Here’s an interesting article from Computerworld talking about the success of Schlotzsky’s free wi-fi service. For an outlay of $8000 per store, they are seeing roughly $100,000 in increased sales per year in each of their 30 stores which offer free hotspots.
But Schlotzky’s isn’t the only free wireless successs story. Ron Shaich, chairman and CEO of Panera Bread, sees free wi-fi as something that customers should expect as a courtesy, as it is very inexpensive to operate and entices customers not only to stay, but to come back.
Here’s a choice quote:
In fact, Shaich considers free Wi-Fi to be such an essential marketing tool that he dismisses any discussion of ROI. “What is the ROI on a bathroom?” asked Shaich, pointing out that the day of pay restrooms in restaurants has long since passed.
When considering for-pay and for-free hotspots (as well as truly free network projects), I can certainly see the value in one free resource that makes all of these valuable propositions possible: public spectrum. None of these communication services would be possible without license-free portions of the public airwaves (FCC Part 15 here in the U.S.) Tell your government how important free access to the public airwaves is to your business and community!
Is free wireless access to the Internet a valuable resource, or a waste of spectrum?