Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
CHAINS INSTALL WI-FI IN PUBLIC AREAS BUT BYPASS
Meeting Rooms Remain Hard-Wired
Lounge act: Logging on at the Hilton New York
Even as hotel chains tout new wireless Internet
access in public areas, they are slow to bring it to meeting rooms.
The exception is Dallas-based Wyndham International, which has
installed Wi-Fi (wireless fidelity) access throughout some 130
hotels. In addition, Wyndham has deployed a
tech-support/salesperson at nine properties.
David Riley, vice president of catering and conference services
for Wyndham, said wired and wireless connections cost the same.
Packages start at $120 a day in the meeting space and get cheaper
as more connections are needed.
Some chains that offer wireless access points called hot spots
in public spaces are providing them in meeting rooms on demand.
These include Beverly Hills, Calif.-based Hilton Hotels Corp. and
Irving, Texas-based Omni Hotels, which are now adding Wi-Fi at
select properties. Starwood Hotels & Resorts, based in White
Plains, N.Y., is rolling out wireless access in 150 Sheraton,
Westin and W hotels. Going wireless in meeting rooms that already
are hard-wired is not a priority for Omni, said telecommunications
manager Cary Schoppelrei. A Hilton spokesperson noted that requests
for Wi-Fi have been made for prefunction and other public spaces
and not for meeting rooms. Marriott International, in Bethesda,
Md., already has wireless access in 200 hotels and plans to install
it at 200 more this spring. Fairmont Hotels and Resorts of Toronto
has finished installing wireless hot spots in all 41 of its
Planners should beware, however, that wireless connections are
not very secure, said Bob Walters, a meetings technology expert in
Fair Oaks Ranch, Texas.
“On wireless networks, the routers should be set up with the
appropriate firewalls. However, if you set up a wireless router
strong enough to work in a conference hall, you have created a hot
spot; anyone with a wireless device could access the network and,
potentially, other devices connected to it,” said Walters.
• SARAH J.F. BRALEY
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