Did you know that guests, when they enter a hotel, in the first 7 seconds they ask for the WiFi password?
Did you know that guests choose hotel based on WiFi quality?
We’ve all experienced bad hotel WiFi… travel books or online searches show that the hotel has “Free WiFi” – and then you find yourself in that same hotel, and live through a bitter experience.
Internet access, whether wired or wireless, doesn’t have to be bad at all. Just stick to the “best practice” guidelines, and your hotel can offer great WiFi experience for guests!
Internet is for your guests
Remember this rule, because this is the biggest reason why you invest in a fast and secure hotel wireless system, all for the better service for your guests. Always listen to your guests, because they are the ones who will tell you in what direction to expand WiFi capacities and services. Before you set up your network, ask yourself: “How do my guests use WiFi and what do they expect from it?”
Security comes first
There are two major challenges when it comes to safe wireless Internet access in hotels:
- How does the hotel secures devices that it does not own (BYOD)
- How does the hotel secures different device types
Today’s security is not concerned with the control of the devices themselves (unless the hotel owns them), but the control of the behavior of these devices online. Network security infrastructure must control the movement of devices over the network, as well as monitor their operation. For this purpose, it is necessary to have a minimum firewall, as well as some kind of authentication. Both functions can be unified into the so-called “Captive portal” software solutions, which monitor both wired and wirelessly connected devices.
After security, the network’s response speed comes in, which implies capacity planning.
It is necessary to have a good understanding of the different types and number of devices that will access the hotel’s wireless network. Also, it is necessary to plan the type of applications that will be used, eg. Do users watch video over the Internet, do they use business chat apps …
Location of wireless access points
A decade ago, it was acceptable to place wireless devices along the corridor, as the devices were more expensive, and the desired goal was to increase signal coverage. Nowadays, with the price of wireless devices falling, as well as the increase in the number of users of these services, devices are placed closer to the users themselves (most often in rooms), all for the sake of high performance. This also makes sense because the guests spend most of their time in the rooms, not in the corridors.
Performance measurement never stops
Using social media like Facebook and Twitter, as well as sites for presenting a hotel (eg. TripAdvisor), guests and even employees have never an easier way to show their dissatisfaction with a hotel service and, therefore, access to the Internet. Combined with increased user expectations, you have a recipe for a bad business model in the event that wireless Internet access does not always work properly. Wireless access is now considered necessary, such as electricity and water. Would you accept that there is no hot water in the 4-star hotel, or that the water is barely flowing? No, I do not believe you would.
To avoid poor criticism and poor quality of work, you need to constantly monitor the quality of the wireless network. To this end, it is necessary to introduce a network management system (NMS), which should include at least the following:
- Monthly health check
- Checking the software on wireless network devices in case the current software version is problematic
- Scheduled system tests
- Proactive warnings
- Event alerts
- Client tracking
Once the wireless network is set up, it may be possible to make changes. Even if everything is fine and properly defined, the wireless network is dynamic and requires further analysis and monitoring. The types of devices that log on to the system are changed, the number of connecting devices increases, and based on this, the radio environment changes. Therefore, the monitoring and maintenance of wireless networks is a continuous cycle.
Choosing the right partner
Designing, implementing, and managing large wireless networks is not an easy task. Some companies have been doing this for many years, and despite their expertise, they learn something new every day, because wireless networks are an area of IT with great dynamics. Wireless networks require experience and skills in implementation. That’s why choosing the right partner is critical to your success.
Many hotels use modern wireless networks, not just for guests and Internet access, but also for increasing their work efficiency, which at the same time leads to improved experiences of their guests.
- Automated check-in, check-out and room selection
- Mobile access to hotel services and room service
- Sending promotions to the guests and advertising the hotel
Hospitality is driven by customers, and they expect a reliable, fast and secure wireless network. The moment has come for you to properly enable them that service, and to support their expectations.