Monday, September 24, 2012

Pay For WiFi, Get A Free Mint

I read with great interest an article recently about how hotels and motels are finding it necessary to provide more high tech amenities in order to attract and retain guests. Long gone are the days when a clean bed, air conditioning, color TV and free local calls were all that was necessary to attract weary travelers. The “magic fingers” were optional.

Today, corded telephones in rooms go virtually untouched as most everyone has a mobile phone and who wants to pay those excessive long distance rates. Now rooms must have an HDTV with either a game console or DVD player and, of course, high speed WiFi. Many high-end hotels also have iPad and iPhone docking and charging stations. Because the new iPhone 5 has a different plug at the bottom, the hotels are scrambling to find adapters to allow both the old iPhones and new iPhones to connect to the old docking stations.

For years many of us have used online reservations to secure the room but now smart phone apps have been developed to order from room service, book dinner reservations and tickets to movies or shows. The concierge is now in the palm of your hand and not seated at some fancy desk in the lobby. And the app doesn’t expect a tip for directing you to the pizza joint down the street.

One the crazy things I have noticed in my travels is that the lower priced hotels provide WiFi free and the high end accommodations charge through the nose. So you can expect complementary WiFi at Motel 6 but expect to pay $20 or more per night to go on line at the glitzy four-star establishments. Guess they need the extra money for the mint on the pillow.

So the next time you are in New York you might like to stay at the famed Plaza Hotel. If you do, you will find an iPad in your room loaded with apps that play a customized welcome video, enable you to order room service and control the room temperature. The iPad even controls the lights. Of course if you stay at Motel 6 they’ll just leave the light on for you and won’t charge you for WiFi.

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