Wi-Fi is the New Four-Letter Word for Hoteliers
By Terence Ronson Managing Director, Pertlink Ltd. | May 20, 2012
Open up any Hospitality or travel related publication these days, and most likely the first story you will see is about Wi-Fi - the subject has become as omnipresent as the requirement for the service itself - everyone, and I mean EVERYONE is talking about it!
Check into a hotel, and before you even get to your room, you have an expectation that this hotel is worth its stars, and provided you (just like general utilities - water, heat, light, gas and TV) with Internet access. If it hasn't, then you'd better do a U-turn before hitting the lift button and selecting your floor...
As mentioned in a previous article, prior to the birth of IOS (Apple's operating system), truthfully, we only scratched the surface and played around with implementing Wi-Fi in Hotels. But now, four years later with millions and millions of IOS devices in the hands of millions and millions of our loving guests, this has become the most disruptive of technologies in the modern era. That along with the creation of the smartphone and its Big Brother - the TAB - where there are sales predictions of 153 million units next year, and climbing to 232 million by 2016. This has set loose a tsunami of unparalleled demand - for a strangely invisible service! No wonder CIO's call Wi-Fi a four-letter word.
That's one of the incredible aspects of Wi-Fi - it's invisible, and yet mission critical in importance. Not just for the guest, but also operationally - and most especially, revenue generation and customer loyalty / brand enrichment. Just look at the volume and regularity of surveys being released - by all manner of sources - rating Wi-Fi as the #1 amenity guests' seek - allegedly, even over free breakfast.
Gone are the days when we could simply place a network connection at the desk in the guest room and maybe a few Wi-Fi routers in the corridor servicing a bunch of rooms - with spotty coverage at best. Often with good coverage found only at the front part of the room, near the room door since the Wi-Fi signal would not penetrate through the walls to the back of the room. Surprisingly enough - that's where most desks are located and people want to work - go figure the logic of that one!
Sensibly, based on the demand and importance of this service, one should deploy enterprise-class, building wide, mobile device supporting networks - just like the TelCos (Telephone Company) would in the street. More on that later.