When you think about it, it’s really odd that the cheaper a hotel is, the more likely it’s likely to have free wifi, and the fancier it is, the more likely it is to have expensive WiFi.It’s not odd when you think about the concept of capturing consumer surplus, and also when you realise that hotel managers are probably often middle aged people who view wireless iInternet as a strange luxury, not a necessity of life like us. This would be like a hotel in the 19th century thinking it’s extravagant to ask for running water.
In any case, while we’re a bum, our wife is a high-powered management consultant, whose company just shipped to a foreign country on assignment for a few days. She researched the hotel online and was told that there would be free WiFi in the hotel lobby. In reality, the free WiFi turned out to be a single desktop computer hogged by other internet addicts. The wifi in the rooms goes for 10 euros an hour, or 18 a day (to compare, we pay something like 30 euros for a month of broadband internet + phone + TV) — an egregious ripoff.
So here is our wife’s suggestion for you entreprizing readers: set up dirt-cheap wifi hotspots right outside hotels. You could charge a buck a day, or maybe just show ads in a small frame above the webpage, or ask people to fill out a survey that gets you a lead-gen referral fee. We think that could be profitable at scale. The hotels would be mad — clients would access your network from inside the hotel, and the hotel would lose all the wifi money.
Maybe a big hotel chain will get angry and just buy you out. Maybe they will realise the error of their ways and stop charging for wifi, in which case you’ll go bankrupt. But you’ll go bankrupt knowing you’ve made the world better and disrupted an egregious, economically destructive, rent-seeking operation. And something tells me along the way you’ll have amassed tons of sympathy capital from hundreds of grateful executives and venture capitalists, who would love to give nice guys like you a hand in their next venture.
Think about it.
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