For many hotel guests, Wi-Fi is a necessary amenity. It allows people to stay connected while traveling the globe with devices like smartphones, watches, tablets and laptops. A 2016 survey revealed 40 percent of people think Wi-Fi is more important than sex, chocolate and alcohol. And 72 percent of people have made a hotel reservation based on the wireless internet experience.
If you want to be known as the hotel with perfect Wi-Fi — the one that brings all the tech-savvy travelers through the front doors — follow the eight golden rules below.
1. Consider Your Guests
A quick, reliable Wi-Fi network is done wholly for the guest experience. Understand what factors are most critical to guests when using wireless internet. Most will want to browse social media, share photos and make video calls. Others will need the ability to stream movies from sites like Netflix and Hulu. Always be aware of your guests’ wants and needs before making decisions about your wireless network.
2. Think About Security
Today’s internet security is not about controlling the devices that connect to your network — that battle is a lost cause. At a hotel where guests are checking in and out each day, it would be impossible to regulate devices. Instead, a firewall and role-based controls can manage where people can go once connected to your network. And look out for nearby Wi-Fi networks with the same name as your hotel — this could be a hacker trying to dupe guests.
3. Use Professional Equipment
You can’t give guests the type of experience they expect without professional equipment. A modem is what connects you to a network, while a router allows you to connect multiple devices at once. Many people have a modem/router combination in their homes, but large businesses — like a hotel — often need several routers to provide a strong signal. Look for a wireless set-up that allows for scalability, so you can grow as needed.
4. Plan For Capacity
If you want to develop the perfect wireless network, determine your hotel’s desired capacity so you can keep up with demand. If too many people try to log onto a weak system, the whole set-up could collapse. Have a clear understanding of the types and number of devices that will be accessing your Wi-Fi. And consider how guests plan to use the network — social media, email, Netflix, Skype? Preparing for the right number of guests is crucial for delivering on performance.
5. Test Modem Placement
It can be hard to find the sweet spot when it comes to modem and router placement. Keep in mind that concrete, brick walls and other physical objects can weaken a wireless signal, which is why many large buildings hang internet equipment from the ceiling. Electronics like microwaves and cordless phones also cause obstructions. Visit different areas of the hotel, including far-flung rooms, to see how signals compare.
6. Offer Quick Speeds
Technology, including Wi-Fi, is advancing at a rapid pace. New devices are always around the corner. Your guests will expect high-speed internet that allows for online browsing without interruption. As technology changes, you might have to upgrade your system to ensure proper function. Every three to four years, assess your wireless network and determine areas for improvement.
7. Optimize Performance
How can you make your guests’ Wi-Fi experience better? Go on review sites like Google and Facebook and see what past guests have to say. Use the search tool to look up variations of words like “Wi-Fi” and “internet.” Do guests think the internet is too slow? Perhaps some experienced a spotty connection in their room? Negative feedback can help you take action on areas that need improvement.
8. Keep Separate Networks
Every hotel should have two separate wireless networks — one for guests and one for operations. Two networks prevent any guest from accidentally or intentionally accessing sensitive business information. The hotel network should provide enough speed to cover back-of-house procedures, point-of-sale systems, reservations, administrative tools and more. The guest network, on the other hand, must allow for flawless browsing on a variety of sites.
Wi-Fi is an essential amenity guests look for when deciding where to book. If you want to be the hotel with perfect Wi-Fi, follow the eight rules above. Start with upgrading your equipment and looking for the best placement. Have a firewall in place to protect guests from security threats like hackers. And keep looking for new ways to improve your hotel’s Wi-Fi experience.