I went to the Hilton Riverside last week for a CLE seminar, and I was able to confirm the presence of free Wi-Fi in the First Floor Bar & Coffee shop area. It’s not publicized for some reason, but it’s there.
While I was using my laptop a doctor who was there for a meeting of arthroscopic surgeons asked me about my 12″ Powerbook. We wound up talking and he learned that I was using a Wi-Fi connection and got really excited. He opened up his laptop and was ecstatic to be able to access his E-mail. Like I said, I don’t know why the hotel wouldn’t publicize the presence of Wi-Fi in places like this. And I also don’t know why they don’t put Wi-Fi in the Meeting Rooms.
I’m sure one fear is that if they put free Wi-Fi in those areas then people won’t pay for the high speed connection in the room. I don’t think that’s true. Some people might not pay, but I’ll bet those few lost sales would more than be made up for by the overall enhancement of the “guest experience” that those with Wi-Fi enabled laptops would enjoy. People with Wi-Fi laptops are more likely to make their decision about where to stay based on the presence of Wi-Fi. At least that’s true for me.