Today I was deposed as an expert witness in a software patent case. An attorney charging $500 per hour was supposed to be asking me tough questions while three more attorneys and a court reporter looked on. Due to the lack of slack in the American airline system, the recent snowy/icy weather had caused all of the attorneys to spend 6-7 hours waiting in various airports day after day and only three out of four made it to Boston. The attorney asking the questions was marooned in a hotel in Denver, Colorado while the rest of us sat in a meeting room at the Charles Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
The solution was a pair of iPads and Apple’s Facetime software. It would have worked out great from a hotel in Singapore to a hotel in Hong Kong or from Seoul to Tokyo. But high-speed Internet seems to be one thing that nearly all American hotels aren’t capable of doing (see my July 2004 posting from a $300/night hotel in Los Angeles, this November 2005 report comparing California and Mexico, this August 2006 posting from an expensive casino). So the connection kept going in and out, resulting in a waste of more than $2000 in combined fees (the deposition took about an hour longer than it would have).
Why is this something that Americans cannot master? Given the value of business travelers’ time, you’d think that this would be something that business hotels would be great at doing. They spend a fortune making it faster for frequent business travelers to check in and out. Why not make it possible for those folks, who can’t wait an extra three minutes to check in, to get some work done?
[Separately, the fanciest hotel in Cambridge was hopping at lunch time today with a banquet for hundreds of people. Who were they? City of Cambridge employees celebrating the recent election of City Council members (work one evening/week for nine months/year and get paid $75,000 (September 2013 posting))) using City resident tax dollars.]