time gambling.

      • Sparrow says:

        I stayed just off Fremont Street inVegas in a place that charged less than a rental car and had free wifi, and the location could not have been more convenient to get to the shows and casinos. I actually found it by driving past with my wifi detector turned on, looking for a place I could get online to look for recommendations.

    • TombKing says:

      Yes. See my above comment on how all the bugdet hotel/motels I have stayed at had free wifi but the high end places were charging daily for speeds that would get me a month of access if was at home.

  20. chgoliz says:

    I am amazed that we industrialized humans have so quickly shifted our focus from all the conventional, known-since-time-began hassles of traveling away from home to having only one overriding concern: access to the intertoobs.

    Noise or light issues?  Filth?  Lack of service?  Nope…the only thing that matters is: can we read our email at the exact moment we want to?

    Some members of my family did this too, on our last trip.  Everything was perfect — clean, beautiful, well-maintained — but it turns out the hotel was keeping tabs on *which* 3 devices were using each room’s (paid) wifi service.  And we all had more than 1 device per person.  Can you imagine the horror?

    • Drabula says:

      For real. How did I EVER enjoy all those family hotel stays as a kid without the wonders of the internet to stare at – oh that’s right, I was out enjoying the real world! I guess the world just isn’t as interesting now unless it’s viewed via a device.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        What part of “business traveller” are you unclear on?

        • Lemoutan says:

          The part where business travel used to mean just a method of transport to a place to stay so that you could do your business during what used to be called normal working hours?

      • stuck411 says:

        Er, you probably spent the time having your parents yell at you to hold the rabbit ears correctly so that they could watch “Ironsides”.

  21. bigfatlamer says:

    Just spent 2 Grand (of somebody else’s money fortunately) for a 5 night stay in Chicago. In addition to the Top 10 in the list which my room suffered from, I’d add that I wound up with a room that, while quite large, was equipped with a Murphy bed, no desk, no couch and no clock or radio. I quickly got over the lack of intertron (thanks tethered 4G) but that’s just dumb.

  22. chrimux says:

    That’s one reason why I don’t stay at hotels any more. Apartments are cheaper, larger, have a fridge and cooking facilities, a balcony and free high speed wlan. Hotels are like factories.

  23. kmoser says:

    My biggest peeves: shower doesn’t have a soap tray (or if it does, it’s directly in line with the spraying water) and  shower has no mirror (doesn’t anyone else shave in the shower?).

    • royaltrux says:

       You’re not my wife so I’m going to come right out and say it: That’s kind of a waste of water and energy, isn’t it?

      • rivkin says:

         Possibly, but I’m taking a 5 minute shower, no matter what, and my face is awfully wet and clean when I’m in there, so I do the same as kmoser.  However, I don’t use a mirror.

      • kmoser says:

        If you assume I leave the water running while shaving, your assumption would be wrong.

        If you’re concerned with saving energy and water, I assume you only run the shower for a total of 60 seconds: 30 seconds when getting wet and 30 seconds when rinsing, with the water off while lathering/cleaning.

        Shall we have a competition about who can take the quickest shower?

        When it comes down to it, showers themselves are a waste of water and energy. Sponge baths are where it’s at.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I bleed.  A lot.  So, yeah, I shave in the shower with the water running.  I’m also 54 and have never had a lawn.

  24. benenglish says:

    The Hilton nearest Disneyland has expensive access in your room, free wi-fi in the main lobby.   It’s amazing how many people tended to hang out in the lobby.

    • Ken Breadner says:

      I spent a week at Disney World for my tenth anniversary a couple of years ago. I normally surf four to six hours a day and I didn’t think of the Internet once that week. Disney is rolling out wifi to its resorts and the reaction ranges from “it’s about time” to IT’S ABOUT EFFING TIME”. This depresses the almighty hell out of me. To think that somebody, let alone seemingly everybody, can spend time in “the happiest place on earth” and think to themslves “yeah, it’s okay, but you know what it’s missing? The Internet.”

      • realityhater says:

        Ken – from someone who lives in Florida – Disney World is NOT the happiest place on earth! and for most of us the escape to the wonderful world of the internet is a necessity after 8 hours in 110 degree weather standing in line to ride 3 possibly 4 rides ……at $84.00 a ticket .

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        I was on Santorini when one of my companions said, in earnest, “I miss television.”

      • benenglish says:

        Well, OK, but I wasn’t actually talking about internet access while visiting Disneyland.  I was there for a week-long conference, providing tech support to 1300 (Hey, there were two of us; we could handle it.) managers from another division during their annual meetup.  That means 1200 primadonnas who expected their computers to magically do everything just as fast and in exactly the same way as when they were plugged in back at the office.  The other 100 were smart enough to give their temp/acting replacements back home access to their email and leave their computers behind.  I never went to the park and sorta agree with you.  If I’m on vacation, I don’t have much need for a computer.  Maybe 10 minutes a day on my iPad, mostly for maps and figuring out where to eat, and I’m done.

  25. HubrisSonic says:

    No wire hangers, EVER!

  26. James Turner says:

    I travel alot of work and the best tip I have on the subject is to carry a long ethernet cable with a female-female adaptor. The wifi generally sucks in hotels anyway and this way, netflixs in bed!

  27. HeartlessMachine says:

    Back before iPhones and iPads, my only option for checking email while traveling was a laptop.  I checked into a hotel that didn’t have wifi, but had an ethernet jack in every room.  The ethernet jack was in a corner of the room exactly 14 feet from the nearest available power receptacle.  Oh, and the laptop’s battery was a POS.

  28. jandrese says:

    Generally wired Ethernet is better than Wifi anyway, even ancient 10Mbps Ethernet.  The real killer is the hotel’s uplink.  Frequently this is a puny 1Mbps DSL line or something that is shared by everybody in the hotel and so overloaded that it is constantly crashing. 

    I’m the kind of person that always has an Ethernet cable in his laptop bag though.  I have also called the hotel’s ISP on more than one occasion to try to get them to fix the connection.   On one occasion I was even successful.  Apparently it had been broken for a long time, but nobody on the staff understood a thing about it and didn’t realize that the company that had installed it had their phone number right on the landing page. 

  29. Ryan Lenethen says:

    I went on a European vacation last summer and was astounded. I thought they would be far ahead of us in the western world for hotel internet. I was wrong.

    I had pretty much expected to find free internet everywhere in Rome, Italy. I mean it is a large city, and tourist mecca, a true cosmopolitan, a modern city. WRONG. No free wifi ANYWHERE. You want a shitty wifi connection, you are paying 20$ for an hour at your hotel. It was absolutely absurd. I really couldn’t believe it. Even just walking around, literally no free wifi in any shops, restaurants, nothing. Heck I can walk any street in Toronto and find a wifi signal I can use. It was pretty much like this in all of Italy. Plenty of wifi, but none of it free.

    However we then go to Greece, totally different. Free wifi everywhere. Heck I recall even going to a low rent outdoor restaurant, and the waiter had an ipad with wifi with the menu, pictures of the food, translation to English, and even let us keep it during our stay to play youtube videos etc…  I mean it totally blew my mind, I thought if anything the situation would be reversed. Now if only Greece can figure out their whole toilet and sewer system issues… Of course in Italy, while they had a vastly more sanitary system, if you went into a lot of public restrooms, you are expected to pay for the privilege, oh and if you actually want a toilet seat, you are gonna have to pay extra for that as well. They actually physically hand you a freaking toilet seat! Unbelievable. I know on our tour group it was just another great reason to be a guy! :)

  30. I always travel with an extension cord. problem #2 solved

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