Text by Krunoslav Koščak, AdriNet
Ten years ago hotel Wi-Fi service was a necessity for only 1 out of 10 guests. Your Wi-Fi system only needed to support an Internet connection to a couple of laptops so your business guests can send their e-mails. Today your Wi-Fi system needs to ensure perfect Internet connection for every guests two devices! And the story doesn’t stop there…
Ten years may seem as a short period, but guests’ needs and demands are extremely different. Wi-Fi networks then and Wi-Fi networks today are just as different as Neanderthals and a modern man! Business guests in 2006 were happy with any Internet connection (event when it was limited to the lobby area); all they really needed it for is manage their e-mails. Back in the days it was easy to meet the needs of tech-enthusiastic guests: there were only a few and they didn’t ask for much.
But then 2007 came and the first modern smartphones appeared. Number of users that need Internet access through Wi-Fi networks started to grow exponentially. It still is, and it will not stop! Hotel with 200 guests needed to serve 20 devices ten years ago. Today it needs to serve 400 devices! You read it right, the number of rooms and guests is the same, but the number of devices increased 20 times! Every guest uses, on average, two devices that need Internet connection and they expect full speed on hotels Wi-Fi system. Wi-Fi just in lobby? Don’t be funny! Today’s guests expect strong Wi-Fi signal everywhere, even in toilets. To sum it up – stabile and fast Wi-Fi became just as important as a good bed. Just as you won’t find a single hotel in the modern world that will brag about their guests being able to enjoy warm water or a toilet in every room, it shouldn’t be a question whether you have Wi-Fi or not. Of course you have it. You must have it. The only question is how good it works and how satisfied are your guests.
How to boost sales with Wi-Fi?
Let’s imagine following situation: it is peak of the season and a hotel terrace is packed with guests. Everyone wants to make an order and wants to be served as fast as possible. If the waiter is young and inexperienced it will end up having a lot of problems: wrong orders, slow service and frustrated guests. Will they have understanding for inexperienced waiter? Probably not. On the other hand, experienced waiter will do the job with ease. Orders will come out on time, guests will be satisfied and might even opt for a desert or a glass of wine they didn’t plan to order in the first place. If you have more than one of such professionals you can rest assured that guests will be perfectly happy with your service.
It is the same with Wi-Fi access points – you need to have more of them and they need to be able to serve a big number of customer’s requests. You need to have antenna system that will hear even the quietest device in busy environment. That’s the main difference between simple/cheap home system and professional Wi-Fi system. The latter will serve all users devices, even if it’s a little starwatcher on your guests’ wrist somewhere on a crowded terrace.
But that’s not all! Good Wi-Fi system can do much more – you just need to understand that it’s your direct link to each of your guests. You can think of it as having a private broadcasting station and your guests are in fact your audience. It’s possible to connect your Wi-Fi system and your guest management system – and the options you’re getting out of it are numerous.
The most important thing is that your guests are connected to your network. Once they are connected you have the tools to manage messages you push through the system. You can display ads for your services or special offers. You might even advertise cities attractions or your partners’ offers and make money out of it. You can track your guests’ location in hotel/resort and use that information to improve your business. As you can see, the options are numerous and many of them can make your revenue go up. Just make sure your guests are connected to your network!
Internet of things – future of hospitality
Future is going to be even more exciting and it’s coming under abbreviation IoT – Internet of Things. Variety of sensors that help manage hotel resources are already in use – fire sensors, movement sensors, light sensors, cameras… and real revolution is just coming! Many of those sensors will use the same Wi-Fi system as guests’ smartphones. Here are a few examples how will things work: if a guest enters a wrong room door PIN you can automatically get security alert, when a guest leaves the room heating/cooling gets turned off and when guest comes back it turns on again. Freshly ironed shirt can be delivered to guest at the moment system gets notification that guest came back to hotel. Do you see these examples as possible savings and better service – it’s up to you.
Quality of hotels Wi-Fi system is one of most sensitive issues for guests and it can significantly affect hotels’ position on review/booking websites. Losing a few points can make a huge impact on your business as many travelers make their booking decision based on other travelers’ experiences. In fact, they are more likely to believe in someone’s review, then in your staff’s claims or marketing messages. If your Wi-Fi scores low it won’t matter that your beds are great. They will book another hotel that has good Wi-Fi and good beds too.
When talking about investment, we are always looking at costs and revenues. Of course, setting up a high quality Wi-Fi network isn’t cheap, but it’s an investment worth every penny. It can prevent bad customer reviews, it can make your guests happy and it can support all other systems in your hotel (property management, communication & marketing, sensors).
If this article got you thinking about improving your Wi-Fi network, here’s one more advice: let professionals take care of it! Just like you wouldn’t buy a regular, home-use dishwasher for your hotel, you shouldn’t think about setting up Wi-Fi network with components from local computer store. You need a proven, reliable equipment and experienced professionals that will design/ build the stabile, fast and possibly future-proof system. When you do that you can rest assured that your guests will be surfing radio waves of satisfaction!