65% of guests use hotel Wi-Fi within 7 minutes of arriving. So how can hotels make their first experience an excellent one?
Did you know that hotel guests would have a hard time choosing between wifi access and air conditioning? And, that the majority of hotel guests would also pick wireless over food? Yes, you read that right – Arbitrip’s 2017 report* found wireless service and air conditioning tied as the top guest amenity with breakfast coming in second. A digital transformation survey we did among hospitality professionals shows that wi-fi is still among the top investment priorities in 2018.
Simply providing hotel wifi connectivity is no longer enough. Guests expect fast, reliable and secure Wi-Fi, to the point that they may choose another hotel if your network does not provide sufficient connectivity for their devices. If your hotel wifi network is frequently the source of guest complaints, you are not alone. Many hotels have aging networks that were not built to handle the high network bandwidth they need today, which is largely due to the sheer number of mobile devices that arrive with each guest.
In 2014, a Smart Brief poll showed that 45 percent of guests brought two or more devices while 40 percent showed up in your lobby with three or more devices. Since then, according to a Hospitality Technology magazine study, mobile use has evolved such that 48% of guests choose a hotel over another if the hotel has a mobile application. USA Today* reports that 65% of guests use Wi-Fi within seven minutes of arriving at a hotel.
Additionally, as room automation and Internet of Things (IoT) devices make their way into your hotel, the amount of traffic is going to significantly increase.
Upgrading your hotel network: Happy guests, productive employees and new services
When you upgrade your hotel network to meet (or hopefully exceed) today’s demands, you give your property a competitive edge. Your guests will be happy with the super-fast wireless, and they will be thrilled by the new services – check-in/checkout, order a drink while at the pool or turn the lights on in their room before entering – that your hotel can now offer with smartphone apps. Your staff can also now communicate and coordinate with each other, as well as guests, using mobile technology from anywhere on the property.
Here are five things to consider when upgrading your hotel’s network:
1. Coverage – In the past, hotel wi-fi coverage was only needed in a few places – guest rooms and maybe the lobby. However, today’s guests expect coverage everywhere in the hotel – even pool areas and the parking garage. And employees need to be able to communicate from the housekeeping closet or the maintenance shed at the back of the property.
2. Traffic patterns – Your guests and employees move around constantly while accessing the network, resulting in unpredictable traffic patterns. And they expect the same level of connectivity wherever they are on the property.
3. Throughput – It’s no longer email and Facebook that your guests want to access. They want to use multimedia applications such as streaming video from wherever they are at the moment – their room, the swimming pool, even the golf cart. The result – high bandwidth use.
4. Security – Guests trust your network with their work documents, banking information, travel plans and more, and they expect a network free of viruses and data breaches. This becomes even more challenging to ensure with so many different people and devices accessing your network. An IoT strategy becomes ever more necessary now.
5. Levels of service/access – Not everyone on your hotel property needs the same network access. Guests, employees, management, IT staff – all have different needs. By having the ability to define multiple user types, you can create a different environment on the same infrastructure for each user type, which improves security and service, and helps control bandwidth. Hotels can also provide VIP guest access with special perks – faster service, more bandwidth, or access to premium services or applications.
Your guests don’t want to have to think about the network or wireless connectivity. They simply want it to work whenever they need it, wherever they are on the property and for whatever they want to access. And your employees want to provide the best guest service, which is made easier by using mobile collaboration and communication tools. The only way to make this happen is to have a network ready to handle the mobile invasion. The bottom line: Upgrading your hotel network is good for the hotel, good for your guests and good for your staff.
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