Three Steps to Securing and Monetizing Free Wi-Fi Networks

By Doug Lodder Senior Vice President of Business Development, Boingo Wireless, Inc. | January 01, 2017

Managing mobile connectivity at hotels has become a cumbersome affair. From soaring mobile data trends to the growing number of devices guests bring on trips, winning over the hyper-connected consumer presents more challenges than ever before.

By the numbers, mobile data traffic is forecasted to increase eightfold by 2020; 81 percent of the traffic will be done via a smartphone and 80 percent of data will be consumed on Wi-Fi. This analysis flags two key takeaways for the hospitality industry: the demand for seamless hotel connectivity will only continue to expand and Wi-Fi is a sure bet for powering digital experiences.

There is no question that we are in the midst of a digital revolution, with mobile technology front and center. Advanced Wi-Fi networks have become the necessary vehicle for driving secure connectivity and if overlooked, hotels not only under deliver on the guest experience, but miss out on revenue generating business opportunities.

Content in the Hotel Realm

We know mobile consumption trends are off the charts, but what is causing data demands within the hotel realm? For starters, over-the-top (OTT) video and on-demand streaming.

Most recently, Netflix and Enseo, the makers of an in-room entertainment platform for the hospitality industry, announced an agreement that allows hotel guests to access their Netflix accounts from their rooms and stream their own personal collection of movies and TV shows. Marriott, Hilton and LaQuinta are among the hotel properties that can take advantage of the partnership and unlock yet another perk for guests.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.