How can the hospitality sector can better secure their Wi-Fi and give their customers the best possible experience?
As an alternative to traditional shared captive portals, we are predicting that venues with longer stays or guests/tenants that need to connect smart devices, particularly hotels, will pivot to systems that provide separate Wi-Fi passwords for each user or room.
In simple terms, these recommended changes would provide each guest user with a private password that they could use to easily log into Wi-Fi, a very similar experience to a home Wi-Fi network.
Here are my top tips for future-proofing your guest Wi-Fi with this new approach so that your customers have the best experience possible.
How it Works
Let’s say you go into a hotel with your partner. Rather than both trying to log into Wi-Fi via a captive portal, a location where you would enter your email address and personal details, you would both simply share a Wi-Fi key (or password) instead. This can even be emailed to you before arrival.
That allows you to see each other's devices on the network just like you would at home and makes it extremely simple to connect to other devices, such as game consoles or digital TVs.
It’s a much more user-friendly experience that gives customers a ‘home away from home’ Wi-Fi experience.
Its importance can’t be underestimated. At the end of 2020, a report showed that 60% of millennials say that free Wi-Fi is their number one perk. Also, 96% of consumers said they preferred establishments that offered free Wi-Fi over not.
Free Wi-Fi remains at the top of hotel guests’ technology demands, reflecting the importance of robust networks and connectivity to the hotel experience, according to HT's 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study.
The ability to set up these private networks is great news for businesses, too. When a staff member goes into the office and needs to get on the Wi-Fi, instead of going onto a shared network with all of their colleagues, they can get a password sent to them prior to their arrival, and then they can quickly and easily log in to their own personal and secure Wi-Fi connection sectioned away from anything or anybody on the network.
It’s Worth It
In simple terms, it’s more secure and gives clients a better experience should they be at a venue for an extended stay or need to connect devices like smart TVs or game consoles.
For hotels, bars, restaurants, venues, tradeshows and places of education, this form of improved guest Wi-Fi makes the experience more personalized for the user but also gives you as a business owner extra security.
51% of guests say free Wi-Fi is an important factor when selecting a restaurant, according toHT's 2021 Customer Engagement Technology Study.
It’s not good security practice to have a Wi-Fi password that never changes; people who revisit are automatically connected to your network and, of course, your neighbors might even be connecting to it. This way, you go into a venue, enter your Wi-Fi password and you’re instantly on the network.
That password will then expire whenever the predefined session is over - whether that’s in an hour, a week, or a year. This flexibility makes this system perfect for a whole range of venues, from hotels to multiple occupancies.
Passwords at Work
In terms of passwords, you could upload a list of users, integrate to other booking or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems or generate passwords on the fly and just before they arrive on-site the system would automatically fire out unique Wi-Fi passwords so they can connect instantly to the internet on arrival.
Having a system which can help manage and distribute your passwords prior to somebody arriving is crucial. As with all security measures, there's always added complexity - but managing this is essential for this new system’s success.
You need to ease admin and hardship for people, so having a system where you can manage users very easily is going to be key in helping with that.
About the Author
Will Evansis Director at WiFi consultancy specialist, Performance Networks, has provided his top tips on how venues and establishments can better secure their WiFi and give their customers the best possible experience.