Pas d’accord with the Accor Hotel internet policy

On my recent trip to beautiful Sydney, AUS, I stayed at the Pullman Hotel at Olympic Park.  Pullman is one of the higher end chains of the Accor Group (which also owns Sofitel, Novotel, Ibis and more), where I am a Gold Level client.  This Sydney Pullman is a fine establishment with a good overall service mentality.  However, I consider internet access as part of the service offering (am I crazy?).  And we had a wee problem, Houston.

Hotel’s internet access offering

Here is what the Pullman Hotel at Sydney Olympic Park offered me with my room:

  • 24 hours Accor Pullman Accor, The Myndset digital marketing strategy2 hours for $12.50 (AUS) or 100MB
  • 24 hours for $26.50 (AUS) or until 400MB. “After you have reached 400MB, you will have the choice of paying $0.10 per MB to transfer more data at maximum speed or having your connection speed slowed without incurring additional charges.”    It turns out that the “slow” plan expires at 1,000MB.

Not that I was particularly chuffed to see the price for the daily fee, but I signed up for 24 hours.  I did not pay much attention to the 400MB limit, thinking that for my purposes (email and downloading a few attached files), 400MB would be more than enough.  It turns out that even 1,000MB wasn’t enough!  Judging by the wording on the sign-up form (right), this same policy is being implemented at the neighboring Novotel and Ibis (part of the Accor Group).

How wrong was I?

Oh, and I was so wrong.

First, there are all the automatically updating sites, such as Twitter, Facebook, BCC that were open in my browser… Secondly, I plugged in my iPhone and iPad to syncrhonize with iTunes.  The newest podcasts needed uploading, of course.  There were also 5 apps needing updating.  I had not even been online for two hours that I was informed that I had surpassed the 400MB limit.  I was flabbergasted.  Already?  I complained to the front desk, but I had omitted one key concept.

The culprit? The Cloud

Clear blue sky clouds, The myndset digital marketing and brand strategyBetween the images and files on my iphoto and ipad, which are automatically synchronized in the iCloud as well as all the documents and files that are synchronized in Dropbox, there was a whole lot of data being uploaded in the ‘back office’.  Without blinking an eye, I realized the errors in my assumption.  And, I understood just as quickly how un-up-to-date the Accor policy is.  My suggestion: add a word of warning to customers to un-link cloud syncing services!

 The why in the fi?

To add to my woes, I discovered that the hotel room internet deal is device-specific.  In other words, I could only use the laptop on which I had signed up.  If I wanted to connect with my ipad and/or iphone, there would be seperate fees.  How many of you have more than one device, these days?  Especially the international traveler in a higher end hotel?  I would argue that I am not alone in needing at least two connected devices.  I note that the hotel provides 30 minutes free wifi in the lobby (good for one room, but only one device in one straight thirty-minute session) over a 24-hour period.  I can understand that Accor is looking to find new sources of revenue and to limit the bandwidth issues, but it would seem that this current policy is rather excessive.  Your thoughts?

I am hoping Accor will consider listening to this minor rant — even come and participate?  Maybe that would be the name of a new film: iDream!  In the meantime, watch out for the small print and the data being transfered into the cloud.

Post Scriptum (pre-publication): I was given the opportunity to express myself directly to the IT man in charge of these Accor properties.  And to his great credit, he listened earnestly and re-credited the internet charges.  Thanks for listening!  It is, after all, a learning process.

For those interested in my other articles on hotels, you can find them here:

 

  • John Milton

    Minter,

    This really made me laugh, because I've been through similar situations elsewhere. The trouble is that these chains are in fact managed by digital morons. They sure found out how lucrative implementing a fidelity reward program could be to increase their occupancy rate (the crux for the hotel industry) but don't realize that once the customers has arrived, he should be allowed to maintain his or her cruising speed, which is dictated by their individual lifestyles.

    I had a similar experience in the Novotel Chain in Africa, where I stayed for a while and finally managed to convince the local management that giving a free WI-Fi to the guest was lucrative for the bar business as well.

    I truly think that the star rating business should be looking into this. Offering WI-Fi is not enough for a 5, 4 or 3+ star hotel anymore. the friendliness in its use is what counts. Totally agree with your statement and was happy to read that you were refunded, but what about the others who did not complain. This WI-Fi approach is similar to the room telephone service of the past., where hotels would charge you an arm and a leg to use the convenience of their phone…till internet came along and took that business away.

    Have a nice day.

    John

    • http://themyndset.com Minter Dial

      John,

      I LOVE that idea that the friendly (free?) wifi access should be a part of the rating system! After all, at some point soon, everything will be internet accessible. And you are so right that the hotel experience needs to be a seamless extension of our personal / business lives… Well said.

  • Stephen Gresty

    I feel very strongly about this "added cost" of staying in top hotels . Having recently returned from Turkey following a vacation , free wifi is free almost anywhere you visit in and around the Icmeler area. Imagine my huge disappointment when I returned to the UK and chose a Hilton City hotel wifi is £14 for 24 hours !!!!!!! Their sister hotel Hilton @ Doubletrees which is £10 per night less to stay and is only 300 metres away , wifi is completely free . Guess where I will be staying next time . I have just returned from the Four Seasons Hotel in Mumbai , fab hotel, great staff . Spoilt the whole experience by having to pay approx £60 for wifi for the week …… It's wrong !

    • http://themyndset.com Minter Dial

      Hi Stephen, reading you, I get the feeling that there ought to be a special segment on TripAdvisor focusing on this. If you use TA, they do have a "Free High-Speed Internet" tagging… It is part of the search criteria… but, it should also be a question along with bed size, smoking-free!

  • David
    • http://themyndset.com Minter Dial

      Hi David,

      That 2006 article does put a good spin on how hotels must figure out their pricing… but the notion of "options" is an evolving one. I am sure that there was a time when having a private bathroom in the room was a luxury as opposed to a shared option. TV is now barely considered an option. As mentioned by John above, the issue with wifi is that it is part of the daily lives of the vast number of travelers. Hotels that are slower to recognize will feel the pinch on the margin as people chose not to pay for it and/or choose alternative hotels (see Stephen). I have the same experience these days — at times — in choosing my restaurant or a cafe.

  • ND Badrinath

    There is this hotel in Mumbai which, during the old days when hotels charged an arm and a leg for telephone calls, debited guests with service provider rates even for international calls – no surcharge. Guess how many pleasantly surprised guests spread the word around!

    And now there are humble non-5-star places – too few and far between – that do the same with wi-fi access. How much would these establishments save on advertising on account of the positive WOM?

    Until others give up their short-sighted policy on wi-fi access, this is a simple way to generate repeat custom and brand advocacy.

    Serve with a smile, keep the F&B top-rate and provide simple delights – back to the basics!

    • http://themyndset.com Minter Dial

      Excellent ND. Let's keep spreading the word, eh!

  • yendi

    Completely agree with Stephen, we are charged extras in super chic hotels, I would rather stay in a less fancy place than having to deal with nonsense, limiting wifi hotel policies.

    • http://themyndset.com Minter Dial

      with you, my dear!

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