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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Hilton Hotels WiFi - welcome to customer disloyalty

Right, I've threatened in the past to name and shame offenders in the "ripoff WiFi at conferences" stakes. Time to act.

I think possibly the most egregious pricing, and attitude to conference organisers, is courtesy of Hilton Hotels. I've just been informed that an event I'm attending at the Hilton Vienna next week charges €30 per day for WiFi. "Amusingly" this means it is actually cheaper for me to check email via ludicrously-priced GPRS roaming. As usual, I expect the hotel won't bundle this at a sensible rate for event organisers to provide as a courtesy to delegates.

The irony here is that the event is about "In-Building Wireless Solutions".

So. My turn. I'm always being asked to speak or chair at numerous events by conference organisers, vendors, PR companies and assorted others. I had 3 invitations yesterday alone. I find it relatively difficult to choose which to go to.

Some obvious criteria apply: if I'm being paid (or at least reimbursed for expenses), if it's a topic that dovetails precisely with my research themes, or if it's an audience that includes loads of current or potential future clients.

I'll add another one - so listen up, Informa, IIR, Osney and everyone else.

As a default, I will no longer speak at, or attend events, held at Hilton Hotels. If it's something I absolutely HAVE to be at, I won't be staying at the hotel overnight, but another one nearby. I encourage all of you to do the same.

On the same theme, I was at the Wireless Event conference & exhibition earlier this week, at Olympia in London. Stupidly priced wireless due to venue owner obstinacy and near-extortion, so I used the fixed ethernet cable in the press room (how's that for another irony) and email via GPRS. I'll see if I can track down & personally contact the person responsible & point out how much he's alienating his customers' customers. I chaired part of the event this year, and I've told the very-affable-and-equally-frustrated organiser that I'm not prepared to do it again next year if the situation doesn't change.

And if any cellular operator would like to loan me a 3G-backhauled portable WiFi AP like this one from Voda & Linksys to take to conferences & run my own "rogue WiFi" I'll be more than happy to write about it here. After all, I give plenty of space to IP-oriented companies that can arbitrage around cellular operators' ripoffs, so it would be nice to see the HSDPA guys getting their own back.....


Anonymous said...

Hi Dean, just covering all my bases! If you give me a call, I've got a unit we can loan you. Cheers, David

Ian Wood. Principal Wireless Foundry LLP said...


Have to say that I did find it amusing that when I attended on Wednesday we were left with no access. To try and keep us happy they did give us free vouchers for T-Mobile and The Cloud but alas they were not the provider for Olymipia.

However the BT PR watcher was at least switched on and she was giving out 24 Hour access vouchers in her packs. Thus we were able to use the expensive wifi service for free. Guess by Thursday the vouchers had run out.

Looks like you have found a friend at Vodafone who can give you more equipment to lug around. Hope that he also gets you on a press sim so that you are not ripped off with data roaming costs when you do use it overseas.

Jon Collins said...

I do sometimes wonder whether some companies actually want customers... the Hilton's already on my miss-list at Newbury, as they have started to charge for parking. Sorry guys, the openzone hotspot was nice and the coffee not bad, but that's little incentive to spend an extra few quid every time I go... last time was about 6 weeks ago, when 3 of us met, but now I'll suggest somewhere a bit more pleasant that actually wants me to be there.

Unknown said...

I stayed in Hilton hotel once, in New York. I liked this hotel, very good service. Also I have been to many hotels around the world, because I'm traveling very often. I just came back from Spain. I fell in love with Barcelona and it's beautiful architecture, there is so much to see and could have stayed for longer, however, you can get to see a lot in a day as it is not that big and is easy to get around. Finding a nice centrally located accommodation in hotels in Barcelona is no easier than any other great city. It's no wonder why Barcelona city is so popular. Fabulous architecture, brilliant Spanish cuisine, flamboyant culture and wonderful weather combine to make Barcelona a truly magnificent city.