Wireless Upgrades: An Invisible Improvement in Guest Experience
As general manager at the Hotel Phillips in Kansas City, Missouri, I recently supervised a massive, property-wide technology upgrade. Constructed in 1931, Hotel Phillips’ lobby feels like entering the past: Elaborate bronze metalwork, walnut paneling, and Art Deco details are everywhere you look. Our building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
But we needed to bring this old property into the future while preserving its past. Hotel Phillips now boasts a historic backbone with high-tech infrastructure to support it for years to come. Retrofitting an old building with new technological infrastructure didn’t come without a few unique, technical challenges.
Fun Facts About the Author
What technologies excite you?
I love the new IE stuff coming out
What is one piece of sage advice that you would pass on to others in the industry?
Have Fun – inspect what you expect
What is one other job that you would like to try?
High school football coach
What is one goal that you would like to achieve in your life?
Being a grandpa
What three people would you invite to lunch?
Conrad Hilton, Patrick Mahomes, John Wooden
What is your favorite movie?
National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Here are a few tips we picked up along the way:
Find the right wireless provider.
Find a provider that can deploy custom technology solutions designed for your specific property and guest needs. As a property on the National Register of Historic Places, we had to be especially careful to ensure that the technology company we selected would creatively work around any structural challenges. Windstream (www.windstreamenterprise.com) provided our equipment and we selected Velociti Inc. (www.velociti.com) to deploy a number of upgrades and wireless technology solutions.
Get ready for many more APs.
Prior to the upgrade, we only had six access points across the entire hotel. Now there are 24 access points in the general public area and a wireless access point installed in each room.
Know the layout of the building
How is each room set up? Do you know the makeup of the walls? What structural challenges can you anticipate? When Hotel Phillips was constructed, architects cobbled together different building materials: brick, concrete, even wires. It’s important to do a lot of testing to make you don’t have places of interference.
Don’t skimp on speed/bandwidth.
Anticipate how much speed and bandwidth you need to support all types of guests. Today’s families bring iPads, smart phones and laptops so that everyone can stay entertained at the same time. Your property needs to have the bandwidth to support your guests’ expectations.
Prepare for challenging cable pathways.
With so many new access points, we had to test and certify more than 200 new cables. But knowing where to run those new cables is another challenge entirely. It’s important your deployment company has multiple meetings with the facilities maintenance department to find those pathways. Old buildings often have abandoned heating tunnels that were repurposed for heating pipes or ductwork. These spaces can be hard to find, but in our case, they became a useful resource.
The future is here. Don’t delay.
As we move into a new decade, hotels must consider how to prepare their buildings to support future innovations. Wireless infrastructure plays a silent but important role in delivering an outstanding guest experience.