Un-Wiring Your Meeting Rooms

By Jason Guest Account Manager, Americas, Aptilo Networks | July 21, 2013

Meeting and conference rooms are an untapped source of revenue for hotels when it comes to wireless. Until now, the big tech trend in the hospitality sector has been in-room wireless, catering to the increasing numbers of guests using wirelessly-enabled tablets, smartphones, gaming devices and of course laptops. In response, hotels have been offering free or premium wireless access, and it's been a powerful competitive differentiator as well as a means of generating new revenue. Guests have embraced this wireless access. For some power travelers (and even families), a hotel that doesn't offer fast wireless is just something they won't even consider.

Wireless has now moved to the meeting room, and as a company that has served hundreds of hotels and hotel chains, we at Aptilo anticipate conference room adoption of wireless will take the same track as guest Internet access: while at first it will be a way to stand out from competitors, soon guests will come to expect wireless in their meeting facilities. And that wireless has to perform well – fast Internet speeds, easy to access, simple login (no multiple logins) no matter how many devices one user brings with them, basically a great user experience.

This is good news for the hospitality industry, as unwiring your meeting rooms can create new revenue streams, boost your brand and give you a competitive edge.

Understand How Wireless will Be Used

Before you implement wireless for your meeting rooms, review what your needs are based on your facility and your typical meeting room customer. Do you have several meeting rooms in a single facility? Do you manage a large exhibition hall? Do you currently have wireless available for your in-room guests and, if so, is it possible to share that bandwidth or do you need more to accommodate the conference center?

Another question to consider is this: how accessible is wireless from the convention facilities or meeting rooms? For example, one of Aptilo's hospitality customers owns a large hotel that had great wireless coverage. Their convention center is situated behind the hotel, in a virtual wireless "dead zone." The facility manager noticed this issue once he realized that many of their business guests were leaving the convention hall to use their phones, frustrated in their search for a wireless signal. For this customer, the ability to implement a Wi-Fi hotspot dedicated to the convention center provided much-needed relief for guests, and had the effect of keeping them in the convention facility for a longer period of time, participating in the meetings rather that running in and out to check email or return an urgent phone call.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.