Trends in Wireless: Multiple Device Support and Mobile Data Offloading

By Jason Guest Account Manager, Americas, Aptilo Networks | January 06, 2013

Hotels have recognized that offering guests wireless access, or hotel Wi-Fi, is becoming a necessity. Guests expect Wi-Fi as a standard amenity; Wi-Fi is even becoming a deciding factor for guests investigating their options for an upcoming hotel stay.

It used to be that guests would bring a laptop and a smartphone with limited Internet capability, and even with these two devices perhaps one would connect wirelessly. Remember the Big Blue Cable that was a staple of every hotel room? That cable was your connection to the Internet, hardwired into the wall.

Today the majority of guests bring multiple devices – laptop, a powerful smartphone with expanded Internet browsing capabilities, tablet computers, gaming devices etc. – and all of these devices are hungry for Wi-Fi. The electronics manufacturing industry has found that Wi-Fi is a great technology that keeps customers happy: devices use less battery power when they're on Wi-Fi compared to the mobile network, users generally don't have to eat up their cellular minutes when surfing the Internet on Wi-Fi and devices seem to run faster. In fact, many devices are designed specifically to perform best over Wi-Fi, and some applications only work over Wi-Fi. The end result: hotel guests with lots of Wi-Fi-enabled devices, all of which are primed to gobble up loads of bandwidth.

To Bill or Not To Bill?

The ability to charge for wireless access can be a tremendous source of revenue for hotels, and this potential is growing significantly as more and more devices become wirelessly enabled.

Business-focused properties and the more upscale hotel chains are, for the most part, charging for Wi-Fi. From a business standpoint this makes sense since their guests are generally business travelers and/or power users of technology. They would likely bring several devices such as a laptop, smartphone, tablet computer and be looking to connect them to Wi-Fi.

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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.