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Go on, have a billion pounds!

How every business person in the UK can save nearly £200 a year.

These are not the easiest times for British businesses. So here’s an idea: let’s give them £1.4 billion.

So how do you lay your hands on £1.4 billion? You could ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer. He’d tell you hasn’t got any money – but, as you’re here, how about a small donation to UK plc? See? No use at all. We could put up taxes and VAT. Ah. They’re already doing that. We could ask the nation’s premiership footballers to give up their salaries for a week. Hmmm.

Here’s a much simpler idea. Ask hotel companies to stop charging for internet access. Because £1.4 billion is what that small item on your checkout bill costs every year. The force is with those enlightened hotel groups who have already taken a deep breath and said to their guests: ‘OK, we know you need broadband, we know you need to work when you’re here – maybe we had better stop charging you an arm and a leg for a scrappy bit of paper with an access code written on it.’

One such hotel group is, you’ve guessed it, BEST WESTERN UK. Tim Wade, head of marketing at Best Western, told us the figure is based on market research from BDRC Continental. It shows that business travellers booked 106 million room nights in the UK during 2010 with an average hotel internet charge of £13.50 per visit. The average frequent business customer stays away at British hotels 11 times a year, so the initiative could save each businessperson £197.89 every year.

‘We are hugely committed to this,’ says Wade. ‘We are hoping our lead, and the success we have seen by introducing free internet across our entire portfolio of hotels, can be replicated in hotel groups up and down the nation.

’So why are some hotel groups dragging their feet? Perhaps it’s a natural aversion to give up their slice of that £1.4 billion. Mr Wade has an answer for them:

‘We know that free internet encourages more hotel overnight stays. So it’ll actually boost the hotel industry in the UK.’

Of course, hotels will lose more than they gain if customers vote with their feet and boycott those that still continue to charge. Not that we’d want to encourage that, of course.

Do Not Disturb (In-hotel Magazine)

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Do Not Disturb