Checking-In: How Wi-Fi is Transforming the Hospitality Industry

By Christos Karmis President, Mobilite | February 15, 2015

Making a positive connection with guests is a priority for many hotels worldwide. The hospitality industry thrives on being able to anticipate their guests' needs, provide a relaxing experience, and ensure that guests will return to the property in the future. Today, technology plays a major role in how guests rate their overall experience. In fact, travelers are increasingly considering Wi-Fi as more important than TV, room service or other traditional services when providing an overall rating for hotels and resorts. That's why hotels are turning their attention to providing their guests with superior connectivity while on their property – guests expect it.

No Wi-Fi? No Guests

Wi-Fi is no longer a luxury for the well-traveled executive, it's a necessity for everyone traveling, whether it's for business or pleasure. Guests often refer to reviews of a hotel's Wi-Fi connection when making a lodging decision for an upcoming trip, simply because they want to ensure that they will have a positive Wi-Fi experience during their stay. It's fair to assume that if a hotel is not equipped with Wi-Fi access, it will be thrust down to the bottom of the list when it comes to making a choice for accommodations. More hoteliers understand the need for enhanced Wi-Fi, but don't really know where to begin if they decide to change or upgrade their current installation. A simple router won't do the trick when you have hundreds or even thousands of guests trying to access the Wi-Fi network simultaneously.

Understanding the type of Wi-Fi that is right for your property and how it's configured is essential when considering the build out of wireless infrastructure. Most managers in charge of connectivity find the information daunting and are unsure of the logistics behind what a properly installed Wi-Fi system actually looks like. The questions range from something that could be considered simple to those that range among the more complex. How is the property designed? Where are people most likely to congregate? What type of services will be accessed and how much bandwidth will be required? How large of an area does each access point cover? How thick are the walls? Yes, even the texture and density of the structure's walls have a significant effect on the overall outcome of how your Wi-Fi network performs. Unless your onsite team is properly trained, it's best to engage with a wireless infrastructure company who can answer these questions the right way.

Another important item to consider is how the Wi-Fi will be incorporated into guest offerings – should it be part of the in-room entertainment package? Should it be complimentary or part of a resort fee? Should basic access be free, with fees charged for premium or streaming applications? One thing is for certain, the technology needs to be compatible with the latest technologies and wireless standards that devices are using. Knowing what you need is a great place to start when considering a full wireless network build out. Without a plan, days without connectivity may be prolonged, resulting in less revenue for the property. Guests can also perceive slow and unreliable connections as worse than no Wi-Fi availability at all.

Evolution of Wi-Fi

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.