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> Is It Ok To Charge For Wifi, Should Campgrounds charge for Internet access?
Should Campgrounds Charge for WiFi?
Campground WiFi should:
be Free to entice more campers to the c/g [ 323 ] ** [78.59%]
be Free in the more "deluxe" sites [ 23 ] ** [5.60%]
be charged for on a per usage basis (recieve an access code at check in if paid for) [ 44 ] ** [10.71%]
be Charged for by an outside agency when loggin on [ 9 ] ** [2.19%]
not be a part of the camping experience (leave your technology at home) [ 12 ] ** [2.92%]
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docj
post Apr 29 2014, 09:59 AM
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QUOTE(hypogi @ Apr 28 2014, 02:09 PM) *



It is a matter of looking at the common factors in these cases. What is more likely, that EVERY campground has crumby wifi or that the people trying to connect are doing something incorrectly? Again not an accusation, I know that there are a lot of campgrounds trying to get by with TANGO wifi, which is worthless, but there are also a lot of people who have never learned how to use their computers.


I always get my hackles up when a merchant takes a "blame the customer" approach. I know you weren't accusing me personally, but I can speak knowledgeably since I work for a company that makes amplifier/routers for RVers and also provides much of the "back haul" WiFi hardware for RV parks.

After many, many tests, I am convinced that in most cases the problem is, indeed, the park WiFi. Computers can be outdated and slow, but running Speedtest.net from a browser to check network speeds doesn't require a particularly modern device.

The park we winter at is a good example of one that has invested in ~6 Wifi access points each being fed by a cable modem. That results in morning speeds of >4-5Mbs but by evening the speed is down to ~300-400 kpbs due to higher usage and because the cable system itself experiences slowdowns due to more customer usage, both TV and internet. Obviously, the answer is to invest in even more access points, but I don't know how many the park can afford for a free wifi. OTOH I'd be fine if they ditched their cable TV system entirely, although not everyone would be happy with that.

As for your slam at Tengonet, I'm sure you know that they specialize in wifi system design. The RV park owner has the final decision as to how much he is willing t pay to access the internet. The best wifi distribution system in the world won't work well if it's being fed by too small a pipe!


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Galli
post Apr 29 2014, 10:27 AM
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QUOTE(drmcleod @ Jul 18 2008, 04:18 PM) *

Should Campgrounds charge for Internet access?

I would like to get other opinions on this.

My opinion is no! I have two reasons for this.

First, as a consumer. Having free internet access is actually one of the things I look for in a campground. It's a 'perk' if you will. If I have the choice between two, somewhat comparable, c/g's then I will choose the one with free WiFi. Heck, I'll even choose the one with free WiFi over one that is slightly nicer with fee for service.

Second, as a business owner (of which I am one). It does not cost more to allow the whole campground access to your broadband service. The only additional expense is the addition of the hardware. In some cases this might be more expensive if additional antennas are required and installation requires an expert. Also, a higher than basic internet subscription is needed. However, if the c/g is going to charge for its WiFi service, then all of this has to be done anyway. Therefore, consider it a marketing expense to drive more people to your c/g. Why do you think that places like Panera Bread and even McDonald's are offering free WiFi? I know I choose to eat there when I need a place to surf while I eat. In my case, I want more people to come to my place of business, so I make my wireless service available to all. It costs me no more, but brings more people to me.

What do you think?

I have to be honest, I don't agree for a free internet because the cost is going to be shared by every body.
Mind you, I am an internet user and when I find a camp with free internet, I choose it but, honestly it is not fair that every one should share the cost.
You are mentioning that McDonald and other facilities are offering free internet, well, I am sure that it is not a God given present and theoretically it has been added to the product, you don't see it but it is there.
In order to add to your stats, I shall vote for the, the resort should provide this service at a moderate fee
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Eric P
post Apr 29 2014, 03:37 PM
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I dont like the fact that an outside vendor is handling the internet access at most parks, but lets be honest, the rates for everyone will have to be raised to support an IT team to handle the infrastructure and keep the system up and running. Sure, maybe its only and extra 2 bucks a day for most of us, but what about that person who is staying for the month? Two bucks adds u. Especially if you aren't using the service.

Pay as you go.
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docj
post Apr 30 2014, 12:32 PM
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Personally, I think that most RV park owners approach the WiFi issue with a small business mindset and always think of it as a "cost" rather than as a potential "profit center". I think park owners fail to realize that people would pay good money to be guaranteed a decent internet connection. Even though most smart phones can be used as wifi hotspots the typical cellular customer doesn't pay for a data plan to support any significant amount of steaming. Paying to use an RV parks's internet may be less expensive than paying for overages on a data plan.

There's no reason why a park can't setup free, bandwidth-restricted internet service for its customers while at the same time providing a limited number of high speed internet connections that are not subject to restriction (or with a limit high enough to provide high quality streaming). The high speed connections would have their own passwords and the park would sell time on them to customers who wanted to stream movies, etc. Time could be sold by the day or by the hour.

A park could start with a modest number of high speed "channels" and could experiment to figure out what the appropriate pricing needs to be to ensure a profit. For a park that stays reasonably full during the summer season there almost assuredly will be a price at which the channels get used most of the time. As long as that price is high enough to cover cost and make a profit then there should be little risk. In the off season the service could be curtailed or turned off entirely.


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kcmoedoe
post Apr 30 2014, 01:29 PM
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QUOTE(docj @ Apr 30 2014, 01:32 PM) *

Personally, I think that most RV park owners approach the WiFi issue with a small business mindset and always think of it as a "cost" rather than as a potential "profit center". I think park owners fail to realize that people would pay good money to be guaranteed a decent internet connection. Even though most smart phones can be used as wifi hotspots the typical cellular customer doesn't pay for a data plan to support any significant amount of steaming. Paying to use an RV parks's internet may be less expensive than paying for overages on a data plan.

There's no reason why a park can't setup free, bandwidth-restricted internet service for its customers while at the same time providing a limited number of high speed internet connections that are not subject to restriction (or with a limit high enough to provide high quality streaming). The high speed connections would have their own passwords and the park would sell time on them to customers who wanted to stream movies, etc. Time could be sold by the day or by the hour.

A park could start with a modest number of high speed "channels" and could experiment to figure out what the appropriate pricing needs to be to ensure a profit. For a park that stays reasonably full during the summer season there almost assuredly will be a price at which the channels get used most of the time. As long as that price is high enough to cover cost and make a profit then there should be little risk. In the off season the service could be curtailed or turned off entirely.
The problems with that approach would be the guests who use the free service would immediately think that the park was purposely degrading that service to force them to pay to use the better wifi. Those that chose the pay wifi would probably have expectations that couldn't be met by most parks, things like 300 MBS like you get with a private cable connection. No way a wireless system could deliver those speeds across a park. You would still have problems with connections due to the variances with individual computer's radios and the ever changing topography due to rigs coming and going.
Finally, who would actually believe a park that advertised that it had great wifi? It has been a product that has been over promised and uder delivered for so long that people would just think the promise of great wifi was a marketing scam. I seriously doubt that advertising great wifi would bring in very many more people. They just wouldn't buy the advertising.
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docj
post Apr 30 2014, 01:49 PM
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If the low-speed free service didn't work out then the answer to that would be to eliminate it.

As for whether or not the high speed service would be attractive, I think the only way to find out would be to try it. If you are a park owner who has already made the investment in a WiFi system and is getting beaten up over its poor performance then this "pay to play" approach could be something to try before you eliminate it totally.

I do know of parks that have re-allocated their spending and have taken the money they used to spend on cable TV and have switched it to paying for their internet service. So many things can be streamed now and so many people are becoming knowledgeable on how to do it, that eliminating TV hasn't been such a big deal.

One advantage to the customer is that instead of having to put up with basic cable which is all that most parks offer, customers can, for example, access HBO Go or Showtime on Demand if they happen to pay for these channels at home. They are no longer dependent on the park for their video content.


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hypogi
post May 2 2014, 10:18 AM
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All of these posts are really on point. I feel like we are all having the same conversation just in a different language. I try not to take a "blame the customer" approach to anything but sometimes it is the customers fault. It's also not fair to take a "blame the merchant" approach to everything either.

I feel your frustration as a camper when a place offers wifi and fails to provide it. I've been to more parks that have this issue than ones that provide really excellent wifi. For many owners putting up a single Netgear box in the office is enough for them to justify the claim that they have wifi. It's misleading and unfortunate because it make the other campgrounds that really try to provide full coverage look bad as well.

Furthermore, comparing it to McDonalds wifi is completely unfair for a lot of reasons. McD's only has to provide wifi to a single building, a couple hundred square feet at most. A campground has to try and cover acres and acres of space across hilly and wooded terrain. It's a completely different set of challenges.

What I think most people fail to recognize is that wifi is a two way signal. I could have the biggest amplifier allowed by law but if the receiving computer can't transmit back to the access point it wont make a bit of difference.

We do view the wifi as a profit generating amenity. We just choose not to bill for it individually. It's wrapped up in the cost of the night stay, same as cable, electric, water, et cetera. We tried charging for wifi before and it just seemed to cause more problems than it solved. Campers are happier with free wifi. I really like the idea of being able to provide tiered service where the basic wifi is free but higher speed internet can be purchased. I'm just not sure of the logistics of doing something like that. I don't think you can guarantee a faster connection, and if you are charging for it you had better be able to provide it. If you get one joker out in your park playing video poker or a couple people streaming netflix they can bring your whole system to a crawl. I suppose if you had somebody to monitor usage full time you could do it but it just doesn't seem practical to me. Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I'm only speculating.
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dalsgal
post May 2 2014, 01:20 PM
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QUOTE(hypogi @ May 2 2014, 11:18 AM) *



Furthermore, comparing it to McDonalds wifi is completely unfair for a lot of reasons. McD's only has to provide wifi to a single building, a couple hundred square feet at most. A campground has to try and cover acres and acres of space across hilly and wooded terrain. It's a completely different set of challenges.



We do view the wifi as a profit generating amenity. We just choose not to bill for it individually. It's wrapped up in the cost of the night stay, same as cable, electric, water, et cetera. We tried charging for wifi before and it just seemed to cause more problems than it solved. Campers are happier with free wifi. I really like the idea of being able to provide tiered service where the basic wifi is free but higher speed internet can be purchased. I'm just not sure of the logistics of doing something like that. I don't think you can guarantee a faster connection, and if you are charging for it you had better be able to provide it. If you get one joker out in your park playing video poker or a couple people streaming netflix they can bring your whole system to a crawl. I suppose if you had somebody to monitor usage full time you could do it but it just doesn't seem practical to me. Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I'm only speculating.


Another thing that causes a problem with WiFi many times is the RV itself. Recently we had a man living her that got great WiFi reception for months. Then he bought a new RV and could barely connect at all and was in the exact same spot. We also have families come in with several kids and they all have their computers/tablets and each one wants to download a different movie or game at the same time. There are so many variables that can affect service. Generally we have no problem with anyone getting online and having a great, and fast, connection. We do have a good many people that work in the area so they live in their RV's and some of them must connect with their jobs by the internet. For most of those relying on their cell phone for internet does not work. We provide, at no cost to anyone, the internet service. There is no cost added to the fees because the campground itself gets it free in exchange for a company putting their tower in the corner of our property.
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taylorbanks
post May 5 2014, 06:19 PM
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QUOTE(docj @ Apr 30 2014, 12:32 PM) *

Personally, I think that most RV park owners approach the WiFi issue with a small business mindset and always think of it as a "cost" rather than as a potential "profit center". I think park owners fail to realize that people would pay good money to be guaranteed a decent internet connection. Even though most smart phones can be used as wifi hotspots the typical cellular customer doesn't pay for a data plan to support any significant amount of steaming. Paying to use an RV parks's internet may be less expensive than paying for overages on a data plan.


I think you're absolutely right. I also think it might be prudent to educate park owners about how much additional business they might earn by procuring (and offering) better internet access. For my wife and I, who depend on good internet access to be able to work, the combination of decent (or better) WiFi and good (or better) 4G signal availability is a bit of a necessity if we want to stay for more than just a day or two.

For us, we'll gladly pick a lesser park with better wifi, even if it means paying for access, though we specifically seek out parks with good free intenet whenever possible.

QUOTE
There's no reason why a park can't setup free, bandwidth-restricted internet service for its customers while at the same time providing a limited number of high speed internet connections that are not subject to restriction (or with a limit high enough to provide high quality streaming). The high speed connections would have their own passwords and the park would sell time on them to customers who wanted to stream movies, etc. Time could be sold by the day or by the hour.


Agreed.

I'm working on putting together a free resource for park owners that addresses many of these concerns and provides hard data to help them understand the risks and benefits. Ultimately, as with hotels, I think RV park owners will arrive at the conclusion that providing good internet access will earn them significantly more business, with minimal additional overhead.

It's also reasonably easy for park owners to throttle certain types of traffic (streaming audio and video), and cache other types of traffic, resulting in excellent performance for general use while simultaneously preventing rampant abuse by visitors who don't understand how or when to limit their own usage.


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Kawhiacamp
post May 6 2014, 12:38 AM
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QUOTE(taylorbanks @ May 6 2014, 12:19 PM) *

It's also reasonably easy for park owners to throttle certain types of traffic (streaming audio and video), and cache other types of traffic, resulting in excellent performance for general use while simultaneously preventing rampant abuse by visitors who don't understand how or when to limit their own usage.

I brought a camping ground 8 months ago and have been playing around trying to find the best balance between customer service and business profitability with wifi. I didn't want to charge for wifi unless I absolutely had to so when I first arrived I simply opened up the wifi with no restrictions. This was great for the guests but here in New Zealand we have to purchase data plans for a set amount per month (60GB in my case), if we go over we get charged a considerable amount per GB. After a few kids over the holiday period were averaging a usage of 4GB per day I was forced to place restrictions.

My solutions was to use a free / low cost service www.hotspotsystem.com which enabled me to offer free wifi to guests that is restricted to a certain amount of data per period. If they want more then they have the capability of purchasing more online. I don't restrict speed since being rural speed here is dismal anyway. The cost to the camp is nil unless they choose to purchase wherein I get 70% of the amount. I found that 100MB per 24hrs in the holiday period and 200MB in the off season has worked well as this allows for general email and browsing including up to an hour of video Skype calls. 3rd party systems like HotSpot (there are others out there) allow the control of wifi to be easily set up, flexible to the camps needs (ability to offer free wifi etc), have simple international payment options and keep good records and analysis of individual and total usage.
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docj
post May 6 2014, 07:57 AM
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Thanks for sharing that link. I realize it's of no use in the US, but it appears to be exactly the sort of systems approach that I had been advocating. I like the idea of cost-sharing the profits as a way of keeping basic installation and operating costs low. Now all we need is for someone in the US to be creative enough to implement something similar.

QUOTE
I really like the idea of being able to provide tiered service where the basic wifi is free but higher speed internet can be purchased. I'm just not sure of the logistics of doing something like that. I don't think you can guarantee a faster connection, and if you are charging for it you had better be able to provide it. If you get one joker out in your park playing video poker or a couple people streaming netflix they can bring your whole system to a crawl. I suppose if you had somebody to monitor usage full time you could do it but it just doesn't seem practical to me. Perhaps I'm wrong on this, I'm only speculating.


Using a "total solution" like this should go a long way to meeting the concerns expressed above. The software will control each customer's usage so one individual can't ruin it for everyone. In addition if the park implements its internet through a guaranteed connection such as a T3 line then there would be far less risk that the internet connection won't deliver the promised speed.


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NYDutch
post May 6 2014, 08:36 AM
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A dedicated T-3 line is only 50Mb, and can cost $4,000 to as much as $16,000 per month. I recently worked on an OC-3 fiber installation (155Mb) for a business that's paying $38,000 per month for a Tier 1 connection.


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Kawhiacamp
post May 6 2014, 03:05 PM
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QUOTE(docj @ May 7 2014, 01:57 AM) *

Thanks for sharing that link. I realize it's of no use in the US, but it appears to be exactly the sort of systems approach that I had been advocating. I like the idea of cost-sharing the profits as a way of keeping basic installation and operating costs low. Now all we need is for someone in the US to be creative enough to implement something similar.


HotSpot Systems can be used internationally. In fact 1665 enterprises including camping grounds in America already do. The company itself is based in Hungary. There are others around as well that I had a quick look at but they all either had a cost attached that I was unwilling to pay or were not as flexible (i.e. the use of vouchers only for free wifi).

The solutions are out there but I think a lot of CG's think that if they can make money from charging for wifi they will without taking into the account the marketing aspect of free wifi (it is a large draw card for my camp). Also if they get a third party to set up the hardware then the installer would most likely use their own system or the software company they have an agreement with and these are likely to be restricted to charged wifi only.

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hypogi
post May 6 2014, 04:02 PM
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QUOTE(docj @ May 6 2014, 09:57 AM) *

Thanks for sharing that link. I realize it's of no use in the US, but it appears to be exactly the sort of systems approach that I had been advocating. I like the idea of cost-sharing the profits as a way of keeping basic installation and operating costs low. Now all we need is for someone in the US to be creative enough to implement something similar.
Using a "total solution" like this should go a long way to meeting the concerns expressed above. The software will control each customer's usage so one individual can't ruin it for everyone. In addition if the park implements its internet through a guaranteed connection such as a T3 line then there would be far less risk that the internet connection won't deliver the promised speed.


One thing that you might be overlooking here is the location of many campgrounds. A lot of us are out in rural areas. Our only internet option for a long time was Hughes.net. Which if you have never used, let me tell you, it's terrible. We were better off with NO internet than we were with Hughesnet. so the idea of getting a T3 line at our location is pretty unrealistic. Heck, we can't even get cable TV delivered out here let alone a T3 line.
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taylorbanks
post May 7 2014, 09:36 AM
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QUOTE(Kawhiacamp @ May 6 2014, 03:05 PM) *

HotSpot Systems can be used internationally. In fact 1665 enterprises including camping grounds in America already do. The company itself is based in Hungary. There are others around as well that I had a quick look at but they all either had a cost attached that I was unwilling to pay or were not as flexible (i.e. the use of vouchers only for free wifi).


A few other great free or low-cost options for CG's that want to DIY (or hire a consultant to implement on low-cost hardware):

http://www.hotspotpa.com/
http://dev.wifidog.org/wiki/Features
http://www.packetfence.org/
http://www.facebookwifi.me.uk/

QUOTE
The solutions are out there but I think a lot of CG's think that if they can make money from charging for wifi they will without taking into the account the marketing aspect of free wifi (it is a large draw card for my camp).


I absolutely agree. I think many CG owners take for granted just how much more business they might see if they have good free wifi (and get campers talking about it on review sites and forums like this one). I think one of the best things CG owners can do is to ask happy campers to spread the word!

For example, explicitly telling campers the following would probably go a long way:

"We worked hard and spent a lot of money to ensure the best internet connectivity at our park, and it will really help us out if you can spread the word! If you have just a moment, please post about our great wifi on Facebook and sites like rvparkreviews.com! Thanks!"

Also, in most urban or suburban areas, broadband and DSL connections will provide as much (or more) bandwidth as a dedicated line (like a T3 or DS3) at a fraction of the price.

Of course, for CG owners in rural areas, the cost of connectivity may truly be prohibitive. However, for those who are willing to invest in connectivity, hopefully one or more of the above resources may help justify the upfront costs.


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