Thursday, October 19, 2006

Blogging on the Strip: Not a Roaring Good Time

Corporate bloggers who like to post while traveling know that the most reliable way to keep the pipeline open is to schlep the old laptop throughout the trip and work in a hotel room that has a high-speed connection.

One of us found out the hard way last week it is foolish to assume that a very large hotel in a very busy town will provide a full-fledged business center with easy access to high speed connections.

With its 5,000 rooms stacked in massive buildings that stand out on the Las Vegas Strip skyline, the MGM Grand Hotel certainly seemed to have its Internet act together – at least in the rooms. The high speed access connector was there for easy, if expensive (70 cents a minute) connectivity.

But without our laptop, we looked up the “business center” location near the front lobby and headed down for a post. What a disaster.

There are 5,000 rooms at the Grand, but only five web-connected computers in the postage-stamp sized business hub.

Oh, two of the computers were at a stand-up podium. Only three desktops were perched in a cubbyhole tucked away to the right. They were occupied. There were others waiting. When we finally got our chance, we checked out an email that included a link to a Word document.

Bad idea, clicking that link. The machine froze. The clerk who responded pointed to a phone and told us to dial an 800 number for help. At that point, we looked at the others nervously fretting nearby their turn in the digital dungeon and just gave up the ghost. Forget about it.

What was so stunning about this meager facility was its comparison to the earlier legs of our Southwestern U.S. trip. A very small and quaint inn in Santa Fe provided a pleasant and separate room with free web access and printing. The Sedona, Arizona, inn provided free access at two comfortable sit-down locations near the front desk.

Even the well-worn El Rancho hotel on the old Route 66 in Gallup, N.M., offered free access on several computers in a separate room with windows. The hotel is well past its prime, when Hollywood’s Golden Age movie stars stayed there during filming of Westerns. But it understands the web needs of today’s guests.

The MGM in Vegas has many pleasant amenities and features, but when it comes to business center Internet access, it is far from the King of the Hill.

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