One of the major sources of irritation for many hotel guests is the practice by some hotels, primarily in full-service properties catering to business and high-end leisure travelers, to charge guests access fees for Wi-Fi. The practice is especially grating because many hotels, especially among roadside chains, include free access for guests to Wi-Fi and even advertise it as a reason for staying there. By contrast some hotels are known to charge $25 to $30 or more for access. In each hotel category, however, competitors can be found charging little or nothing for Wi-Fi.
A 2009-2010 study of 53,000 hotel guests published by the consumer research firm J.D. Powers & Associates found free wireless internet (Wi-Fi) access was rated the number one most desired amenity of guests. It ranked well ahead of other desired amenities such as free breakfast, choice of pillows and bedding, or free parking in virtually all price levels of hotel competition. It is easy to find a host of travel bloggers sharply critical of hotels that charge Wi-Fi access fees.
There are now online services responding to this issue by monitoring hotels for how much, if anything, they charge for Wi-Fi access. These services make no secret of their objective to put competitive pressure on hotels to provide Wi-Fi access for free by enabling potential guests to find those hotels that don't charge and avoid those hotels that do. The online publication "Business Insider" published its "Ultimate List of Hotels with Free Wi-Fi" in February 2011 here. And the hotel blog "Hotelchatter.com" last April published its 2010 Wi-Fi Chart, which shows both hotels that charge and those that don't. Find the chart here and start checking with Hotelchatter next month (April) to look for the 2011 version. The answer to the question, "why put up with hotel Wi-Fi access charges?" is that you don't have to anymore when you consult a chart to find a free-access hotel.