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Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Drives Sales with Free WiFi Offering

Recent trends indicate that WiFi is increasingly becoming a must-have for public places and consumers are demanding it. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, the oldest and largest privately-held chain of specialty coffee and tea stores in the United States, was interested in adding free WiFi services to their stores as the result of consumers' desire to be online 24/7 and the rise in WiFi capabilities at competitors' locations

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf installed totally free WiFi Internet access at virtually all company-owned stores beginning in July 2008. Unlike many stores that require customers to take the time and enter usernames and password information, The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf Internet is totally free, without the hassle of creating an online account or using a credit card. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf also aimed to provide the best performing Internet connection possible.

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf contracted San Francisco-based service provider Sputnik to install and manage its WiFi hotspot networks. Sputnik has been providing software solutions for WiFi hotspots for over five years and its service is used in more than 100 countries around the world. For The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Sputnik aimed to provide a WiFi experience for its customers that reflected the values of its brand, with the ability to filter out content that is not family friendly. For this they turned to OpenDNS.

Reliable, safer Internet experiences
OpenDNS is a free service that makes the Internet safer, faster, smarter and more reliable. The service has yielded excellent results for Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. Since deploying OpenDNS across WiFi hotspots at all The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf locations, the restaurant chain and its customers have enjoyed a significantly faster and more reliable Internet connection -- to date, OpenDNS has provided The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf 100% uptime, freeing its customers of annoying interruptions to their Internet connectivity and making them overall more productive when doing work online at a The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf store. OpenDNS has also made the Internet safer for The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf patrons, by protecting them from fraudulent "phishing" Web sites -- sites that are made to look like popular Web sites, designed to fool people into entering personal financial information. OpenDNS takes the guesswork out of identifying these sites, and automatically blocks them for people accessing the Internet in a The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf location.

The objective in adding free WiFi was to create local buzz and to keep store lobbies full during non-peak periods. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf has seen an increase in consumers purchasing multiple items due to their extended in-store visit while they use the WiFi. The offering is consistent with the brand position and allows the company to differentiate themselves.

Companies interested in employing WiFi systems should understand the competitive set and be clear about what they want to achieve with free WiFi. Be sure to select great partners like OpenDNS and Sputnik; The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf chose partners that provide the power, scalability and reliability needed to offer great service.

Scott Nicholson has been in the hospitality business for over 25 years. Prior to working at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf he was the vice president of operations services for Baja Fresh Mexican Grill. Currently, he is the senior director of operations services at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf where he is responsible for implementing numerous platforms that help operators manage their business including technology systems like WiFi capabilities. He has been with The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf for almost three years.
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