THE COMMODITIZATION OF WI-FI | Part II: Fighting Back with New Technology

Dan Lulich, Chief Technology Officer at Eleven

In Part I of The Commoditization of Wi-Fi, I talked about how the rise of mobile use is making Wi-Fi a hotel necessity, just like door locks and hot water. While it’s clear we can’t change that, let’s talk about 3 ways hoteliers can recoup some of the costs of this new commodity by adopting new technology.

1. Win Loyal Guests With Better Internet Access: Let’s start with an obvious one – putting technology in place to enhance the guest Internet experience is key to gaining guest loyalty. It’s probably no surprise that poor Internet connection topped the list of guest woes again this year; a Forrester survey reported a whopping 94% of respondents cited lack of decent WiFi as a deal breaker when booking (read more here). Bottom line: hoteliers who deliver a better guest Internet experience will win; guests want easily accessible, fast, dependable WiFi and they’re not willing to accept anything less. For an example of new bandwidth technology on the horizon, take a look at how Google Fiber is stirring up the pot for Internet providers.
2. Encourage Guests to Spend More With Mobile Apps: Already, guests can order room service, book spa appointments, and make dinner reservations via mobile apps. Embracing mobile service apps not only automates simple concierge-like duties, but they can and should enhance the guest experience. Making it drop-dead simple to book a round of golf or order a meal and it leaves little room for the guest to question whether or not they it. Additionally, it’s likely that hoteliers will soon be able to earn advertising dollars from service apps, from sources like local businesses to big brands. Those who successfully adopt mobile applications as part of an overall business strategy should see sizable returns in the future – both in revenue and loyalty.
3. Establish Guest Rapport With Push Notifications: Airlines have already seen success with notifications that guests actually want, and hotels should quickly follow suit. The more positive touch points you can have with your guests, the better. Reminders for flights or an offer for taxi service, room comforts (i.e. pillow preference to soaps, razors, etc.), and room service delivered upon arrival are all big wins for a five star guest experience. It’s not about replacing people; it’s about ideal outcomes. You still need those personal touches, but push notifications and relevant reminders create more channels to open guest communications with accuracy and efficiency.

What kind of technology do you plan to deploy in 2014?Time, planning, and effort are well worth the investment for these technologies that are sure to pay off by both increasing repeat (read: profitable) guest bookings as well as creating new revenue opportunities.