Quit Charging Guests for Internet Access

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I'm tired of upscale and luxury hoteliers trying to explain why it's necessary to charge guests for high-speed Internet access. I've never talked to a business traveler who at some point in the conversation doesn't bring up his or her hotel pet peeves, a list that's almost always headed by hotels charging for Internet access.

Well, you don't need to take my word for it, anymore. A new survey from D.K. Shifflet and Associates affirms my point of view: In a study of 400-plus business travelers, nearly 60 percent of them say they're more likely to return to a hotel if it offers free Internet service. Free parking was a close second, followed by sound-proof rooms, smoke-free facilities and free breakfast.

Some hotel companies are beginning to see the light, although in small measures. Yesterday, for example, Hilton said beginning next month top-tier members of its Hilton HHonors program will receive free HSIA at all hotels in the company's 10 brands. That's a start, but Hilton and every other hotel company need to institute free Internet now. Everyone mocks the airline industry for its new-found passion for nickel and dimeing customers. The hotel industry shouldn't fall into that trap.

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