So far, the Starbucks cafes in the High Desert haven’t limited WiFi used by laptop customers like some around the country have done. Cafe and coffee shop owners in New York, Florida, California and probably plenty of other states have been discouraging “laptop squatters” from camping out all day. One cafe owner’s revenue increase of 30% since doing so has been reported repeatedly. Those owners who show their displeasure of laptop users by limiting WiFi access and available plugins may be seeing positive results of other customers. But laptop users are consumers who have needs as well as others. Why not find ways to cater to their needs instead of ousting the consumers from the cafes?
I have a blog meetup group that meets at various places including a bookstore, Panera Bread, and at some of the Starbucks cafes. The bloggers buy coffee, pastries, and other items on the menus, not just a small coffee for the duration of the visit. Panera Bread has a wide variety of lunch choices, and numerous times some of the bloggers have stayed for lunch.
Ideally, a section in coffee shops intended just for the laptop squatters would work well. Provide plenty of outlets, WiFi, and a specific number of tables and chairs. When that section is full, additional laptop users that enter would have to either exit or wait until a table comes open. This would leave the main section of the coffee shop available for all who do not have laptops. A couple of my friends who are not laptop users quickly voiced their opinions today when I brought up this topic. One recommended laptop cafes, and the other friend said the laptop users should have to buy something every hour. I agree with the laptop cafe. I don’t feel that the squatters should be forced to buy something every hour. I’ve observed other groups just chatting for hours at a time without computers and haven’t noticed them jumping up every hour to make another purchase.
What is your opinion?