Image by Moha' Al-Bastaki via FlickrOne thing that has long annoyed me is the widespread practice of charging hotel guests for Internet access. Apparently European hotels are starting to realise that this is not actually funny, clever or mature but here in the Middle East, every hotel I have visited so far has charged guests - typically Dhs100 per day or the equivalent. In Europe it's typically 20 Euro, in the UK £20 and even in the US up to $20.
And this despite the fact that access to the Internet is equivalent to the provision of a utility - some 47% of guests in surveys confirming that free Internet access was an influencer on their choice of hotel.
But it's not just the fact that they charge. It's how MUCH they charge.
At hotel rates, you're paying the equivalent of Dhs3,100 ($850) per month for Internet access. If you apply the common hotel markup of five times cost, you're still looking at Dhs620 ($169) a month.
To put that into perspective, Etisalat's most expensive BusinessOne Internet package, a 4Mbps access speed and unlimited usage, comes in cheaper at Dhs2795. And for one sixth of a hotel's charges for a month's worth of Internet, Etisalat will give you 4Mbps domestic Internet, telephone and television.
So here's a friendly hint for the UAE's hoteliers and, in fact, hoteliers the world over. Chaps, when Etisalat looks good in comparison to your business, it's time to rethink your business.