Caribbean Idea: Should Caribbean Hotels Offer Free Wi-Fi?

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IN AN increasingly connected world, having Wi-Fi in a hotel room has become as obligatory as running water.

But at hotels around the world, Wi-Fi isn’t always accessible — or free. Sometimes there’s a daily charge, or a multiple-day fee. Other times, Wi-Fi is free, with restrictions: from expiring codes to cumbersome passwords. And, frequently, if it is free, it’s not very fast.

As the Caribbean seeks to stay ahead in an increasingly competitive global tourism market, the question is, should Caribbean hotels offer free, fast, unrestricted Wi-Fi, standard?

Well, there are certainly inherent costs.

Wi-Fi isn’t free to set up, and, depending on the size of the hotel, ensuring smooth, continuous bandwidth can be pricey. (There are, of course, some Caribbean hotels that offer a “digital detox” — but at those properties, the absence of Wi-Fi is actually a major reason for the trip.)

But there are options — as is already common in some Caribbean properties, hotels could offer free Wi-Fi for one device, and charge for any additional devices. That seems rather sensible to us.

Others could simply charge a few extra dollars a day and effectively include the Wi-Fi price in the room rate.

There’s another option, of course: simply add a small, included Wi-Fi tax to the room rate, similar to taxes that have been used to develop tourism marketing budgets.

So many Caribbean governments continue to levy departure taxes at the airport — could perhaps a small percentage of these taxes be used to develop, not just hotel Wi-Fi, but island-wide Wi-Fi?

Indeed, a Caribbean with broad hotel Wi-Fi connectivity would mean broader Internet access for all — not just the region’s hotels.

The Caribbean could then boast to the rest of the world that, despite its beautiful, tropical scenery, its hotels always include free, fast Wi-Fi. Would that not be a competitive advantage?

Wi-Fi has become a necessary part of any traveler’s stay, and the bad taste its absence leaves should not be understated.

So should Caribbean hotels offer free, unrestricted Wi-Fi? Why or why not? What do you think?

Tell us in the comments section.

— CJ

 

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