Meeting Martin: Fawlty Towers

Good news! You may recall – and I’m sure you do – that a few months ago I was in Barcelona and complained about the medieval Wi-Fi. My written complaint was, in a manner of speaking, well received. The MD of the Gran Fira was so cross about the Wi-Fi’s general woefulness that he ordered a crack team to the centre that day to investigate. What the outcome was I don’t recall, but I do remember no one in the press centre offering to make me a cup of tea.

So here I am in Frankfurt at IMEX and I have just completed Day 1. It fills me with gusto to report that Messe Frankfurt’s Wi-Fi is…

Drum roll…

…All very rather good. There is regular, and fast. There is also a dedicated press only one that is better than my hardwire connection at work. It’s a Wi-Fi enthusiast’s paradise.

However, in our nearby hotel things aren’t so rosy. First of all you should know that I am typing this last night because I can’t access the Wi-Fi in the room. While I am told that the wireless miracle is actually rather good, the reason I can’t get on it is hysterical.

I am sharing a room with a colleague and he checked into the room before me. He, as you do the moment you enter a hotel room, latched on to the Wi-Fi and generally made merry in cyberspace. I arrived a short time later only to discover that only one device may be used per room, per day. One device.

Now, see here. I’ve seen stinginess on an industrial scale in most walks of life. From former bosses who pay a shilling a day; I’ve seen fast food counter jockeys provide only one napkin when clearly several are needed; I have even witnessed a single sugar lump offered to someone who wants to sweeten their tea. But a ‘one device, one room’ policy in a hotel is a first.

What’s more is that there is a limit of only 500mb per day. If you’re not up to speed on internet figures, 500mb isn’t very much at all. My roomie and I want to watch videos of dogs on skateboards on YouTube, but that will rinse the allowance in five minutes.

Sharing is also not permitted. We thought that if one of us disconnected our phone from the Wi-Fi, the other – me – would be able to connect my laptop. No. As spiteful and as vindictive as whatshername from Dynasty, ‘one device, one room’ still applies. Rigorously.

This means that should my roomie vacate the room and leave me alone, he will have taken the virtual portal to cyberspace with him. He won’t be able to use it anywhere else in Frankfurt. I, on the other hand, will be forced to sit in the room with BBC World on in the background, reading the room service menu over and over again. Helpless, like a lame roe deer.

What strikes me as odd is that we are very much in the business region, a five minute walk from Messe Frankfurt, and a short drive from the airport. And, of course, we have a twin room. There are two beds, for two people. Two people that will in all probability be checking in each with a smartphone and a laptop or tablet. That requires four Wi-Fis.

How on God’s Green Earth does the ‘one room, one device’ policy make sense to its creator? I will point out that I have used this hotel chain before and not experienced this bonkers policy – it seems unique to this one. For the life of me I can’t get my head around it.

I have just turned around to see that my roommate is asleep. His phone dormant, unused, inactive. Yet it is the only vortex to skateboarding dogs and I am totally powerless to do anything.

So, in the best traditions of anyone from the 1950s I shall now do something bold and unusual. I will read the book. Unfortunately, the only reading material I have is the room service menu, which is in German. And which I can’t read. Or Google Translate.

A business hotel – which this absolutely is – should tailor its policies to suit its guest’s needs. We live in an age where we are connected all the time. We must check our emails every minute, we must ensure we know the schedule for our trip, we must Tweet a picture of where we are at that precise moment. It’s exhausting.

You know what, I’m glad I’m not on the Wi-Fi. I’m going out for a walk. If only I could get online to find out where would be interesting.

Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

Martin Fullard

Author

Martin Fullard

Martin Fullard: journalist, presenter, producer. Martin is the Deputy Editor at Conference News and Conference & Meetings World magazines. He leads the digital channels on Mash Media’s Conference Division as well as heading up Mash TV. He is formerly a web editor at a national newspaper in the Middle East and motoring journalist.

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