Would you choose Free Breakfast or WiFi?
If you said free breakfast or freeÂ parking, you are wrong. It is actually free WiFi that ranks #1 in the list of desired amenities!!!
TechnologyÂ is changing travelersâ€™ everyday lives including what theyÂ expect from hotels or resortsÂ they stay in. A decade ago, if you looked to the future of hospitality, you would have never thought that WiFi would be a key factor in choosing a hotel.Â WiFi connectivityÂ is the most desired amenity for the guests (runners-up complimentary breakfast and free parking) (Source:Â https://goo.gl/NPcjGr). Guest reviews that highlightÂ poor WiFi connectivityÂ within the Hotel are known to result inÂ loss of bookingsÂ for both luxury & economy hotels.Â Free WiFiÂ trumps Free Food any day now!!!
Most of the guests expect toÂ remain online throughout the stay. The expectation isÂ home-like or even office-like wifi experience. Whether they are using business applications or browsing on social media, guests expect a delightful experience at the end. Bad connectivity and poor video streaming experience are definitely putting hotels on theÂ No-Go list.
Whatâ€™s important for guests when considering your hotel wifi
- Speed â€“Â Guests want to not only Browse the web for sightseeing locations nearby, Check emails but also Stream videos, make Skype video calls and more. You may have to ensure requisite network performance even when 100s of guests run these types of demanding applications simultaneously.
- Reliability â€“Â Seamless wifi is what guests expect. You probably donâ€™t want to see your guests roaming the corridors or huddling in the lobby in search of a stable wifi connection. WiFi should be accessible and reliable everywhere within the property.
- Security â€“Â Hotelsâ€™ wifi architects/network admins should understand the importance of secured wifi access to your guests. They might be transacting using their personal, professional, financial information online. Ensure that guest information is not easily hacked.
On entering a hotel, before anything else, guests try toÂ connect to your wifi network. If wifi is as expected then they express it out and if it is not, then theyÂ express even moreÂ on social media, travel blogs, sites like Trip Advisor, hotels.com etc. which affects your reputation & revenue.
Providing fast wifi in your hotel probably leads to aÂ Trip Advisor 5*Â review. Challenges in providing a seamless fast & reliable wifi are:
- Multiple WiFi Devices per Guest â€“Â We liveÂ in anÂ Always Stay ConnectedÂ generation. EachÂ person might be carrying 2 to 3 wifi devices on an average even during their travel. They have smartphones, laptops & tablets and they use more than one device simultaneously for different applications., This increases the bandwidth demanded of your network. ToÂ maximise guest satisfaction, network design should account for the multiplicity of devices in each room.
- Applications â€“Â Guests might use bandwidth consuming applications â€“Â Skype, Facetime, NetFlix, Torrents, Social media postsÂ and a lot more. Your network should be capable of handling these myriad applications and their unique mechanisms at scale.Â Validating these scenariosÂ before giving access to guests is challenging.
- Security â€“Â Public WiFi networks are more susceptible to security vulnerabilities. Most hotel guests are sitting ducks before skilled hackers.Â SecurityÂ of yourÂ guest WiFi SHOULDÂ always be one of theÂ top priorities. Think through your authentication processes, your network designs, servers and network elements. Keep on top of the various hacks running wild that could potentially lead to your guests being infected from your network. This can potentially affect your brand reputation.
- Captive Portal Logins â€“Â Though none of your guests like to enter their information before connecting to the internet, a captive portal is necessary to authenticate and provide secure access to guests. Captive portals not only provideÂ secure internet accessÂ but alsoÂ connects them to your brand. This is the first point of contact between your service promise and your customer. Make sure it is frictionless. Make sure your infrastructure is scalable enough even to handle even the busiest days of the year
- Seamless WiFi on the moveÂ â€“Â Guests demand seamless wifi across the hotel at all times, even when they are on the move. Is yourÂ network connection reliableÂ when guestsÂ move from their room to the gym or the restaurant? Do you haveÂ enough access pointsÂ deployed at the right locations? Do they implementÂ roaming protocolsÂ properly?
- Scalability â€“Â Lobby/reception, meeting hall, recreational areas can become especiallyÂ crowded. 10s to 100s of devices accessing the network concurrently in these areas creates a significantÂ LOCALIZED load on the network. Your network should be scalable to match the expectation.
Just providingÂ free wifiÂ is not enough to meetÂ guests expectations. You should be able to overcome the challenges and validate the performance before your guestsÂ complain about network issues. Â When you provide excellent WiFi experience to guests, you could expect
- Greater satisfaction from your guests
- Increased guest retention
- Increased revenues
- Finally, 5 * rating â‡’ increased brand value
There have been many blogs, surveys and reports on wifi trends in hospitality sector but very less that explainsÂ how hotels address the challenges. In our next post, we will dive intoÂ critical factorsÂ to consider while deploying a hotel wifi network, how to overcome the challenges and validating the same using ourÂ SWAT WiCheckÂ tool.