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I own a home in a remote location in Costa Rica, there is no cable, phone or wired internet service. Due to multiple guest requests, I just installed internet via cellular phone on a Wi-Fi router and the only service they provide is limited capacity, that is, I have to pay for each MB of data.
I bought a 1 GB service per month and the first guest used it all in one afternoon, I explained to them the limits and if they need more, they should purchase it online from the cellular company at $7 for each 100 MB. They are not happy about it.
I am providing an expensive service and I was hoping that 1 GB would last me a month, but some guests use it endlessly. There is no unlimited internet service programs and I must purchase additional data.
I have seen some posts recommending unlimited internet as a must have amenity, but I have NO OPTION, if I advertise unlimited and a guest decides to spend their weekend watching YouTube videos or Netflix, I will go broke.
Also, I buy a monthly program of 1GB, and if the first guest uses it all, I must refill it each of the next three weeks until the next month starts. Larger data programs charge the same proportional amount, so I get no discount for getting a larger data plan.
My question to the community is how to handle the internet issue:
1. Should I just absorb the refills even if they run into the hundreds of dollars per month? (Again, no unlimited plan is available)
2. If your recommend a limit, how much is a reasonable amount? i.e. X MB per day or per week, (I have no way of controlling it and I must be refilling it weekly for each guest).
3. How do you manage this in the advertisement or the contract? Any recommended clauses?
Thanks for your advice.
WOW-- great questions. Not knowing your options may I suggest you speak with your provider to see if you can limit access, and be notified if someone goes over the limit? maybe they can provide you with a service that simply won't allow excessive use.
1GB is not much space. My 2 GB ipod makes me crazy at times!
In today's world with smart phones, etc. I'd assume people can use them ( and pay for their own usage) to browse, etc. But I don't really know!
Hi msdebj,Thanks for your help. I pay $50 for the 1GB plan and $95 for 2GB, there isn't that much I can save and if buy 2GB and the first guest uses it all the first week, I must replenish it for the next guest anyways until the following billing cycle. What are your thoughts on a daily or weekly limits?
Great question, since you clearly cannot offer unlimited internet to your guests, you have a serious challange.
Any ideas how your guests used so much in one afternoon?
Thanks for your answers, I talked to the guests and they connected their two laptops, an iPad and a mobile phone to the Wi-Fi, I did not want to inquire about the contents they downloaded, but four devices were demanding a lot of data.
That is lots of connections, but not unreasonable for a family of four. Now if they bring their XBOX and play with others, connect their kindles, use their Skype for international calls, watch Netflix and connect all their phones downloading updates, the sky is the limit.
Yikes! Sounds like they downloaded music and videos that first day. Reasonable limits...not sure, as it depends on how big of groups you usually have and, as stated above, how much they are paying for the week. Personally, I use about 15 to 20 MB per day on my phone, when traveling. That's checking emails and Facebook, with a little bit of surfing.
If it were me, I would consider spelling out what usage activities are within normal limits. State that checking email and social media throughout the day is fine, as well as some surfing when researching activties or looking up phone numbers, but that downloading music, videos, Netflix, email attachments, pictures, etc. would put them over their daily limit. Your provider may have a chart of how many emails and downloads can be done within the limits like ATT does when you choose your cell phone data limit.
Then set a number for the stay. If you figure 100MB per day, and they are staying the week, make sure they know they have 700MB of data to use and that generally consists of # of emails and # of minutes using the website browser. Then anything over will be charged per 100MB.
You will want to make sure the limits are known before you send them the rental agreement as well.
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I don't want to know what they downloaded, it's not like I have a fourth camera in the house . But I read between Tyan and Gabriel's comment that 100 MB per day is reasonable, with prior notification to the guest, as my rates are closer to $1,800 per week. Any other suggestions are welcomed. Thanks a lot for your comments, I really appreciate all the help.
Wow! You are paying a lot for internet service, but I guess you have no other option. Love the "Fourth Camera" quote, it's best to respect the guest's privacy. How are you going to control the consumption of your first guest of the month? If you load 1GB and they use it all, you will have to keep loading it weekly, what a pain!
Oh Oh, the fourth camera is looming on the horizon ....
We recently installed a Verizon MiFi unit at our cabin and here's the info I provide to our guests in their rental information. It's also posted on the wall next to the unit. Our plan is $50 for 5GB per month, so we divided the usage by 4 weeks @ 1GB per guest stay. So far we've had no one really come close to going over 1GB per rental. Here's part of what our wifi info reads:
We now offer Verizon Wireless MiFi service that provides wireless internet service within a 35 foot radius of the unit. You may connect up to 5 wireless devices at one time. While this is touted as a 4G service, our area does not have access to 4G so it defaults to 3G service.
Do not use for streaming videos or music, online gaming or large downloads as Verizon limits our bandwidth. If you exceed 1GB of data for the term of your rental, you will be billed $20.00 for each 1GB increment overage.
Here's an example of total DAILY usage that's a good benchmark so you don't have to worry about running over the 1GB max:
IMPORTANT: Make sure everyone in your party with a wireless device is aware of the above usage recommendations. Enjoy the wifi but please be mindful of bandwidth usage.
I agree that providing a sample of the usage is the best way to inform your guests of what they can expect.
Draw up some samples based on common usage by a party of however many you usually accommodate.
Present usage by a teen or young adult (often travel with many gadgets and are insatiable), by a professional (staying in contact with work or actually working - conferencing, submitting docs, etc), by a social media addict, by a vacation chronicler uploading dozens of photographs on a daily basis for family and friends.
I think illustrating the type and amount of these activities that are possible will be the best way for potential guests to understand what they will be able to do before they exceed the limit.
This could discourage some guests from your home, but I think it's best your guests understand what you are supplying.
My family recently rented a home in Yosemite National Park and we were advised there was not any internet or cell phone connectivity. We knew the limits and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. An aside - while hiking in the park one day, we noticed a crowd congregated at a bend in the trail approximately three quarters of the way up to the peak - it turned out there was a cell phone signal at this turn. We made a series of telephone calls and sent a group photo; as much as we were enjoying the opportunity to escape our gadgets, it was hard to resist the temptation . . . .
Welcome to the world of high tech consumers who demand that everything is like "home". While this is called Home Away, you would think that it is kind of foolish to travel thousands of miles to experience a vacation in a foreign country, and then be disappointed when you can't spend all your time streaming television from your slingbox in Boston to your iPhone in Costa Rica. But the market for vacation rentals has changed dramatically in the last few years, and people seem to want everything they have at home, including stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, large screen HDTV, and unlimited internet for the ubiquitous iPad. All this great stuff costs a fortune, breaks incredibly often, and is hard to maintain in a tropical climate. The truth of the matter is, the more electronic stuff you provide, the more things will break, and you will be spending a lot of money keeping everything running smoothly. The only way you can stay competitive with the other owners is to keep things as simple as possible. The new stainless steel fridge you spent a fortune on to get to your villa will get zapped after the next lightning strike, the electronics will be fried, and you will be out thousands when you find out it will be more expensive to repair than getting a new one.
I think it's great that you figured out a way to provide internet to your guests. If possible, I'd hook your in-house wireless receiver to a wireless router that has software to limit the daily downloads to 100mb per day. Let your guests know the limitations up front, and keep a replacement router in your owner's closet for the inevitable day when the first one breaks. I feel your pain - we have the same problem with electricity and water usage, with guests running up thousand dollar electric bills by running the a/c and spa 24/7, when they are spending the day at the beach. Our biggest challenge is keep our internet router working smoothly, with helpful guests resetting it and changing the settings to their own liking. Make sure you tape over the reset button on the router with a label that says: 50 dollar charge if you reset this router!
Larry, You are so right. I have to send the technician often to repair the rust in my fridge, oil the compressor and stuff like that, something I never had to do in my city house. Point welll taken about messing with the router.
Wow Amy, this is really helpful. Thanks a lot
Another suggestion might be HughesNet - a satellite internet company. It's about $75 per month near as I can remember, and it has a "fair usage cap" where the bandwidth is automatically throttled way back if too much is used in a day. I lived in a rural area and it was the only thing available.
Good for checking emails and casual browsing, but useless for downloading movies and most iTunes content. In other words, I hated it when I had to use it. But it was the only thing available then and may be just the right solution for you, provided you can have the equipment installed at your premesis.
Hughesnet would be a good choice. That's what I have and it slows down the data flow for 24 hours if someone goes over the daily limit. That would an immediate governor for your guests without you having to lift your finger. You could just say that the limit lasts 24 hours. If they want to pay to have it reset, it's $7.00. We did have Wild Blue, and they had an UPLOAD limit, and that was difficult for us because we have a photography website and were using Carbonite. Hughesnet works in the opposite direction.
Since you are having data limits, consider the following pages:
To determine how much data each application uses:
For a table of typical usage and comparison of cell phone providers in the USA:
These are all great ideas; I'm going to tape over the reset button on my router right away!!
I'd also make sure you have a good library of videos and books in the house -- no need to download them if they are already in the house! I also provide a whole closet of games with the hope -- perhaps vain -- that maybe the families might rediscover how much fun it is to play a game with each other in the same room instead of each separately playing computer games with someone a thousand miles away.
We have phone, cable and Internet bundled at one rate. Our Internet service is unlimited.
I'm really curious about how your competitors handle this situation. You say it is your only option, so isn't it the only option for your competitors also? By competitors, I mean those with similar sized homes, ammenities, and rental rates?