Marriott: Free Internet At All Hotel Brands 'Inevitable'

To applause, Cornerstone Information Systems CEO Mat Orrego this week at The Masters Program said that as a traveler, he finds it annoying that all hotels don't offer free Internet access (we agree). David Marriott's take? It's still a money-maker but hoteliers will cave.
"Many of us are eagerly awaiting that day [when Internet is free at all hotel brands]," said Marriott International's regional vice president of market management for the Eastern region. "But it's tough. It's quite a revenue stream to turn away from entirely at this point. Given the economic environment we are facing, it makes it a little bit tougher to turn away from. None of our competitors are doing it with their full-service brands. We are all on the sidelines, waiting to see who flinches first in that area. It'll be interesting to see when that change occurs. It is inevitable."

Meanwhile, organizers of The Masters Program (which occurred at the J.W. Marriott property in Washington) told us that complimentary Internet access was not provided to attendees in the meeting facilities (three levels below the lobby) because it would have cost $120. So, we trekked up to the lobby, where we found Internet access offered by iBahn at $3.95 for the first 15 minutes and $0.25 for each minute thereafter. After trying and failing to send some time-sensitive emails, we left the hotel rather than spending time (at 25 cents per minute!) to re-configure our systems or attempting to find the appropriate staffer to help us. We instead found a free network across the street at a cafe where we promptly spent nearly $30 for lunch.