Don’t let a lack of connectivity sink your reputation
“Invisible threads are the strongest ties.” Friedrich Nietzsche
While this famous quote relates to human connectivity, the same paradigm can apply to hospitality, where strong connections between guests, associates, and experiences are created within the four walls of the hotel. There are both tangible and intangible experiences that create strong ties to keep guests coming back.
Let’s look at this more closely. For smaller hotel owners, there are real opportunities to connect with your guests. Some are families, some are workers assigned to remote, long-term job sites, and some are just passing through town. But they all need and expect certain amenities, and by paying attention to important hospitality trends, hoteliers can build loyalty and a good reputation by getting a few things right.
ROBUST WI-FI WILL ALWAYS BE A MUST-HAVE
Efficient check-ins with front-desk computer systems or automated kiosks, streaming video content on the in-room TV, checking email, and having Zoom meetings all rely on reliable and fast Wi-Fi connectivity.
Layering the multiple devices each guest brings into hotels every day, a sub-par internet connection can make or break who comes back. Regardless of their demographics – guests placed for long-term plumbing contracts, families displaced from their homes, or transient travelers who frequent the same route – they all come with the expectation of a solid Wi-Fi experience. At the end of the day, reliable and fast connectivity is essential for any profile of guest.
KEY CONSIDERATIONS FOR NETWORK UPGRADES
If a hotel is looking to upgrade its network to satisfy this essential requirement, where should it start? Choosing Wi-Fi 6 infrastructure will best maximize your investment for the long run, as it will ensure faster speeds, more bandwidth available for more devices, and improved performance. This all leads to better experiences, higher ROI, and fewer hiccups on the network. Plus, most of the devices logging onto the network already support Wi-Fi 6 technology.
But, what does network usage look like? Let’s assume that every guest brings two to three devices into the hotel. At 100 rooms, that’s 200 to 300 devices taking a piece of the network at any given time, which is amplified during peak usage. And just for fun, let’s do this math with the 3.5 million guests who stay at AAHOA Member-owned hotels each night: that’s 10.5 million devices that need access. Additionally, due to guest demand and reduction of staff, the hotel may be required to deploy additional IoT devices (HVAC monitoring, water temperature monitoring, check-in kiosks, for example) and contactless technologies, which also need the wireless network infrastructure to support them.
Knowing the network has a lot of strain each day, hotels, even on the smaller side, can easily afford to build an enterprise-level infrastructure with a combo of access points, switches, controllers, and bandwidth-management gateways. This combination, which can be purchased and installed with one supplier for ease of setup and management, will ensure great Wi-Fi in every room, strong connectivity for housekeeping, sales and the front desk, and powerful support throughout the property, even for guests working at the breakfast buffet, in the lobby, or outside.
THREE IMPORTANT SCENARIOS
1. Evening internet usage peaks might be one of the most challenging scenarios to overcome. Everyone is trying to connect with work projects, stream video content, and be online for personal usage after a long day. The Wi-Fi will become unusable without the proper network controls in place. This scenario will only continue to increase exponentially with TV casting, gaming, and other high-bandwidth activities brought into the hotel.
2. A guest is using a small boardroom to host a meeting, and everyone around the conference table has to be online. AV teams need also to ensure the video stream and speaker in the meeting space is online and functional. These events provide great monetary opportunities, especially with offices being downsized and more companies hosting team events in hotels. But having the network controls in place to direct more bandwidth to these priority guests will be essential for a smooth experience.
3. A guest arrives at the hotel with four different devices. How do these guests get authenticated and securely connected without calling the front desk? Even after their smartwatch, phone, and tablet are connected, when the Wi-Fi on their laptop slows down, they will get frustrated and write a bad review online. You lose their future loyalty, not to mention the others who read that review and choose another place to stay. A reliable Wi-Fi network that can ensure easy and fast connectivity when it’s needed most will make happy, loyal guests.
Ready to make the upgrades but not sure about the capital expenditures? There are providers that offer OPEX models to give your hotel the step up now without the sticker shock. Building a solid foundation of those “invisible threads” to power the connected experiences will make all the difference in guest satisfaction and loyalty.