Many people still view wifi as a service that connects people wirelessly to the internet. While that is completely true, it is likely you will be amazed at what else wifi can do.
Upselling hotel services
Typically the accommodation website is about acquiring new guests and is not designed specifically to sell and cater to guest needs while they are at the accommodation complex.
Just as we are seeing shopping centres use wifi to deliver store directories to their shoppers, hotels are now looking at using wifi as a means of delivering their hotel portal. Effectively digitising the hotel compendium and moving it directly into people’s hands, regardless of their location. For instance, there is no longer any need to be sitting in your guestroom in front of the TV just to order hotel room service or book accommodation facilities.
Open access to hotel landing pages, credentials to access the free wifi
Most wifi at accommodation complexes works this way – connect to the hotel wifi at will, but to do anything such as browse the Internet, you will need to enter some credentials. The new trend is to provide open access to the hotel wifi landing pages, which include numerous links talking about the hotel services and promotions– even providing links to third-party services like airport shuttles.
General access to browse the internet is restricted to accommodation guests, but the new approach is to use every mechanism and opportunity to promote the property itself.
Free versus paid-for wifi
A very topical subject. Some hotel chains are trying to follow a path of unrestricted, free access while others are offering a free limit after which you can continue browsing – at a price!
There are arguments for both strategies; however, the absolutely core issue here is to clearly set the expectation with your customer base. For example, marketing that you offer free wifi but then setting a 150Mb or even 500Mb daily limit can create customer dissatisfaction.
Customers want to clearly understand what they are paying for and what they are getting. Whether free or paid-for, our research suggests that customers simply want to know.
Data and usage trends
When looking at hotel supplies like linen, soaps, cleaning products and so forth, the industry is little changed from five years ago. Wifi, on the other hand, is changing dramatically. You are virtually guaranteed to find that the system you put in five years ago to manage your wifi no longer does the job. This is largely because of three factors.
1. Devices – five years ago when a family came to stay at an accommodation complex, they probably brought one or two devices with them at most. Today the typical family is bringing multiple devices; smartphones, tablets, laptops, etc. From one device, a family will commonly now arrive with six. This means your system needs to cope with up to six times more logins per room than previously.
2. Data consumption – five years ago, if you had given your guests a 20Mb daily allowance, many would have had trouble using it up. Today, simply running updates on your phone can easily use a couple hundred megabytes, if not more.
3. Speed – today there are many applications and services on the Internet that require a fast connection in order to work. These include things like voice-over Internet calls, gaming and in particular movie streaming services like Netflix. Many hotels are still using a standard ADSL connection to service their guest needs. For many of these services, for instance, should five or six of your guests choose to watch Netflix at the same time, your available service will be consumed leaving nothing for your remaining guests
So wifi is changing and continuing to change. Accommodation providers need to plan ahead to meet their wifi needs because if you simply install a system that meets today’s needs, then without doubt within six months, your new system will already be out of date
Metadata and government regulation
Governments around the world are tightening the rules relating to monitoring and tracking internet usage. Metadata is now required to be held for up to two years. This data also needs to be held in a safe and encrypted form. Most accommodation complexes do not have these capabilities and so it is critical to ensure your wifi supplier is meeting and complying with the latest government regulations. While penalties and fines are not as yet being levied on non-complying hotels, this will no doubt soon begin to occur
The final trend in the wifi space is using it for operational purposes
For example, tracking can be attached to items so they can be readily located but also for security and anti-theft purposes. Wifi is being used widely to replace the large cost of cabling and connecting devices. Even things like a door alarm can utilise the wifi system as an alternative to cabling receptors reaching every door.