Quality Wi-Fi service has become a table-stakes amenity for the hospitality industry. For instance, a recent survey of 8,000 hotels in the United States by the American Hotel & Lodging Association found that high speed in-room Internet plus wireless access is now an industry norm, with 98 percent of hotels offering the service.
At the Grand Victorian, a first-class hotel located in the heart of downtown Old Orchard Beach, Maine, Wi-Fi is one of the first services we get asked about by guests. It is important because they often need to stay connected to work and email even while taking a break. And children staying at our facility are big internet consumers too – with online videos and gaming. We find that most families are bringing two or more mobile devices and look to connect them to Wi-Fi during their travels.
While we offered free service, we were feeling the ire of guests due to our poor-performing Wi-Fi system that they experienced during their stays. Guests consistently wrote in online reviews that they could only give the Grand Victorian four out of five stars because our Wi-Fi service was terrible.
These reviews became a call to action for us to make improvements.
In looking to make necessary changes, we faced a couple of obstacles. First, our facility is a steel and concrete building full of nooks and crannies that make it hard to deliver coverage everywhere, creating dead zones that had no service. And our units range in size from 900 to 2400 square feet – so we would need experts who could provide a customized approach to address our specific needs.
Second, like most lodging staff, our team is not technical – and we have no on-site tech support on staff. That means our first line of support for guests or to troubleshoot system glitches is me, and I am no wireless internet professional. So we wanted to find a managed system – one where our service provider could manage the system remotely. The provider also needed to be readily accessible to help guests who have issues.
We turned to a Managed Wireless Local Area Network service from FairPoint Communications. FairPoint has partnered with ADTRAN to provide cloud-managed Wi-Fi based on ADTRAN’s ProCloud Plus solution.
The installation and training processes went smoothly. The new service eliminated our coverage dead zones and the training taught us how to identify Wi-Fi issues. The service comes with an online dashboard which allows us to see the status of every wireless router in the building and determine how many guests are connected, along with who has used the service the most.
When technical support is needed, our guests call the service help desk and hear, “FairPoint Support Center” – or it can be customized with “Grand Victorian.” Many hotel guests are not internet savvy and the help desk is always there to walk guests through the service log-in process. On service calls, the help desk knows the caller is from the Grand Victorian, which makes us look more professional to our guests.
The FairPoint service has delivered the high-speed, reliable Wi-Fi service our guests expect. It has also freed me from the daily operations and management of our Wi-Fi system which gives me more time to service our guests. And best of all, since our new Wi-Fi service was activated this past summer, we have not received a single negative review.
Ryan Saucier is the owner and manager of Grand Real Estate Management, which manages The Grand Victorian Hotel Condominium in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.