There used to be days when premium movie channels and free continental breakfast served as top hotel qualities. But contemporary travelers have quickly changed the way the hospitality industry addresses guest needs and differentiators. In this new dynamic era, at the intersection of innovation and lifestyle, seamless connectivity has become a major deciding factor.
On top of all the added amenities that business travelers, vacationers, or regular guests expect is the ability to quickly connect to reliable internet. They need to FaceTime with family back home, send email updates to colleagues, or stream movies in between taking dips in the pool. Those kinds of new customer experiences could not happen with slow or spotty connectivity.
Ninety-six percent of travelers bring along at least one mobile device during stays, a 10 percent increase from 2016. Plus, a majority of business and leisure travelers listed a destination’s connectivity abilities as the most important detail when choosing where to stay. That means we must redefine the hospitality industry’s approach to the deployment and operation of Wi-Fi, IoT, LTE and DAS networks.
An often underappreciated aspect of wireless connectivity is that traffic always rides on a wire connection eventually. In telecom jargon, it’s called backhaul, bringing data traffic to the internet or other non-local destinations. It’s an issue that isn’t necessarily customer-facing, but nevertheless essential. If hotel owners and managers want to maintain robust wireless building systems that help give guests flawless experiences, a crucial step in that journey is to modernize their underlying data infrastructure by turning to fiber. Here are three main reasons why.
- It’s Future-Proof
Today’s hotel guests use more data for longer periods of time, and across more devices, than ever before. Nobody knows how it will evolve, but, technologically speaking, the only thing we can be sure of is that this usage trend is will not go backwards anytime soon.
While full fifth generation (5G) connectivity is one step away from being a reality, the robust and expandable capacity of the optical infrastructure built using fiber is 5G-ready and deployed. It’s waiting to carry the next technological wave that will transform the connectivity standards of the hospitality industry.
It would also empower hotels to explore the customer experience innovations. Internet of Things uses include sensors that respond to changes in room temperatures, humidity, lighting, ventilation, and other variables to benefit hotel guest comfort, and energy savings. It could also enable the technology that detects building system anomalies, like water leaks, temperature changes or electricity surges, or other diagnostic information that is essential for building managers.
Anticipating the essential cutting edge nature of something like 5G with fiber-based connectivity will provide an almost infinitely expandable amount of bandwidth needed to support wireless internet required for the already daunting performance expectations from guests.
- It’s Reliable
As noted, there's always a wire connection, even when your device is connected wirelessly. Copper cables — used for DSL and coaxial cable connections — corrode over time, are costly to operate and maintain, and require amplifiers to boost signals. These are some reasons that contribute to their poor performance issues.
Fiber is more reliable overall because it’s made of glass and maintains concentrated amplification. A single fiber signal can travel upwards of 60 miles — a distance that, for example, far exceeds any run needed to service hotels through the five boroughs of New York City. Contrast that with multiple amplifications needed using copper infrastructure that complicate signals all the way back to core routers, and it’s easy to see why problems plague copper networks.
Plus, any fiber installation now would likely last for decades, mitigating oppressive maintenance costs and guest annoyances that come with the constant need for upgrades. It’s simply a matter of ensuring that these critical collective building systems are in place to ensure guest satisfaction.
- It’s Secure
Hotels must take steps to guarantee the digital security of all customers as well. This means having the ability to filter out unwanted online traffic or users to leave bandwidth resources safely open for the guests that truly need it.
Unlike wireless, fiber connectivity is secure by its nature with dedicated wavelength connections that cannot be diverted or hacked. While wireless security should be a primary focus as the weakest link, once data traffic hits fiber, it is secure. There's no way to break in to fiber without knowing it’s been broken into.
As spaces in the hospitality industry invest time, effort, and money into establishing future-focused wireless connectivity, fiber remains the essential infrastructure option. It is the only choice that meets guests’ burgeoning expectations and hotel managers the peace-of-mind that they will have sufficient capacity, reliability and security. In all, fiber simplifies operations, benefits cost management, and reinforces traveler trust and loyalty.