IHG winning team at HTF 2023

IHG Hotels & Resorts Wins 2023 Hotel Visionary Award for Wi-Fi Auto Connect

Two years of in-house development leads to an amazing product that improves the guest experience immeasurably.
Michal Christine Escobar
Senior Editor, Hotels
escobar

All hoteliers, whether an independent brand with only one property or an international brand with thousands of locations, have a common goal: to provide guests with the best possible on-property experience. IHG Hotels & Resorts (IHG) is no exception. In its quest to enhance the guest experience, the brand knew it had to improve the on-property Wi-Fi experience. 

IHG noticed there was a significant point of friction among guests during the Wi-Fi logon process. Guests had to locate the Wi-Fi network, ask employees for the access code, and would often have to log multiple devices onto the network, one at a time. 

IHG knew it wanted to make that experience much easier. It wanted its guests to have an experience similar to the one they have at home, where individuals automatically connect to their Wi-Fi network without having to reauthenticate their devices each time they step out of their home and get back in. But the hotel brand knew that improving this guest experience was also an opportunity for it to create an even deeper connection with its loyalty members. 

“We pride ourselves on building a valuable relationship with our loyalty members,” says an IHG spokesperson “We want them to feel like they are coming into a hotel that really knows them and offers a tech experience that efficient and easy to use. And we want them to have that same experience at every IHG hotel, no matter where they are in the world.”

The Creation of Wi-Fi Auto Connect

The IHG team spent two years developing in-house the product that would eventually come to be called: Wi-Fi Auto Connect. Launched in June 2023, this innovative feature automatically connects IHG One Rewards members’ mobile devices to the Wi-Fi at every single one of IHG Hotels worldwide. All it requires is for guests to sign up for the hotel’s loyalty program, download the IHG One Rewards loyalty app on their mobile device, and enable the Wi-Fi Auto Connect feature.

Wi-Fi Auto Connect leverages Passpoint technology while addressing some of its gaps. For example, Wi-Fi Auto Connect allows IHG to identify a guest by their loyalty ID so that the hotel is able to provide that specific guest with personalized interactions while they are staying at the hotel. 

Visionary Awards at HTF 2023
Visionary Awards at HTF 2023

“We also utilized IHG EDGE, a SAAS platform developed by technology startup Bellinta, in conjunction with Cisco Meraki and HPE Aruba infrastructure to enable a consistent internet onboarding experience for our guests,” IHG added.

All this was possible because of IHG’s consistent internet solution called IHG Connect which spans 5000+ hotels around the world. 

Happy Guests, Happy Hoteliers

IHG Hotels & Resorts see more than 5.3 million monthly Wi-Fi logins globally at more than 5,000 hotels across 84 countries. On average, guests connect to Wi-Fi within 7 minutes of arriving on property, and IHG has successfully saved guests 10.5 million minutes, which is equivalent to 7,291 days of people asking, "What's the Wi-Fi password?" Since the launch there have been more than 1.5 million downloads of the Wi-Fi Auto Connect profile on guest devices through the IHG app and an average of more than 37,000 Wi-Fi onboarding each day using this feature.

Guest satisfaction scores on internet experience at properties around the world with this feature have been quite positive. 

“IHG Wi-Fi Auto Connect again worked as advertised. Looked down at my phone and it had already connected without any action needed on my part,” says one guest visiting Kimpton Palomar Miami.

“New connect process for IHG Wi-Fi was seamless. I have the feature turned on and it auto connected without issue. That was really nice!” says another guest visiting Crowne Plaza Melbourne-Oceanfront.

But guests aren’t the only ones who love it. General Managers are incredibly happy with the technology as well!

“Love this Auto Connect Functionality. Very convenient for guests and time saving for front office staff,” writes Ritesh Shah, General Manager at Holiday Inn & Suites Mississauga West – Meadowvale.

“This is great for our frequent business travelers and frequent parents travelling to see their college students. We are near UB Buffalo so we get repeat guests and this is a great feature,” states Lisa Henderson, Front Office Manager at Candlewood Suites Buffalo Amherst.

More than Just Great Wi-Fi

While the IHG team obviously meant to improve the guest’s Wi-Fi experience with Auto Connect, it’s also found that this feature has incentivized guests to not only download but keep the brand’s mobile app on their phones. This allows the brand to continue engaging with guests via push notifications, ensuring it stays top of mind when guests are planning their vacations. 

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