Travellers should boycott hotels that charge for WiFi connection, according to the editor of technology bible Wired UK.
Speaking at Abta Travel Convention in Palma, David Rowan expressed his dismay at being charged €18 for 24 hours connection at his hotel, only to find the service was too slow.
He had to upgrade his WiFi connection by paying an extra €6. He said: “It’s like being charged to have a bath run then getting in and its cold. Then you’re told if you want a hot bath it’s going to cost extra.”
Rowan said people now expect to be able to connect for free, citing complimentary services from high-street brands such as Starbucks and McDonalds.
In another conference session Doug McWilliams, founder of the Centre for Economic and Business Research, warned delegates that consumers are increasingly angry about stealth charges.
McWilliams said parts of the industry must move away from a “rip off image”.
“I do not think that consumers, when they are paying more in real terms, are going to put up with hidden charges,” he said.
“People are going to have their income squeezed and this is a permanent factor. People will go back to spending on holidays but on the other hand the travel industry is going to have to compete with other industries for its share of the consumer spend.
“Your product, compared to other product available, is going to become more expensive. Consumers are going to have to be more selective.”
Both McWilliams and Rowan urged companies to develop a mobile strategy, but Rowan also stressed the importance of a social strategy, telling delegates that peer-to-peer recommendations are happening in every sphere of business.
“The power has moved to the crowd,” he added. “You need to add value to the internet so that people don’t cut you out.”
Rowan cited WhipCar, a service that allows any car owner to hire out their vehicle, and Trippy, a travel planning and recommendation service driven by the user’s social media connections, as examples of how social start-ups are moving into the travel space.