As a customer, you might be a little upset. After all, as Watts pointed out, “Imagine the hotel delivered complimentary issues of The New York Times to every room — except in this case, all the ads had been cut out … and on every single page, there’s a new ad that’s been stuck on top. How would you react? How do you think The New York Times would react?” More importantly, since the hotel’s ad injector didn’t play nice with YouTube’s interface, Watts could no longer access a huge portion of the Internet content he needed.
Marriott has responded to the claims, stating: “Preliminary findings revealed that, unbeknownst to the hotel, the Internet service provider (ISP) was utilizing functionality that allowed advertising to be pushed to the end user.” It also assured us it has pulled the plug on the ad injections. It’s important to note here that if the hotel were owned by a franchise group, its general manager would be responsible for contracting the networking services. So, it’s very likely that Marriott truly was not aware of this practice. I have to wonder whether Bruce Hoffmeister, Global CIO at Marriot International, hasn’t revised the corporate Internet usage policy already.
What do you think? Was the ad injection by the online service provider immoral? Or is this a case of competitive revenue-building through the customers’ use of the hotel’s wireless Internet? Is this any different from offering pay-per-view movies in the hotel rooms? The comments are waiting to debate this question of business propriety.