Wi-Fi - Are You Leaving Money on the Table?

By Alan Lindquist Regional Director, Skyriver Communications | May 13, 2012

Companies and employees are consuming broadband at enormous usage rates today. Access to fast, reliable broadband Internet is now business critical for the vast majority of industries and companies. Business professionals travel with multiple devices and run a multitude of applications, usually simultaneously. This necessity of being reliably connected and always working while attending meetings and conventions presents a clear opportunity for hotels to transform their Wi-Fi offering into a powerful revenue generator.

Wi-Fi done right, represents a great opportunity to increase your revenue. Let's start with differentiation. When you positively differentiate yourself from competitive business meeting venues, you immediately provide a tangible reason for business guests to do business with you. Thus, you attract new customers and new revenue. Secondly, these new customers are higher value customers. They will spend significant monies on high speed Internet, guest rooms, food, meeting rooms, and all the ancillary services required for business meetings. As these guests will no doubt have a positive and productive meeting, you'll also see increased revenues via repeat business.

In addition to generating more gross revenue, we can't forget the profitability or margin side of your Wi-Fi business. Net revenue is about balancing the new revenue with expenses. Hotels have invested significant dollars in their Wi-Fi infrastructure and are constantly upgrading their systems to new technologies such as 802.11g, and now 802.11n, which promise more bandwidth. However, if the connectivity to the hotel becomes the "real bottleneck", then your hotel guests will not see the benefits of your technology upgrades as guests will experience slow connections.

To prevent this "slow bottleneck" you need to find a broadband service provider with the flexibility to meet your guests' needs as well as your hotel budget needs. If you're relying on the copper technology of phone companies, say a few T1s, or fiber connections from a cable company, then you probably have a service that's not going to be able to scale up and down to meet your variable meeting and conference usage demands. Instead, you'll want to look for a company that allows you to scale your speeds from one week to another without time-consuming forms to fill out or costly installation crews to dispatch.

A technology that is especially well-suited for meetings and events is fixed wireless. Fixed wireless provides reliable bandwidth that is built and dedicated just for your property. It's a microwave connection that delivers the full and complete bandwidth that you contract for. The service is fully protected with advanced encryption and safety protocols, so it's as safe is it is reliable, and can deliver speeds to 200 Mbps.

Without a scalable Internet service, such as that of fixed wireless, you run the risk either disappointing your guests with too little bandwidth or paying for bandwidth you don't always need. The most frequent complaints of hotel guests are pages and files are slow to load, they cannot get on the Internet or get bounced off, applications cannot load, uploads are painstakingly slow, and demonstrations freeze and cannot be performed in real time. All of these risk damaging the productivity and entertainment value of an otherwise pleasant and happy stay at your property.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.