How can you put mobility at the center of hotel operations? It starts with adopting a 'mobile-first' culture: here's how
Guests walk into your hotel expecting friendly service, a comfortable room with as-advertised amenities. In recent years, two new expectations have been added to the list – the same level of technology as at home and the ability to interact with hotel staff using mobility for hospitality.
Employees also need to be able to do their job in the most efficient way possible and collaborate with their colleagues, which these days almost always involves mobile devices.
For many hotels, the answer is a mobile-first approach where they integrate Wi-Fi throughout. This requires:
• A high-performance infrastructure that reliably handles both guest and employee mobile devices
• Using mobility to improve hotel operations
• Using mobile apps and functionality to increase guest satisfaction
Here are seven steps to creating a mobile hotel:
1. Create a mobile-first culture
The first step is to link in-room automation, such as lights and temperature, to apps in mobile devices for guests and employees. Most likely, your vendor already provides this capability – it’s just a matter of using it.
Once the solutions are in place, you will need to educate and train employees starting with a team who has the expertise to assist other staff members. Next, identify a mobility leader for each department.
Understanding the technology and devices is just the first step of creating a mobile-first culture. Your staff must approach every new project, problem or process from a mobile perspective to design a solution that works with your guests’ and staff’s mobile devices. True mobile hotels undergo a cultural change of embracing and using mobility that starts with hotel leadership and is embraced by every employee from the general manager to the housekeeping staff.
2. Enable employee mobility
It’s easy to think of guests when talking about mobility for hospitality, but employees must be able to communicate with both guests and other staff members from anywhere around the property. Think about which hotel roles need mobility and then determine which type of mobility is best for their needs. Rainbow for hospitality provides guest and staff mobility with one solution.
3. Deploy pervasive hotel Wi-Fi
Ensuring that your guests and employees have a fast and reliable network to use at all times is an essential part of your guest experience. Wi-Fi still is a top amenity in the hospitality industry. A stellar hotel's wi-fi supports the guest experience, the hotel team productivity and can grow your hotel business, as it does for the Palladia Hotel. The number of mobile devices brought onto your network will only increase as guests embrace wearables, and with IoT devices involved in room automation for example. To handle the high level of performance expected by guests and required for hotel operations, your hotel wi-fi should respect the latest wi-fi standards.
4. Think outside the guest room and offices
Your guests expect to be able to get online wherever they are – whether inside or outside the guest room. When designing your hotel network, make sure your guests can connect to the network from their pool chair to order a drink, the parking lot for self-check-in, the garden to look up plant types – and anywhere else they might roam on your property. Since your employees need access to do their job, make sure that any employee-only areas, such as storage areas, attics or basements, also have reliable wi-fi connectivity.
5. Enable personalized user-based access
Both guests and employees need access to your network. However, guests don’t need access to the employee portion of the network and the housekeeping staff has no reason to access customer financial information. By creating user profiles for user-based access, everyone has access to the information and systems needed to do their job. You can also add value by creating a VIP login with higher data allocations for add-on purchase or for loyalty members. And you keep your hotel’s private information just that – private.
6. Ensure your network is IoT friendly
IoT devices are changing the guest room – automatic temperature control, key access, lights. But this is just the beginning. The amount (and capability) of IoT devices in hotels are going to increase. However, increasing numbers of IoT devices also means an increased security risk because they provide additional entry points for attacks and breaches.
Using an IoT containment approach, each type of device is stored in a separate “container”, which means that any breaches only affect other IoT devices of the same type and cannot spread to the rest of the network. To make your IT department’s life easier, use a solution that automatically puts new devices in the proper container cutting security risks.
7. Use a multi-layered security approach
A single breach or attack can cost your hotel not only time and money, it also damages your reputation. To keep your network safe, use the following three-pronged approach:
• Device level – Use fingerprinting to secure devices and allow appropriate access
• Application level – Use deep packet inspection (DPI) technology to provide visibility and control of applications
• Network level – Protect the integrity of network infrastructure devices
Now is the time to begin preparing your hotel to be a mobile hotel – not tomorrow or next week. Hotels that wait will be unable to handle the technology and expectations that will become the norm in the very near future. Plus, they’ll be playing catch-up for years. By starting today, your hotel will be on the leading edge of mobility, which will positively impact all aspects – guest satisfaction, loyalty, revenue and employee productivity. Let’s get started – your guests and employees will thank you.
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