Cosmopolitan commentaries

I was tied up with jury duty Monday and Tuesday so I didn’t get the chance to share my Las Vegas Business Press column about the possible implications of The Cosmopolitan’s charging for wifi:

When The Cosmopolitan opened last December, its managers consciously positioned it as an in-the-moment alternative to the traditional Las Vegas casino. They commissioned artists to create murals in their parking garage, a far cry from the typical maroon/aqua/orange scheme most casinos use (remember which color you parked on?). Art-o-Mat machines installed throughout the property dispensed bite-sized artful odds and ends at $5 a pop. No cheesy cover bands running through the 1970s songbook three times a night in its Book and Stage casino lounge; instead, The Cosmopolitan booked cutting edge indie rock acts.

All of these touches, along with many more (small plates in the buffet! wraparound balconies!) were to make The Cosmopolitan irresistible to the curious class, an indefinable group of heretofore-untapped potential Vegas visitors who would spend sufficiently to justify the paradigm shift.

Free Wi-Fi was to be one of The Cosmopolitan’s difference-makers….

Charging for Wi-Fi bodes ill for The Cosmopolitan

Since I’ve waited so long to post the link, I’ll also share my extended Two Way Hard Three meditation on what can go wrong when you take back a freebie. Most people are sounding off about The Cosmopolitan’s wifi, but I took a pretty big detour into the Atlantic City Bus Wars:

I’d put The Cosmopolitan wifi in the same category: now that we’ve grown accustomed to free wifi there, whether as hotel guests or restaurant/club visitors, we’re going to be irked every time we look at our phones and see “3G” instead of that wavy wireless symbol. It’ll just be a reminder that we’re not getting as much out of the resort as we used to.

Freebie Bye-Bye Blues

Either way, this is something people clearly feel strong about.

With The Cosmopolitan already losing nearly $170 million this year, I almost wonder what the point is. Even if they got 500 people a day to pay $15 for wifi, they’d make an extra $7,500 a day, or about $2.7 million for the year. Which sounds like a big number, I won’t dispute, but when you’re already losing $227 million a year (which, if they keep on going at the pace they’re at, they will), does that incremental revenue really represent that big a gain over the negative PR/reduced bookings/reduced time on property?

I guess we’ll find out.

I’d still like to figure out how a 50-room La Quinta can lump the wifi costs in with your $70 room rate, but a 3,000-room place charging $200+ needs to add the charge on.