Today, great Wi-Fi is about more than just connecting devices—it is about connecting people to your brand. People spend more than 50% of their time on Wi-Fi. Your guest network must be able to not only handle this growing traffic, but also to identify and engage your most loyal guests.
A growing segment of hotel guests, called Silent Travelers by Skift, rely more on technology than human interaction and connecting with this group can be difficult. By leveraging the Wi-Fi, you not only add value to their stay, you open up countless doors for guest engagement. Below we outline the top 5 hotel Wi-Fi hurdles and how to overcome them.
1. Just offering Wi-Fi isn’t good enough, it has to be great
It used to be that hotel Wi-Fi was all about speeds and feeds. Local hotel IT managers solved slow Internet performance by throwing more bandwidth at the problem. Today, with the proliferation of mobile devices and bandwidth-hogging applications, hotels need to constantly upgrade their infrastructure to keep up with the voracious demand.
At the same time, infrastructure needs (and therefore costs) have gone up, guests’ willingness to pay for Wi-Fi has plummeted. The need for hotel brands to manage network performance centrally and optimize bandwidth across all locations and properties has rapidly become mission-critical.
It’s a well-known fact that hotels of all shapes and sizes want to convert OTA guests into loyal customers. According to Hotel Management, most business travelers would book directly if they got free Wi-Fi. Additionally, more than half of all travelers read online reviews before booking a stay. If your online reviews reflect any negativity towards your Wi-Fi, you are sure to lose some of those direct bookings and potentially loyal guests.
2. Bandwidth is just the beginning of great Wi-Fi
Having a big enough bandwidth pipe to support your guest Internet needs is important, but it’s really just the beginning of delivering great guest Wi-Fi. In fact, many hotels have already taken this first step; boasting fast upload and download speeds is no longer the differentiator it was even just a year ago. There are websites, like hotelwifitest.com, that give guests access to the information they need, including actual bandwidth speeds, to book their stays based on their connection needs.
Hotels need to to think beyond just a bigger pipe to solve their Wi-Fi performance issues. Throwing more bandwidth at the problem isn’t always the answer. In fact, many hotels have plenty of bandwidth. They just have no way of managing or even seeing how that bandwidth is utilized across the property.
3. Disparate systems and providers make Wi-Fi hard to manage
Property-level networking is a tricky business. Historically, guest Wi-Fi was something that was managed at the property level with local information technology or general managers selecting the hardware and service provider to manage the experience. This practice resulted in different experiences at each location within a brand. From inconsistent login pages and processes to varying speeds and prices, the guest Wi-Fi experience left a lot to be desired.
A central authentication platform should make it easy to deliver high-performance Wi-Fi across all devices, locations, and providers. Dynamic authentication options, from short-form to Passpoint™ to social authentication, allow you to deliver a Wi-Fi experience guests love. Fully customizable captive portals with tiered Internet Wi-Fi plans allow hotels to deliver valuable information and services to engage guests and build loyalty. Dynamic network management allows you to manage Wi-Fi performance in real-time with centralized analytics. A robust central authentication platform, like Eleven, streamlines the delivery of great guest Wi-Fi.
4. Wi-Fi is a commodity that’s hard to monetize
It’s important we start to shift the way we think about Wi-Fi. It’s no longer just an IT function; it is a true business asset. Investing in Wi-Fi should be a crucial part of your loyalty strategy. Leverage your captive portal as a marketing and brand asset and extend Wi-Fi management for lucrative conferences and groups.
It’s important that you, your staff, and meeting planners have control over the Internet service offered to various audiences, including hotel guests, conference attendees, and loyalty members. Not only is it valuable for guests to be able to choose their own plan, you can also recoup some of your network costs this way. In fact a recent study of ours showed that 17% of guests chose a higher tier of Internet service when given the option.
5. Managing guest Wi-Fi is too expensive
Delivering and maintaining a great guest Wi-Fi experience is an investment in guest loyalty, but it doesn’t have to be too expensive. In fact, this final hurdle isn’t really a hurdle after all. For the same cost as stocking your guest rooms with shampoo, you can deliver killer guest Wi-Fi. You won’t lose loyalty over some lousy shampoo, but you will over poor Wi-Fi.