Thursday, April 22, 2004

WiFi Nettiquette

OK people, listen up, cause this is REAL IMPORTANT.

First, some background:
On the way to Academic Awards tonight Brittany and I stopped for supper at Panera Bread.

Proud Father's aside: Both my daughters are excellent students. Megan gave us reasons to attend the Academic awards multiple times. I have no doubt the same will be true w) Britt.
What can I say? All the experts agree: It's either heredity or environment... ;-)

(BTW, the new steak salad you have been hearing about on the radio is quite good. Recommended, especially for us low-carbers.)

On the way out the door I had a word with the Manager.

On my various searches for WiFi access here in the ShowMe state, I had noticed that ALL the Panera Bread locations in the St. Louis area had free WiFi, whereas we seemed to have NONE in KC.
Now, given the fact that Panera Bread was founded in St. Louis and was initially franchised as St. Louis Bread Co. I could see those locations being first to get some things, but this...

I told her, and I quote, "That we in KC the TRUE gateway to the West should be without this benefit was beyond belief. When exactly was this cultural travesty going to be addressed?" ;-)

In all seriousness, what she told me left me both shocked and appalled, though, I suppose, not that surprised.

She did explain that the free WiFi had been installed at the Plaza location. (For those not familiar, The Country Club Plaza is the original shopping center. Not just in Kansas City or even in Missouri. I mean when it was conceived and built in the 1920's it was the FIRST shopping area, designed and built just for that purpose. As the name would imply, it was in the middle of nowhere. Think of a Galleria with better architecture...)

Now, here is the REAL IMPORTANT part:

She went on to explain that it was not profitable.

Now, dear reader, well you may ask, how could this be?
Free WiFi is not a profit-center. It is designed to attract people to one's establishment, thus increasing your business through the increased traffic.

According to her, people were bringing in food from OTHER RESTAURANTS and using the Panera WiFi!

WHAT are these people THINKING? How RUDE have we become?

SOOOO, as this is the premiere WiFi Blog on the 'Net, here are a few tips for those not versed in the obvious:

Do you really want to pay $9 a day or some exorbitant monthly fee that many other national chains are charging? No, I thought not.

So class, how do we encourage more reasonable pricing? Lead them to the truth and light of how access ought to be?
That's right! We SUPPORT companies like Panera, who recognize the potential of FREE access on their bottom line.

We thank any establishment who is enlightened enough to offer us access, be they individual small business or nation-wide chain. We not only commend them verbally, we leave a tip in any jar ear-marked to keeping access free.

And most of all, we BUY SOMETHING while we are there!

In the long-run, I think that the daily and monthly fee will go to a more reasonable per-use fee.
The NYC McDonald's model is a pre-cursor, buy a meal and get an hour of access.

I have no problems with usage fees. That's the way everything should work. I just don't like exorbitant fees. As I stated above, many businesses recognize the positive effect on the bottom-line.

And I think more and more establishments will offer free access and see their profits more than compensate the modest investment as high-speed connections and cheaper addess point costs fall. Our best friend, competition will make it necessary. And in the process they will develope something that doesn't appear on any ledger sheet, but is more precious than gold.

Loyal repeat customers.

As to this other non-sense, there is little I can think of that will make free access disappear faster.
(JEEZ, didn't their Mothers teach them anything?)

So, once again, repeat after me:

It's free WiFi, but you still have to buy.