I do not mind at all discussing these issues or answering questions as they pertain to my business. I have discussed some of these things on previous posts and have read a lot of opinion about these issues on other posts.
We built our park from scratch and opened March 1, 2001. At that time wifi in RV Parks did not exist. Within 2 years, the burgeoning wifi business came on the scene, and through our State Association, we received a number of presentations from different companies giving pitches for their wifi solutions. We chose one that seemed to us to offer the best solution for our location in the boondocks where we had no cable TV and the rural phone cooperative did not yet offer DSL. This left us no choice other than satellite for a “high speed” internet connection. Until then we were on dial-up. That original contract (other such 3rd party providers offer similar arrangements) gave us two basic options: (1) They supply all equipment, installation, site survey work, and system maintenance at no cost to us and they keep 100% of all revenue generated; or (2) We purchase or lease from them all equipment, pay for site survey work and maintenance and we get 30% of the revenue generated. Under either plan, we would also have to pay for the satellite signal, which initially cost $120/mo. There is no difference in billings to the customer under either option.
We chose option 2, and after 2 years of tinkering, cussing and discussing, we had a wifi system that worked good sometimes, fair to bad about half of the time, and not at all sometimes. This initial company finally gave up after two years saying that they did not have satisfactory solutions for our problems, which they attributed to incompatibility between the satellite system and modems and the available wifi broadcast systems for RV parks. That first company gave up and sold all of their RV park wifi contracts to another company and now concentrates on their original business of installing wifi systems in buildings where satellite signals and broadcast distance, topography, and varying numbers of users are not issues.
The next company came in promising that they could solve all of our problems, and all we would have to do is purchase a different satellite dish and router and install a repeater to cover the far reaches of the park. We also purchased additional bandwidth from Hughes satellite, which raised our ongoing monthly satellite cost to $200/mo. This proved to work better, but still not satisfactory to us or our customers. We still had issues with inconsistent signal strength, signal availability and speed, especially when the park was crowded. It seems that wifi, being a radio signal, does not pass through large RVs very well. Between these first two companies and period of 4 years we spent about $8,000 in equipment and labor plus the monthly bandwidth charges for the satellite signal.
About 2 years ago, company number 2 sold their business to company number 3 who told us that they could solve our problems, and they seem to have finally done it. It cost me an additional $4,200 in site survey work, an additional antenna and three more repeaters. We have since been connected to DSL by our phone company, and everything seems to be working great. This company provides us tip sheets to hand out to our customers and provides us and our customers a 24 hour help line and remote diagnostics for our system if we have system problems. Our customers tell us that the help line people are professional, knowledgeable and courteous. We receive a lot more positive comments about how well the system works than we do complaints about paying for it.
The addition of wifi has had no impact on our rates. Our rates are set according to seasonal supply, demand, and local competition. No one has the ability to charge more than the market will pay. If enough customers are not willing to pay the rate that we need to justify our costs and labor, then our only option is to get out of the business. To stay in business we must supply products and/or services that our customers want and are willing to pay for and do so with a friendly helpful attitude.
As far as credit card charges, they generally run about 1 to 3 percent of the charge plus a small transaction fee in the 25 to 50 cent range.
Again, thanks for letting me give my 2 cents worth. Doug