How to Maximize Bandwidth to Support Your Meetings Business

By John D. Robinson Director of Sales, North America, Aptilo Networks | September 04, 2016

Hotels and chains are looking to meet the rising demand for more bandwidth as they ramp up their hotel group meetings business. Throughout the industry, hotels are upgrading (or have recently upgraded) their Wi-Fi to serve in-room guests. Now that these properties are growing their group meetings business, they're finding that their existing bandwidth is no longer sufficient.

Problems can arise when your Wi-Fi service becomes stretched too thin. This can diminish your competitive advantage and even lose business. On a broader level, it can also damage your branding because, let's face it, few things are more frustrating that attending a conference with spotty, unreliable Wi-Fi.

This article will address how Wi-Fi can help you grow your group meetings business, and best practices in deploying. How can hotels maximize bandwidth while minimizing costs, perhaps even while preserving current infrastructure investments?

Why Wi-Fi?

Wi-Fi has been a boon to the lodgings part of the hotel business. This growth can be attributed to the increasing number of smartphones and other devices that are Wi-Fi-enabled. Most if not every guest has a Wi-Fi device, and the majority of these users have more than one device. Think of it: a typical business guest has a smartphone with Wi-Fi, a laptop with Wi-Fi, perhaps a tablet computer such as an iPad (with Wi-Fi), and now with the growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) trend there are smartwatches with Wi-Fi and other devices not traditionally associated with wireless connectivity. The result has been an increased reliance on these devices as guests manage their stay.

This is a great thing. Guests can check in on their own using, for example, their smartphone, making what were once stopping points in the guest experience a breeze. Wi-Fi has decreased user friction, a term that describes the amount of friction, or work, that a user needs to deal with in order to complete a task. Hotels have been using technology to decrease user friction for a long time – I remember the first time I checked out using the hotel channel on the television, and I thought, wow, this is a great idea. It saved me time. It also saved the hotel time and money. In that way, hotels have been a test bed for technology as a means of streamlining user process for years.

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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.