As I sit here waiting for the Texas High School Project (THSP) School Leadership Institute to begin I am saddened to realize that I am limited to my laptop being an expensive word processor.  For you young folk, a word processor would eelectronikly take what you typed…typed?  Well, that term comes from the times we used type writers to…what’s a type writer?  Oh heck, let me just continue with my post…
    So, I have no wifi here in the main ballroom.  There IS wifi for the presenters I’ve been told.  So, is this a problem with bandwidth?  Or, is this a problem with revenue.  You see the hotel has a package they sell for this conference and, I’m betting dollars to donuts, one tier allowed for wifi access to some people and another (more expensive) tier allowed for all attendees to have access.    
     What really got me was that I was working on my laptop (online) just a few minutes before.  I was only about 100 feet from the entrance to the ballroom.  But, as soon as I walked in I no longer could see the wifi I had been using.  What was funny was that I asked the front desk if I could get access to the hotel wifi even though I hadn’t checked into my room yet and they quickly told me the password (cowboys – “we are in Dallas,” my hostess stated). 
    So, they weren’t afraid to give guests free access.  But, when I crossed that invisible line of demarcation separating the Conference Center from the hotel, I wasn’t good enough to have access.  Something tells me that bandwidth is NOT the culprit.  It all comes down to revenue.  Let’s see how much money they would be losing if they had kept me happy and allowed me access.
 [We fast forward a little over 24 hours….]
     Last night I tried to finish this but I couldn’t upload the text to the blog.  Without internet access I had written what you read above in Office and I saved it in multiple formats but no luck.  Oh, I was online and I was accessing everything I wanted but I could not get this stinking thing to save in Blogger.  So, I gave up and went up to my room only to find that I couldn’t access the wifi in my room.  What really made me furious was I had access in my room but decided to work down at the bar area just an hour or so before.  Crazy!
     And so this morning I tried to access in my room and had no luck.  I went down to the front desk and, as expected I was told to contact the service provider.  They did remove the wifi fee from my tab though.  Oh, yeah, didn’t mention that little tidbit.  While in the bar area wifi was free but in my room I had to pay.  That is wrong on so many levels.  Then I headed to my first session (having left my word processor in  my room) and the presenter was disappointed that more people didn’t have their laptops with them.  When I mentioned that there wasn’t access in the rooms she stated that “there is in this room.”  Maddening!
     Now I could go into all of the craziness trying to get access this evening in the dining room (10 feet from the bar) but I won’t bore you.  Suffice it to say I am now on and I am going to, hopefully, finish this post and publish it before the wifi gods start messing with me again.
    So let’s get back to my question at the top: should wifi be expected when you are attending a conference in a hotel/conference center?  Some of us still don’t have smart phones and many of us do not have a 3G or 4G connection to our laptops.  So, some of us would like to be able to access the internet during conferences.  For example when I learned the great stuff about the new procedures for standardized testing yesterday, it would have been nice to pop up a quick tweet with a link to the resource mentioned.  It would also have been nice to go to each of the resources and book mark them for later perusal.  I could go on and on about why I should be able to access the internet. 
    But should I expect to gain access to wifi?  Yes, in 2011 I should be able to access wifi in a conference center.  I can access wifi in McDonalds in the middle of nowhere.  I can access wifi in restaurants and coffee shops all over the country in the middle of nowhere.  So, in Richardson Texas (just outside of Dallas) I should expect to be able to get access and the bandwidth I get should be strong.

5 Responses

  1. I'm in 100% agreement, Chris. As photographers, we pay a few hundred dollars to attend conferences. On top of that, we spend a lot of money on the hotel room, at local restaurants, and in the nearby bars. Our event sponsors spend even more.

    At our largest state & national events, we bring 1,000 & 10,000 photographers, respectively, to the biggest conference centers in some of the largest "conference" cities in the US (DFW, San Antonio, Nashville, Tampa).

    WiFi is essential to for almost every industry, these days. This is especially true for any tech-savvy industry like photography.

    It's a slap in the face to the money we've spent that good, high-speed WiFi isn't included with the cost of conference registration and hotel stay. Don't nickel and dime me with some $10 charge when I've just plunked down a few hundred!

    Hotels and conference centers won't lay claim to the fact that it's just something they /can/ charge for. They play dumb when it's not working or when the fees are ridiculous and even claim "corporate policy", in some cases. Well guess what, their industry is called the "Service Industry" but they are denying us a fairly basic service.

    Why not just have me bring my own towels for the room and chair for the presentations? This isn't much different.

  2. My son made an observation years ago. Holiday Inn, Motel 6, Best Western and other "cheap" hotels often provide internet access for free. Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and the higher end hotels charge $15 or more per night. Moral to this story: skip the high priced hotels. You will get better service with the budget ones.

  3. Thanks for the comments As You Wish Photography and my friend David McC. Being married to @sheilas has already gotten me to focus on the smaller, less expensive, hotel chains for free wifi. Sometimes it isn't that strong or it may go up and down but – it's free.
    The problem with this situation is I had no choice of place to stay since the room was paid for by THSP. That brings up another thought, though, if a company or organization is bringing 100's (10's of thousands?) of people to a conference then there is automatically increased revenue in all venues associated with the conference. Why, then, can't they make access to the internet free?

  4. I would be so frustrated if I were at a conference that didn't offer wifi. My netbook seems to be an extension of my brain. I automatically think of bookmarking interesting links, access information, and taking notes via Twitter. I feel somewhat like a Borg at times. Sure, I can manage without it, but why would I want to?

    I automatically assume that any conference that I am going to will offer wifi. This post has made me think that I need to do some research of the venue before I assume anything!

  5. Thanks for the comment Elizabeth. It really is crazy that they can do that to people in 2011. But, as you said, it pays to do some homework, in advance, so you know what you are getting in to.

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