Boingo. Think of it as a Marketing Partner.

Published September 11, 2010   permalink

Arriving in my room at the Sheraton in New York (228 Duffield, Brooklyn) i opened my laptop and up popped the trusty Boingo "Hotspot Here" connection app. However, it failed to connect, even after following the instructions exactly. (Find the Sheraton hot spot, connect, log in...). I called Boingo Customer Support, and was promptly greeted.

I explained the problem, and we concluded that the Sheraton no longer offered Boingo connectivity. Fortunately, my G1 covers my connectivity needs. Not about to pay $20 for a couple hours of access I finished my work using the G1 and went to sleep.

I woke up thinking "Hey, If I'd known that before I checked in....I would have selected a different hotel!"

Boingo, a couple of ideas:

1) Add a dynamic update service to your Hotspot finder, so that your customers can quickly see--while making reservations--if a particular hotel currently supports Boingo members;
2) Publish that list, market it, and turn that list into a reason for more hotels and locations to offer Boingo service. If a hotspot that I've used in the past six months is dropped from Boingo's supported sites, tell me about it. If a hotel drops its Boingo contract completely, create a pop-up alert for any Boigo customer who has checked in at a hotspot at any location of that hotel during the past six months.

It may sound like a stretch, but for many road warriors having a solid connection for $10/month instead of $20/night is a big factor that could be used in making lodging choices if that information were available. As for most of the major hotel chains, I'm not sure which playbook they're currently reading from but free WiFi in their own lower-priced properties (See: this list) sends a really contradictory message. Boingo, you can actually help them fix this: Instead of $20 per night, they could offer thier guests instant Boingo signups. Teaching guests to be smarter travelers might encourage them to stay more often.

As always, Boingo, I appreciate what you do. Continue to innovate, and keep on rocking.



Reader's Comments

Dave,

Thanks for taking the time to write down these great ideas for Boingo. The scenario you describe would make for a great customer experience, especially given that many customers—like you—select their hotels based on whether or not those hotels are Boingo hotspots.

As you know, a large majority of our network comprises roaming locations, i.e., they are hotspots owned and operated by other service providers with whom we have partnered. The end benefit is that users don’t have to pay multiple service providers at different hotspots; they can simply use their Boingo account to “roam” or connect to the partner service provider’s hotspot.

The one downside to roaming locations is that Boingo isn’t always the first to know when a partner has chosen to no longer support certain hotspot—sometimes, there is a lag between the site being disabled and when such an event is logged into our location directory. In other words, we depend completely on our partners to provide this data to us. Short of that, experiences like yours arise.

We want to improve the process. Our Product team is examining various ways and scenarios as to how that may be done. Your suggestions are playing an integral role in our brainstorming.

Again, thank you so much for reaching out to us, taking the time to help us, and being a Boingo customer. It’s no fun for us to know about less-than-ideal customer experiences, and we’re all about fixing those the best we can.

If you have additional suggestion or comments, please feel free to reach out to me directly.

Best regards,
Baochi Nguyen

By Baochi Nguyen

Baochi-

Thanks for the great response. As another consideration, what if your end customers could log vacated hot spots directly into your system (with moderation/verification of course). Seems like that would reduce lag, and leverage information that customers already have.

Love your service—keep it up. wink

By Dave Evans

We are transitioning to Virgin Mobile’s MiFi - a portable hotspot that can provide wireless internet access for $40 a month.  The mifi is about the size a small stack of playing cards. Signal carries 30-40 feet radius.  We tried someone else’s MiFi and we happy with the speed and convenience.  Now we can choose to stay at any hotel or consider dropping Comcast. If we visit relatives without internet access, no problem.  I can be working on my computer while my husband is driving.  Santa bought my MiFi at Super Walmart for $149.

By Jen Lapietro