Travel is booming once again – with air travel demand spiking 12% this past June compared to the same month last year. Whether personal or professional or a bit of both, it’s a hot time for travel, which of course means increased traffic to hotels. Properties need to be prepared for the influx of returning customers and their evolving needs. Robust WiFi is often at the top of the list and property managers may find that if they have not looked into upgrading their guest networks in recent years, they may lose business to those who have.
A NETGEAR consumer survey found that one in five Americans would be willing to give up sleep, among other things, to ensure they had flawless, high-speed WiFi. Each traveler has their own unique expectations and WiFi needs. Many use their rooms as remote offices, relying on the provided network for increasingly bandwidth-heavy work. And families traveling together bring at least one (often more) wireless device per person and expect to use them simultaneously in their room, from the pool and other common areas. They are also bringing devices running on the latest technology, including the latest WiFi standards – WiFi 6, 6E and even 7—expecting them all to run as seamlessly as they do at home.
Another survey revealed 87% of American travelers would be less likely to book a vacation property with bad internet reviews, 64% consider internet speed when booking a vacation stay, and 62% would be willing to pay extra for a vacation property with good internet. Properties that prioritize reliable, fast WiFi for guests will see the returns positively impact not only guest experience, but their bottom lines. Despite the growing reliance on WiFi, properties may be missing out on a key marketing opportunity by only listing the availability of free WiFi rather than the quality of that amenity –speed, capacity, platform – on their sites.
With the swelling interest in travel and the increasing number of WiFi-enabled activities that guests rely on, hotel operators should look internally at the quality of their networks to ensure a smooth experience. Here are a few things for properties to think about with regard to optimizing their networks for the best possible guest experience and stellar reviews:
Upgrade to the latest WiFi
Upgrading your network is a great investment that adds value for years to come and it does not have to be cost prohibitive. You don’t have to start from scratch, but simply add some new access points that support the latest WiFi standards. Adding new or more nodes can also help to boost your coverage area, especially to areas where WiFi signal is weak or intermittent. Look for a vendor with a broad portfolio of cost-effective, scalable options that match your goals for speed, capacity and budget.
Many guests rotate in and out of a property’s network and it would be disastrous if there was a breach. This means robust network security should be a top priority. Work with an expert to ensure your network is configured to completely block visibility between guest devices. On corporate networks, devices are visible to one another for business purposes. However, to protect guests’ privacy, the network should be locked down so guests cannot see one another’s devices. The network provided to the guests must also be securely separated from the surveillance cameras and physical access points (i.e., door locks) that are now commonly on IP networks. This way, there are no risks to guests if these assets become compromised.
Don’t go it alone
Consult an expert – a vendor or service provider that will help you design the best network for your company’s and guests’ needs. A good partner will do a site survey and provide a heatmap of your property that indicates where network devices should be added or placed for optimal coverage and performance. Ease of ongoing management is important to consider whether your network will be maintained by a service provider or in house. Look for solutions that come with a cloud-based management platform so that every aspect of your network – on site or across multiple sites – can be supported and serviced from a single pane of glass.
Stand out from the crowd
Use your robust, pervasive WiFi in your marketing and on your web site where you describe your amenities. Your investment can serve as a differentiator that draws guests to your property and ensures they have best experience possible.
WiFi is a priority for all travelers today – business and leisure alike – and hotel properties need to meet the needs of their guests. Prioritizing a strong network can have a great payoff too. If a guest leaves a review raving about WiFi, it can tip off to other prospective guests that are looking for a flawless connection during their stay – ultimately driving more business to the property.