Hotels that charge a surcharge for wireless internet access are the worst, though this does seem to be currently the norm. You pay at least $100 a night for a room, and you’ve gotta slap another $20 bucks a day on top of that just for the privilege of checking your Gmail? Not to mention, goodness knows what is happening behind the scenes with your DHCP settings every time you have to punch in your credit card number on that bogus hotel login screen.
So here’s a thought…since we all agree that this is obnoxious, why not offset the $9 bag of cashews you ate from the minibar by setting up your own miniature, for-profit, wireless internet service provider, right from the comfort of your own hotel room?
The concept is pretty simple. Pair your Verizon Wireless or Sprint EVDO card with the amazing enterprise-grade TGMB-8000 wireless router, and boom, instant hotspot for your travelling neighbors. But oh no, you’re not doing this for charity. You’re doing it for pay. Simply set up your network with an SSID something along the lines of “$5_WIFI_ACCESS_646_555_0012,” and watch the hundreds of Internet hungry businessmen all around you come calling.
You could also consider posting your room number, but sooner or later someone from the hotel is going to sweep for available networks and will likely not be too excited about your little venture. Accept cash, or, if you want to keep it completely anonymous, set up a PayPal account so you can receive credit card payments. The TGMB-8000 router will support up to 10 user accounts with their own user IDs and passwords, so when the calls start coming in, give people their unique account info. Price it right, and you may find your hotel room paid for.
Of course, a few notes:
- This is likely wildly against the Terms of Service agreements you have with your wireless provider. I find it very unlikely they would figure it out, though, and even if they do? Pfff, there’s plenty of other providers out there. You’re not going to pay a contract termination fee if THEY kill YOUR account.
- The key to making this profitable is maximum exposure of your little SSID message. In this area, room choice is key. Try and get a room which faces a courtyard or other rooms, rather than the street or the pool.
- Want to make the whole thing completely automatic and anonymous? Direct your customers to a web page you have set up with a payment redirect option. The user punches in their credit card info, and is immediately redirected to a page with their login info. This can be very easily set up via PayPal, as well.
It’s just that simple! Sure, you may not cover the cost of your entire stay (unless you are staying at a Comfort Inn, but then those cheapskate other guests probably don’t have laptops or know what the Internet is), but if you can cut the bill in half while sticking it to The Man? Sounds like a win/win.