Hey brother, can you spare a hotspot?

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Hot coffee - hotspot = that's cold. At least that's how I do the math!

We've all seen them (and at times, been one of them); the folks camped out for the duration using the local cafe as a satellite office.

9.7% of the nation's unemployed need somewhere to go. In the thirties, everyone went to the movies to fill their days. Now, it's Paneras or Starbucks.

The debate over whether to ban endless cybersquatting over a $3 cup of coffee is heating up. Apparantly, some cafes are worrying about turning over those tables to keep the customers flowing. It's a fair concern.

It's also ironic that when you consider over the past few years cafe chains, along with their independent competitors, have been falling over themselves to cut hotspot deals and ramp up their WiFi offerings to use as an enticer to increase foot traffic. Well, careful what you wish for, my friends.

I think cafe owners would be wise to think twice about banning laptops, after all it's the laptop user (a.k.a a customer) that is really being banned.

Some other alternatives:

1. Portion off some of the floor space with separate seating for laptop users at communal tables.

2. During peak hours, it would be reasonable to charge a modest fee by the half-hour.

3. Build on it, instead of tear it down. Set up some additional for-a-fee services; like printing, faxing, stapling, FedEx pickup, etc. There's a new revenue stream just waiting to flow here.

4. Get some mileage out of good will. Bill yourself as the cafe helping the unemployed worker/consultant. Offer professional networking get togethers on slow week nights. Get a resume specialist to come in and offer tips or a head hunter to speak on job hunting advice.

Take the lead on giving that 9.7% of the out-of-work work force an assist. When times are good again, you'll be remembered for your support. We've got to work together to get everyone working again.


Last updated: Aug 12, 2009




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