Last year wasn’t the easiest for Marriott. First they received a lot of negative feedback after they placed tip envelopes in guest rooms. Things only got worse for the hotel giant when they were hit with a $600,000 fine from the FCC for blocking outside internet in their meeting room areas. This meant that the only available internet connection was through the hotel’s services at a cost of up to $,1000.
Instead of simply accepting the FCC fine, Marriott went on the offensive and defended their position, arguing it was a matter of protecting the security of their guests. What they never explained, however, is why this “protection” was necessary in their meeting rooms but not in their guest rooms.
Lining up in support of their argument was the Hilton chain, the American Hotel and Lodging Association, and internet equipment provider Cisco. On the other side were free market defenders – and sometimes strange bedfellows – Microsoft and Google.
Well, Marriott decided to back down. A little.
In the face of extreme criticism, Marriott announced that they will not block any Wi-Fi service. Also, they will not charge others who use an internet connection other than the hotel’s offering.
This does not mean they aren’t continuing the fight. Marriott still plans to request clarification from the FCC regarding what they can do to “protect customer data.” The only difference is that while awaiting a final FCC opinion, Marriott will join the rest of the hotel universe and allow all internet services without additional cost.