The Sheraton is a Starwood property. Tonight, we discovered that there is a survey on the wireless service web page; complete the survey and Starwood will give you 30 minutes free wireless connection.
Mike, with WinXP/Pro, completed the survey; after a few false starts, he had wireless connectivity.
I tried with this Pismo/G4. Started with Safari; message after I completed the survey? “Access Denied.” Tried next with Mozilla; same result.
Next up – MSIE. Note that none of the survey pages loaded images for the Mac (it loaded images for XP) — regardless of browser.
But MSIE was promising. The JSP application seemed to be working … I even got a “popup” with a button for high speed access … but one more time the message in the primary window was Access Denied.
Adding insult to injury, I clicked the “go to high speed access” button in the popup, only to be told that I had one minute of service remaining. But I had no connection!
I waited at the reception desk to complain to the manager on duty. She commiserated. (I told her I understood that it wasn’t her problem, but that it was very irritating.) She offered to comp us wired connectivity for the evening. Great!
We had packed a hub so that we could work at the same time. Tonight we learned that it’s not $14.95 for the ROOM; it’s $14.95 for each MACHINE. So this hotel wants the equivalent of five months DSL for nine days of service for two laptops. Incredible.
What’s more incredible is that business people are probably paying this and their accounting departments are saying “OK, it’s a business expense.”
I contend that this high-speed pricing model is unsustainable. It’s extortion.
The WiFi pricing model does not work either: there is no competition for service in the hotel. This sad state of affairs exists despite the fact that there seem to be hot spots everywhere around the hotel. We could get Verizon (a phone booth? huh?) or go to MacDonald’s or go to a coffeeshop. Most other service options have pricing plans that include a reduced rate for multiple-day service. Heck, with Verizon it’s free if you have their dial up or DSL service.
But you have to be able to conveniently access the service.
Fortunately, the host committee for WWW2004 owns transponders. Each meeting room at the hotel has wireless connectivity during “conference hours.” But that means that attendees who need to work at night are still stuck with the hotel’s monopoly pricing if they want to work in the comfort of their room.
Conference planners, listen up. Negotiate free (or reduced price) connectivity for your convention attendees. Especially when those folks are computer professionals.