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Travel Tip: Free vs. Paid Wi-Fi

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Quick, what’s the most important thing for you when it comes to a hotel room? If you said wireless Internet, you’re not alone. A new study from the Global Business Traveler Association Foundation and Cambria Suites reports that free Wi-Fi in a hotel room is second only to having a comfortable bed.

Now here’s the bad news. Hotels KNOW how important Internet is to travelers…so they charge for it. Another study from the American Hotel and Lodging Association reports that more hotels are now charging for in-room Internet access. The survey found that 23 percent of hotels charge for Internet, up from 15 percent 4 years ago.

To add insult to injury, it’s often the expensive hotels that are charging—they figure their customers can afford it, or have expense accounts.

The only counterbalance is that more hotels have computers in the lobbies with free Internet. Not exactly the place I like to get my work done.

Now on the positive side, more hotels are starting to throw in perks like free breakfast—especially at the midscale chain hotels. And hey, those are also the guys who put a coffeemaker in your room. So if it’s value you’re after, it’s often those mid-price hotels that make the experience a whole lot more worthwhile.

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