The New York Times Practical Traveler today has a feature on the price of staying connected that focuses on hotel WiFi and its pricing and various consumer and industry expert reactions, but it only tells part of the story, as it focused mostly on pricing.
There are four types of traveler using hotel broadband:
1) Vacation and Leisure
2) Kids and Teens
3) Travel Industry Professionals (airline, cruiseline, etc.)
4) Business Traveler
For the vacation traveler connecting to get information, light use will more and more translate to wanting free or almost free access. They'll use it to check email, stay in touch with friends, possibly upload photos, surf the web for information or to check flight schedules. Their bandwidth consumption is light.
Kids and teens use the Internet to stay in touch with their friends via Instant Messaging, check email and possibly download music or videos. Unless they're never leaving the room or hotel, their usage is moderate.
The travel industry professional will use the Internet to manage their activities, stay in touch with colleagues, make changes to travel plans, surf for local information, and likely is a moderate to heavy user of email. Their usage is moderate to light heavy.
The business traveler is the heavy user. They need to "stay connected" and the room is their office on the go. Downloading and uploading of large files, heavy email usage, Instant Messaging, voice calls, conference calling are all a part of their day (and night) and they require not only solid speeds, but a reliable connection.
As someone who falls into category 4, the business traveler, I'm not opposed to paying for quality bandwidth and connectivity. But, I want the option of both Wired and Wireless connectivity. For example, in my hotel apartment this week in London at the Metropolitan the wireless coverage goes from fair to poor depending where in the spacious and comfortable two bedroom apartment I'm located. Speeds were inconsistent and latency was high. I opted to switch to my own travel router and their wired connection and speeds went way up, latency went to near zero and the experience was like being in an office.
Too many properties fail in the last ten feet. For hotels and resorts, its not the amount of bandwidth that should be the only concern, nor how they charge for it. At the end of the day, it's the way the guest connects and how that makes the experience. If I used my wireless experience as the gauge here at the Metropolitan, I'd never stay here again. But using my Wired experience as the benchmark, and I know I'll return. It's the same way in most hotels I stay at. The wired connection usually blows away WiFi.My advice. Carry a travel router and a spare ethernet cable.