Need to send a few e-mails from your hotel room? You might want to wait before plugging in that laptop and going online. Chances are, you’ll end up spending nearly 50% more than if you made the same calls from home, says a spokesperson at Chervenak, Keane & Co., a New York-based hotel consulting firm. Laptop users who don’t have a local phone number to reach their Internet service provider while on the road are charged hotel rates for long distance. “Some people may be on line for three hours, sending and answering e-mail, and not realize that calling from their laptop is as expensive as making a call from the hotel room,” she says. Hotels typically charge the long-distance company’s highest operator-assisted call rate in addition to a surcharge of 25%-50%.
Before traveling, check with your Internet provider for numbers to use at your destination. You may also fare better using the hotel’s in-room Internet service. A few hotels, such as Best Western and Holiday Inn, offer Internet access via their in-room TV sets. Other hotels provide Internet access from their business centers. Fees vary. At Hilton Hotels, for instance, it costs $9.95 a day. Also check out the Internet kiosks that are popping up in hotel lobbies. Users swipe a credit card and are charged about 49 cents a minute.