Thursday, December 06, 2007

Civilized Wi-Fi in public spaces, versus Caesar's Palace

In November I gave a talk on Web search analytics in Barcelona, and this week, in Las Vegas.

In Barcelona we were at a hotel called the AB Skipper. Their approach was totally civilized. Free Wi-Fi (and Ethernet) in all the rooms, and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.

The conference was at Caesar's Palace. They charged $13.99 per 24 hours of Wi-Fi. They offered no free Wi-Fi in public spaces or conference rooms.

I write at the McCarran Airport in Las Vegas. They provide free Wi-Fi throughout the airport. They even advertise it.

When I connect in Minneapolis and in Detroit, the airports will charge for Wi-Fi.

I'm not a Utopian who believes that Wi-Fi will set you free. I think, for instance, that attempts for cities to paint the whole town wireless were doomed to failure. (And in fact many have failed.)

But I do think it makes much more sense to follow the model of the AB Skipper and of McCarran than to attempt to squeeze extra dollars of people stuck on your premises. On the way to the airport I passed a Motel 6 that had a banner offering free Wi-Fi. Major hotels and airports should offer Wi-Fi just as they provide electricity, and make their money off the bars and not amenities people have come to expect.