Adam's Law of Hotel Wi-Fi

Oct 26, 2010 by

Adam’s Law of Hotel Wi-Fi is:

“The cheaper the room price, the cheaper, more plentiful, and less encumbered the Wi-Fi.”

I’ve found that hostels almost universally have decent, totally open WiFi, 2-3 star hotels tend to have either free in-room Wi-Fi with some sort of terms of service or free Wi-Fi in the lobby. The high-end hotels tend to try to charge for Wi-Fi. Today, I visited a hotel that wanted to charge $5 per 30 minutes. I’ve always thought that charging $10 per day is insane, but this took the cake. Given the low marginal cost of providing Wi-Fi, it is amazing that they only offered metered service in such a stingy quantity.

Why does this Law hold? Cheap hotels like to provide Wi-Fi because it is an amenity that customers really appreciate that doesn’t cost them much to provide. A hostel or bed and breakfast can likely provide it for around $30 per month. Given the low number of patrons in the facility, only simple equipment is needed, as there are unlikely to be many concurrent users. As people staying in these environments are price sensitive, they are less willing to pay for Wi-Fi than those staying in more luxurious hotels. So, these establishments give away Wi-Fi to attract guests, just like they give away free coffee.

On the high-end, the Law holds because more expensive hotels know that their guests are more willing to pay for convenience. Furthermore, their guests are more likely to be able to expense things to their employers. Just as high-end hotels try to charge for coffee, they also like to charge for Wi-Fi. Rather than seeing it as a perk to attract guests, they view their room and service quality as their core offering.

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