How Hotels Like @sheratonhotels Disrespect Bloggers

Posted on December 6, 2012

I just logged in, err… I mean, “arrived at” the Sheraton Hotel in Boston.

I was greeted by a friendly front desk receptionist who checked me into my room. As she was processing my information she asked if I had a computer with me. “In fact, I do” I told her. She went on to explain how the Sheraton Hotel has free wifi in the lobby. “That’s great” I said, “but I don’t sleep in the lobby. What about in my room?” She responded with, “Wifi in your room cost, $12.”

“Why not give me free wifi in my room?” I said, a bit upset that the Sheraton doesn’t offer complimentary wifi. You know what her answer was? Simply, “The Sheraton doesn’t do that”.

Guess what… That’s a huge problem for me. I don’t want to watch your TV, and I don’t want to talk on your phone. I bring my own computer, tablet and phone, but in order for them to work well, I need Wifi, and I find it unacceptable that an industry built around convenience and lifestyle accommodations doesn’t consider Internet access as part of the room package.

INTERNET IS NOT A LUXURY, IT’S A NECESSITY!

Especially for bloggers! By not including Interntet in our stay you’re either taking advantage, or you don’t recognize Internet based business as legit. Either way it’s disrespectful for those who need the Internet. I’ll repeat it… Especially for bloggers!

Will Social Media Save the Day?

The very first thing I did when I got into my “disconnected” room was tweet @sheratonhotels from my room. They were quick to respond, and a few interactions later they located my reservation and asked for my email address to follow up. Great, except I never got an email.

Influencers, Your Time Has Come!

I’m not joking when I say, “Bloggers are the celebrities of the Internet” And the thing about celebrities is they have the ability to influence the behavior of others. Just ask President Obama if Clooney and Oprah played an important role in his elections.

Now when you have influencers using your service, you (Sheraton Hotel) need to take the time to understand who they are, and what their needs are. In my case, I need Internet access, and shouldn’t have to pay $12/day ($4,380) a year for it. You want your hotel rooms to resemble a night’s stay in my house, then include Wifi. Take away your tiny TV with it’s confusing remote control, and your antique telephone, and give me Internet access so I can use my laptop and tablet to get work done.

How hard is it to cross reference your guest information with their Facebook account to see if they are a blogger, or if they work an online industry like SEO, or maybe they love sharing pics on Instagram. These people need Internet more than they need a sample of body lotion.

Repent and Change

  1. Pay attention to who your guests are and what they need
  2. Monitor social media outlets
  3. Follow through with customer service
  4. Identify influencers and treat them special

Use your voice

If you agree that companies like Sheraton need to get real, and stop adding fees for Internet access, join me in a tweet:

These thoughts are my own, and in no way reflect those of my employer.

If you’ve got thoughts of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments below.


17 Replies to "How Hotels Like @sheratonhotels Disrespect Bloggers"

  • Kati R.
    December 6, 2012 (1:36 pm)
    Reply

    Maybe it’s time to change hotels when you travel. We usually use Hampton Inn or Hyatt Place which are smaller hotels, but very friendly. And with FREE wi-fi. Not just in the lobby. I usually check if the hotel has wi-fi in the rooms before making a reservation. And I’m not an Oprah fan, but her name is misspelled you might want to correct it.

    • Dan Cristo
      December 7, 2012 (3:09 pm)
      Reply

      In this particular case it was part of a group reservation that my company made on my behalf. In the future I’ll probably look to see if the hotel has free wifi.

      Honestly, I wouldn’t have cared at all if the room was $12 more and wifi was free. If that was the case it would make comparing the “total price” of a hotel room easier.

      I’ll just take your advice and will stay at a Hampton or Hyatt in the future.

  • JenniferB
    December 6, 2012 (5:33 pm)
    Reply

    1.) Bloggers are not the celebrities of the Internet. An important resource for sharing information and critical comms tool to reach audiences, but don’t confuse that will blanket-wide celeb status. It’s like saying the 20,000 unnamed extras in movies are celebrities.

    2.) Yes, it is a lot of work for them to cross-reference every reservation with every social channel to see who might be “worthy” of free Internet access. If paying for wifi is a “disrespectful” practice, then it is to everyone who needs it – not just bloggers.

    3.) Do you stay in a hotel every night of the year? Providing that number is inflammatory.

    I hate paying for Internet, and say as much on my social channels when traveling. It seems like a bad policy for business travelers, who probably spend the most money with the hotel. Had this been a call to action and not a self-serving, self-important, entitlement monologue, it would have been sharable. (Also, this is Sheraton’s business decision. We can stay somewhere else.)

    • Dan Cristo
      December 7, 2012 (3:05 pm)
      Reply

      I’m not saying that ever blogger is an A-list celebrity, but within every industry there are celebrities, and online those celebrities are bloggers. It’s ok if you can’t see that right now, but the landscape is changing, and the perception of what a blogger is will change dramatically over these next few years.

      No, it’s not a lot of work to cross reference guests. Use an API to match guest information with FB info, then do whatever you can to make their stay better based on the info. If you know your guest is an athlete, give them a room close to the gym. Stop defending lazy companies who refuse to innovate.

      I do believe it’s a little disrespectful to everyone who needs Internet access, but I call out bloggers because they make their living online, as do SEOs. I happen to be both. Maybe others wouldn’t complain, but I feel like geting work done was a real inconvenience at this hotel, so I won’t stay there in the future. If you were the hotel, wouldn’t you rather know that people why people are internally blacklisting your hotel?

      No, I don’t stay in a hotel every night, but that doesn’t mean the number is inflammatory. When you buy a package of nuts, you pay a “price per pound”. You don’t have to buy every single nut the company makes, you only buy what you need, but you’re still paying the price per pound. The same works for Internet access. Even though I’m not using it 365 days a year, I’m paying the “price per pound” of Internet access that cost over $4k/yr. I pointed that out to show that the Sheraton isn’t just trying to cover their costs with wifi, they are making a substantial profit, because they are charging several times more than what Internet access typically costs a consumer.

      I know it’s the Sheraton’s business decision, but that doesn’t mean we have to sit back and take it. Because of the Internet, consumers have the power to decide which businesses stay in business. Right now I’m letting them know what my choice for the Sheraton is. It’s up to them to change their business or not.

      • Ken
        December 9, 2012 (4:58 pm)
        Reply

        First off, I have never heard of you before today and I spend a lot of time online. That doesn’t say much for the celeb status that you are trying to claim for yourself.

        Secondly, if this were a work related thing as you indicate, does your employer not reimburse certain expenses? Would this not be something that they should reimburse, and if so they might make your travel arrangements through facilities that have the tools you need instead of paying for each employee’s expenses. If hotels/motels start losing business because of lack of wifi then just maybe it will be free for all of us…not just those who claim to be celebs.

        • Dan Cristo
          December 10, 2012 (3:59 am)
          Reply

          I’m not an A-list celebrity. Nor am I a B or C or F list. I’m probably ZZ if I had to rank myself. But then again, within the circle of people who read my blog and follow me on Twitter I have a level of influence. Not much, but a little.

          I could have expensed the wifi without a problem. I didn’t write the post because I couldn’t afford or attain wifi, I wrote it because there is a principle here that hotels like the Sheraton doesn’t seem to get. The principle is that Internet access has moved from the luxury category into the necessity category, so charing a premium for wifi on top of an expensive room is just excessive, now matter if I, or my company pays.

          I’m down for all of us getting free (included in hotel room price) wifi. I just think companies in general should go out of their way to create amazing experiences for influencers because it’s good marketing.

  • Nathan Greenberg
    December 6, 2012 (10:41 pm)
    Reply

    As much as I would like free WiFi in every room for blogging or other business activity, should I also be upset at my cell provider for not having a “full-bars” 4G signal in my room? But cell service aside, let’s explore this from Sheraton’s POV. Most guests don’t demand (or need) WiFi, so they offer it as an extra amenity for $12/day. This allows them to remain more competitive on their room price while offering an amenity for those who need it. I doubt the Sheraton would see a return on investment inside a decade for the millions of dollars necessary to get strong WiFi in all their hotel rooms.

    • Dan Cristo
      December 7, 2012 (2:52 pm)
      Reply

      Hi Nathan,
      Yes, it’s going to cost the Sheraton money to offer free wifi, but it costs them money to put a TV in every room as well. They do that because providing access to entertainment is considered the “norm” for the hotel industry.

      We’re moving into a day and age where accessing the Internet for free is considered the “norm” in most places. You can free wifi at work, at Starbucks and in many major cities.

      What would have happend if someone at Starbucks is like, “I doubt we’ll see a ROI inside a decade for the millions of dollars it’ll cost us to give free wifi to our customers”. Knowing what we know now we’d laugh at them, because we know that offering free wifi has driven their business.

      Other hotels give free wifi to their guest, and now the Sheraton is at risk of losing customers who prefer to stay in hotels that offer free wifi.

  • EyeTravelForWorkToo
    December 7, 2012 (1:58 pm)
    Reply

    You are a bit self-absorbed, I think. “especially for bloggers”? I almost spit out my Cheerios when I read that. Yes, the world is better with bloggers than without them. Yes, that means it is a good service, generally speaking, for society.

    Yes, I realize some people earn their entire living off of blogging and it can impact their business if they can’t access the internet. So what? Pay the friggin’ $12 or stay someplace else. If you’re blog is so important that you need to be able to post something right-the-hell-now, the $12 should be easy to justify. Or type it in your room and walk down to the lobby. Or to Panera. Or get hotspot service for your cell phone. Or, again, stay someplace else.

    • Dan Cristo
      December 7, 2012 (2:47 pm)
      Reply

      You’re missing the point, eyetravelforworktoo.

      This isn’t about the ability to access the Internet, it’s about hotels not understanding the needs of their customers.

      My work, entertainment and communication needs are online. Sure, I could do without work, entertainment or communication, but that would be a pretty lousy experience.

      I could go down to the lobby to work, be entertained and communicate, but that is a bit annoying since I paid a few hundred bucks for a private room.

      I could pay an additional $12 charge, but I already paid for a room that is supposed to meet my basic needs for the night.

      The way I see it, paying additional for wifi is like paying additional for a bed pillow. Sure I don’t NEED it. Sure I could ball up some clothes, sure I could sleep in the lobby or buy a pillow for a local store. But I’m paying a lot of money for a great night sleep, and a pillow is part of that for me.

      Self-absorbed? Hardly. I see the changing needs of customers, and I think it’s a service to the Sheraton to shine some light on it so they can improve their accommodations for future guests.

  • david k waltz
    December 7, 2012 (3:15 pm)
    Reply

    In my experience the higher up the “food chain” you go the more unlikely it is that wi-fi is free. Stay at a Fairfield Inn? Your room is cheap and wi-fi is free. Stay at a Ritz-Carlton (also part of Marriott now)? Your room is expensive and you pay for wi-fi.

    You’d think it would be the reverse – higher room rates you get more stuff thrown in, but it’s not the case.

    I think it has to do with relative degree – if you can afford the Ritz a measly $12 doesn’t mean anything, so you don’t think twice about spending it, wheras if you are staying at the Fairfield all $’s are precious.

    • Dan Cristo
      December 7, 2012 (3:30 pm)
      Reply

      Yep. I agree.

      It’s counter intuitive, but it makes perfect sense when viewed through the, “how can I extract the most money out of consumers” lens.

  • Caroline
    December 7, 2012 (5:08 pm)
    Reply

    Dan, you said “You [Sheraton Hotels] want your hotel rooms to resemble a night’s stay in my house, then include Wifi.” I say, if you want a more homely and personal experience, why are you giving your bucks to the big guys?

    I note that in this case your stay was part of a group booking made by others, but I’m sure that generally you’ll get a far better service from the small independents.

    P.S. We, like many other UK B&Bs offer free WiFi in guest rooms.

    • Dan Cristo
      December 7, 2012 (5:18 pm)
      Reply

      Hi Caroline,
      I’m a fan of small independents. Most of my travel is for conferences and business meetings, so distance to the venue and airport usually determines where we stay. That said, if there are multiple options I’ll choose the one who gives me the best service and experience.

      I think in a lot of cases independents do provide a better experience because they listen to the needs of their customers, and are willing to react faster to the changing world we’re in.

  • Jen
    December 9, 2012 (6:49 am)
    Reply

    It seems you criticize the hotels ability to understand your industry while clearly you do not understand theirs.

    Your self serving rant demanding wifi to being available to “blogger celebrities” is not the means by which it will suddenly become free at all hotels.

    It should be noted that being a frequent brand loyal customer would also gain you perks such as comp wifi. You’ll gain true “celebrity” status when you actually travel frequently and become a rewarded customer by a hotel chains whom value your loyalty.

    • Dan Cristo
      December 10, 2012 (4:06 am)
      Reply

      HI Jen,
      Thanks for your comment.

      One of the first things the Sheraton tried to do when they contacted me about this post as get me enrolled in their loyalty program.

      Look, I understand how loyalty programs, and the gamification behind them. They are of course designed to make you spend more money with the hotel. Rather than playing their game, I’d rather they play mine, and my game is, “Personalize the experience of your customers and they will love you”.

      I would like to see wifi offered to blogger celebrities. I’d like to see free food offered to foodies, and special access to the hotel gym offered to traveling sports teams.

      Yes, we all need wifi, and I’m for that too, but the point of my post was that it’s now possible to know who your customer is and what the like before the check-in, so you can personalize their experience for them.

      I also think it’s good marketing to reward influencers, so that’s a baby step they can employ today while they work out the financials of free wifi to everyone.

  • Jen
    March 12, 2013 (8:13 pm)
    Reply

    Sheraton and other big name hotel brands totally get that internet businesses are legit — that’s why they get away with $12+/day for it! Many of their clients are business travelers and guess who pays their bills? Their employers. Not agreeing that it’s right or wrong to charge for internet. It is what it is and it seems to be working for them. Smaller independent chains seem to offer free wifi and that’s where I bring my business…


Got something to say?

Some html is OK