Three Steps Hotels Can Secure and Monetize Free Wi-Fi Networks

By Doug Lodder Senior Vice President of Business Development, Boingo Wireless, Inc. | January 01, 2017

Managing mobile connectivity at hotels has become a cumbersome affair. From soaring mobile data trends to the growing number of devices guests bring on trips, winning over the hyper-connected consumer presents more challenges than ever before.

By the numbers, mobile data traffic is forecasted to increase eightfold by 2020 ; 81 percent of the traffic will be done via a smartphone and 80 percent of data will be consumed on Wi-Fi. This analysis flags two key takeaways for the hospitality industry: the demand for seamless hotel connectivity will only continue to expand and Wi-Fi is a sure bet for powering digital experiences.

There is no question that we are in the midst of a digital revolution, with mobile technology front and center. Advanced Wi-Fi networks have become the necessary vehicle for driving secure connectivity and if overlooked, hotels not only under deliver on the guest experience, but miss out on revenue generating business opportunities.

Content in the Hotel Realm

We know mobile consumption trends are off the charts, but what is causing data demands within the hotel realm? For starters, over-the-top (OTT) video and on-demand streaming.

Most recently, Netflix and Enseo, the makers of an in-room entertainment platform for the hospitality industry, announced an agreement that allows hotel guests to access their Netflix accounts from their rooms and stream their own personal collection of movies and TV shows. Marriott, Hilton and LaQuinta are among the hotel properties that can take advantage of the partnership and unlock yet another perk for guests.

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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.