by Esther Schindler

Internet Access in the Land of the One Tree Incident

Aug 22, 20072 mins
Enterprise Applications

I unexpectedly found myself driving cross-country this week, following the old Santa Fé trail. Our route took us through tiny towns, such as Dalhart, Texas and Pratt, Kansas—towns whose welcome signs always included their momentary claims to fame, from a “historic round barn” to Dorothy’s house (pre-Oz) to the world’s biggest hand-dug well in sad Greensburg (recently destroyed by a tornado). We blew through one town whose historical marker described The One Tree Incident, and 459 miles later I’m still wishing I’d stopped to read the sign.

Every town has a motel, a gas station, a diner and an earnest hope that you’ll stop and spend just a little money. And every one of those motels advertises free Internet access.

Originally, I was supposed to be at the CIO 100 this week. I can’t speak to the resort’s amenities, but if it was like most resort/conference hotels, the room charge didn’t include Internet access. They often get you for $12.95 a day; at least, that was the fee at the hotel where I attended the DEMO conference in February. (And that’s sidestepping the tangent about lousy WiFi access in most conference meeting rooms.)

Isn’t there something wrong here? If a $39 Atlasta Motel in the dusty Texas panhandle can afford to include Internet access, why doesn’t a luxury resort (who’s already charging upwards of $200/night) include the same thing? Or at least roll it into the room price? Certainly, most business travelers will use the Internet service. The extra charge makes me feel as though I’m being nickled-and-dimed, which is especially inappropriate given the relatively high rates at conference hotels.

—Esther, writing from Jefferson City, Missouri, and headed right back on the road west… though not through Dalhart this time.