5 Must Have Benefits with High Performance Hospitality Wi-Fi
In this short article, we’ll tell you:
- Why high performance Wi-Fi is so critical for Hospitality?
- What does the research say?
- The five must have benefits to remain competitive:
Take a few minutes to learn them all!
Why is reliable high performance Wi-Fi so critical for Hospitality?
It would disappoint me to think that now, in 2021, we would need to tell even one hotel owner or manager that reliable, high-quality Wi-Fi service is an absolute must have. At least by now, it seems that any alert, active leader in our industry would know how critical Wi-Fi is just from their own experience with guests, let alone from the countless articles and reports published regularly in our trade journals. The evidence is irrefutable. Guests demand high quality Wi-Fi wherever they stay.
On the other hand, a substantial number of hospitality managers and owners may not be fully aware of what high-quality Wi-Fi looks like in 2021 if they haven’t kept up with the latest technology advances and guest trends. If the last time you evaluated your Wi-Fi options was in 2016, you may have some fairly big surprises coming. And if that’s the case, there’s a good chance you are significantly hurting your chances of making a strong recovery this year by having outdated Wi-Fi at your properties.
In this latest article, I’d like to cover some of the most important changes in hospitality Wi-Fi and how these advances benefit not just guests, but also property owners and managers. Before I do though, I want to be sure you know what the current research says about the importance of high quality Wi-Fi in generating guest loyalty and engagement.
Back in 2015, Stephen P. Holmes, CEO of Wyndham International, said in an interview, “Access to the Internet is something that is, basically, like oxygen. Millennials are very technologically savvy and very aware of what’s available out there. They want to utilize all the resources that are available to them to make sure that they’re having a great experience.” His observation was prescient. In the years since then, the demand for high performance in-room Wi-Fi has grown steadily.
The reason? Devices.
What does the latest Hospitality Wi-FI research say?
Americans are more connected than ever and they always travel with devices. In August of 2020, Hospitality.net published the results of a survey that found 73% of guests travel with 2 or 3 devices, another 13% travel with 4 or 5, and a mere fraction of ONE PERCENT of all guests travel with no devices at all. Recognition of this is critical to understanding the modern traveler in 2021.
As part of Hospitality Tech’s 2020 Customer Engagement Survey, researchers asked (once again) for the ninth straight year: “What are the most important features that travelers expect a hotel to offer?” And the Number 1 answer (once again) was “Free Wi-Fi” at 80 percent. What’s interesting about this particular survey is that it was taken in the midst of a historic pandemic, and yet that answer far exceeded all health-related choices such as: “Ability to make contactless payments” (57%), “Ability to check-in/out via your mobile device” (54%), and “You are able to unlock your guest room using your mobile phone, i.e., no keycard is required” (54%). Free Wi-Fi remains king in the traveler’s mind.
Benefit #1: Private Personal Area Networks Now Possible for Hospitality Wi-Fi
We’ll start with one of the most innovative changes in Wi-Fi technology that specifically targets hospitality: the Personal Area Network, or PAN. Put in the simplest terms, what a PAN does is allow a guest to roam about the property – from their room to the lobby, from dining facilities to conference rooms, and from the gym or spa to the pool –all the while staying seamlessly logged in to the on-site Wi-Fi, and without ever having to re-enter credentials. A new user authenticates once at check-in and is auto-connected from then on into their own encrypted and totally secure virtual network. The same PAN is shared across all their devices, meaning they can share information, stream content, and even print documents as if they were on their own private network at home.
But a truly outstanding PAN does much more. For example, it should be easier and simpler for the user to manage than typical home Wi-Fi, and it should be equally simple for non-technical staff and property managers to support and manage. When this is true, neither guests nor new staff will need much training to get started. Moreover, frustrating help desk issues, which sap engagement, will rarely, if ever, occur. Instead, non-technical property staff use a straightforward, intuitive interface to create and manage all PANs. This includes selecting the appropriate bandwidth plan, choosing a TV entertainment package, doing password resets, managing room changes, handling move-in/move-out issues, and other support.
Benefit #2: Cost Saving Integrations with Top Tier Hospitality Wi-Fi
But there’s still one more level where a really well-designed PAN can go, integration with Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Properties gain opportunities for managing costs in a whole new way. By integrating guests’ PANs with intelligent automation, hotels can manage costly utilities such as AC, heating and lighting, adjusting them automatically when guests leave the room and resetting when they return. Door locks can be managed and modified in the same manner.
A high quality Wi-Fi solution also integrates seamlessly with leading property management systems. Managers and staff can get quick and easy visibility into analytics and usage statistics, which can be included in regular business reports along with all their other operating and financial data. Good system integration also means it’s just one step for staff to securely close out a user’s account at the end of their stay, ensuring both the guest’s and the property’s privacy. At the same time, if a premium service was offered and used by the guest, the usage will appear on the guest’s final billing automatically.
Benefit #3: Premium Hospitality Wi-Fi Delivers Tailored Online Services
A premium hospitality Wi-Fi solution should also provide flexibility in the online services offered. Property managers and owners should be able to easily customize their Wi-Fi offerings to meet their specific business goals. For example, a property might offer hybrid internet with free basic bandwidth for all guests and premium level Wi-Fi to specific individuals, either for charge or as a loyalty benefit. This could even vary from property to property based on pricing tiers or name brands. The same can be done with online guest entertainment choices. And as mentioned earlier, any additional charges can be billed on every guest’s folio with seamless property management system integration.
Benefit #4: Peak Usage Support with High Performance Hospitality Wi-Fi
Another benefit of a high-quality, high-performance Wi-Fi solution is the ability to provide customized load balancing and traffic shaping solutions to any part of the network. This is particularly important for your conference rooms and meeting spaces, because you’ll be able to provide high quality revenue generating Wi-Fi for your business guests and meetings during their peak times without necessarily paying for extra bandwidth and without sacrificing a high performance Wi-Fi experience for all guests.
Benefit #5: Today’s Hospitality Wi-Fi Must Include Cloud-Based Guest Services
Finally, today’s Wi-Fi for hospitality must support cloud-based guest services. Cloud-based solutions make it easier and simpler to install and maintain. The provider brings in the physical equipment or connects with the property’s existing equipment, and the solution is installed via the cloud. Whenever upgrades to the software are required, they’re automatically distributed across all properties in the organization – quick, simple, and safe. Also, advanced analytics and usage reporting can be generated across multiple properties and received at regional and central management offices. This includes communicating real-time usage data and error warnings to the solution provider to ensure a consistent, seamless experience for all users at every property. Help desk personnel can then potentially preempt potential service issues and operate with the highest possible visibility into the guest’s potential problems and resolve them much more quickly.
Five Benefits for a Five Star Guest Experience
Personal Area Networks, cost saving integrations, tailoring online solutions, peak usage support, and cloud-based guest services increase customer satisfaction, drive brand loyalty, generate additional revenue and reduce support costs. They ensure you are delivering a five-star experience every time while reducing complaints, support costs and getting the most out of your network infrastructure. If you want to make a strong recovery in 2021, consider making the move to a top-quality, up-to-date, high-performance Wi-Fi solution to increase revenue, reduce costs and improve guest satisfaction.