By Jeff Gudewicz

The hospitality industry is changing; clean sheets and friendly personnel are no longer enough to satisfy the average guest anymore. Fast Wi-Fi and strong cell signal are the new necessities strongly impacting customer care and guests’ overall experiences.

Unfortunately, due to their vast size and construction materials, hotels can often have inadequate, spotty cell phone service that can vary from floor to floor, and even room to room. Compounding this problem, many hotel chains have also removed in-room landline phones from their rooms due to low usage as guests increasingly rely on their mobile phones.

Excellent cell phone service is a crucial competitive advantage for hotels, making a lack of coverage a huge issue – not only for hotel guests, but also for staff. Poor cell signal can make guest satisfaction plummet, resulting in lowered work productivity, inability to stay in touch with loved ones and more. Also, many hotel staff rely on CRM software such as Guestware or Hyp3R that send and manage hotel requests via cell phones. Without good cell signal, the staff can’t adequately perform their jobs, which could ultimately result in a loss of guest loyalty.

Thankfully, there’s a solution hotels can employ to ensure their guests and staff have access to excellent cell signal coverage. To ensure strong connectivity throughout their buildings, hotels have begun installing passive distributed antenna systems (DAS) which amplify cellular signal as much as 32 times.

What is Passive DAS?

Of North America’s 5.6 million commercial buildings, 98 percent are actually 200,000 square feet or less. When these commercial spaces are challenged with adequate coverage, passive DAS is the most economical solution. Passive DAS provides coverage for all wireless carriers simultaneously at a lower installation cost. It does not require a backhaul or expensive fixed connectivity such as T1 fiber optic lines for the building. Passive DAS also boosts voice and data speeds for 4G LTE, 2G and existing 3G networks.

Passive DAS is made up of a series of antennas, cables, and amplifiers. A passive DAS has an outside antenna, also referred to as a donor antenna, which collects all available cellular signals in the area. All of those are connected to a bi-directional amplifier through a coaxial cable routed inside the building. Then, the bi-directional amplifier routes the amplified signals to indoor server antennas. It collects simultaneous signals from all carriers, filters them, amplifies them, and broadcasts them inside.

Connecting the Marriott Oak Brook Hotel

The Chicago Marriott Oak Brook hotel was looking for an indoor-cellular amplifier system to increase back-of-house cell signal and improve employee communications and overall guest service. They needed an inexpensive solution that would work with all carriers and could be integrated quickly.

The Marriott Oak Brook chose a passive DAS to tackle the problem because they could customize the solution to meet their exact needs and put the coverage anywhere they wanted. At this hotel, they simply needed improved cell signal in the basement, back-of-house and first floor. In addition, finding a solution that enabled coverage for all wireless carriers was a huge advantage.

After installing their passive DAS solution, the Marriott Oak Brook experienced improved communication between the back of the house and the front desk, which led to better and more efficient customer care.

When it comes to hosting travelers or entertaining guests, the hospitality industry knows no bounds. Society has fully embraced mobile technology, and it’s critical that hotels and resorts leverage mobile connectivity to keep a competitive advantage and deliver a great guest experience.