Holidaymakers and business travellers are being ripped off by high and confusing Wi-Fi charges in airport lounges, cafes and hotels, with rates varying by up to 1100% within a single destination, according to an investigation by Expedia.
The research compares Wi-Fi rates at a global hotel chain; 5-star to 2-star hotels; an international café chain and airport lounges across ten top destinations and reveals that hotels with a lower star rating are more likely to offer free Wi-Fi access than international or 5-star hotels, where rates can be up to €21.00 per hour to connect. With a fifth (18%) of UK travellers willing to downgrade their hotel star rating to safeguard their 2009 travel plans, free Wi-Fi is yet another added benefit in combating the credit crunch.
Travellers are not only getting a bad deal with high Wi-Fi fees, but the variety of pricing models - from half hourly or hourly to day rates - make comparison hard. Europe is the most expensive for Wi-Fi, with Venice topping the list thanks to an average charge of €7.40 per hour, compared to just €0.90 in Florida where most travellers benefit from an abundance of free Wi-Fi.
“In the 21st century, getting online while you travel should be simple and cost effective - instead it seems it is confusing and overpriced.” says Alison Couper, communications director, Expedia.co.uk. “If travellers know that they are going to need to access the internet while abroad, we are advising them to do their research before they go to ensure they know the cost of web access upfront.”
“Simply dropping one or two hotel star ratings is a great way to reduce your travel budget in 2009, and as our research shows it can reap even more rewards in terms of free Wi-Fi and other added extras, whether you’re a business traveller or going on holiday.”
Expedia Top Tips to Avoid High Wi-Fi Costs
1. Take it down a star - Sacrificing one or two star ratings could give you free Wi-Fi for the duration of your stay. With some global hotels charging up to €21.00 per hour - over a 5-day stay this could work out to be a saving of almost €500 (€473) based on being online for a 7.5 hour working day.
2. Plan ahead - call your hotel in advance to find out how much they charge for Wi-Fi access as it may work out more cost effective to use a local internet cafe instead.
3. Wi-Fi versus the Business Centre - while connecting your laptop via Wi-Fi in your room may be high, often using webmail in the hotel’s business centre is free.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for a deal - in the same way hoteliers are more open to price deals in the current climate, why not ask if you can do a deal on Wi-Fi access, particularly if you are staying at the hotel over a few days.