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Are you planning to upgrade your hotel’s internet plan or open a new hotel with top-of-the-line high-speed hotel wifi solutions? If you think you can install internet at your hotel using the same local vendor and pricing you have at home, think again. To maintain strong, reliable internet connections throughout your guestrooms and public areas, your hotel must work with an enterprise-level internet vendor.
we’ll review the essentials of hospitality WiFi: why it’s important, what features it brings, and what benefits you can realize with a good WiFi partner. We’ll also discuss why hotels can’t simply use the same type of internet service you have at home and offer some advice for pricing, contracts, and implementation. You’ll soon be able to make a well-informed decision about bringing hospitality WiFi to your property.
To today’s guests, WiFi is a basic necessity. Just like clean sheets and a door that locks, guests expect your hotel to offer WiFi. But it’s not only guests who need to access the internet at your property; modern hotel operations rely on an internet connection too. Critical operational tasks like accepting reservations and payments, setting staff schedules, sending invoices to vendors, and monitoring security systems all require reliable internet. All this is to say that your hotel cannot function well if your WiFi is slow, unreliable, or unsecure for any period of time.
Hotels have different WiFi needs than an individual internet user, so an enterprise-level hospitality WiFi service is the best choice for connectivity at your property. Perhaps the only exception is if you operate a very small B&B that’s the same size as a modest house. Hotels need WiFi that’s exceptionally reliable, able to handle a lot of users (hotel guests and staff) at the same time, and secure enough to protect guests’ and the hotel’s sensitive data, like credit card numbers. For optimal security and speed, many hotels even want separate networks for guest and back-of-house use, with some hotels opting for separate networks for each guestroom.
Finding the right Hospitality Wi-Fi Solutions solution for your hotel depends on several variables ranging from user experience and pricing to functionality and support.
This guide is designed to help you identify the best Hospitality Wi-Fi Solutions vendors, questions to ask on demos, read unbiased reviews from similar hoteliers and so much more.
What are the benefits of Hospitality WiFi?
In the hospitality industry, guest wi-fi speed has a strong correlation with guest satisfaction scores - and that’s especially true for business travelers. Happier guests and more efficient operations are the two main benefits you can gain by implementing WiFi service that’s catered specifically for the hotel industry. These are big, meaty benefits, so let’s unpack them a little.
WiFi is a type of amenity that guests will only mention if they’re dissatisfied. If guests aren’t talking about your hotel’s WiFi, that’s a good sign that things are working well. But when guests start to complain about slow speeds, unreliable connections, or a network password that doesn’t work, then you’ve potentially lost that guest’s trust and loyalty permanently. Strong WiFi can unlock a slew of benefits for each individual guest: they can browse the web, participate in video calls, work, or stream their favorite shows seamlessly (it’s worth noting that an individual guest uses 2.9 devices, on average, when they travel). Or they can enjoy your in-room entertainment that uses WiFi, like watching a movie on your smart TV or ordering room service via your hotel app or in-room tablet. If your energy management system uses internet, then guests will be able to stay comfortable with dynamic heat or air conditioning settings.
Having reliable WiFi isn’t only advantageous for your guests, but also for your entire hospitality business. WiFi is crucial for efficient operations, especially when the internet powers nearly every facet of your hotel, like your cloud-based property management system, point-of-sale system, security cameras, time management system, smart locks, and more.
Which features should you look for in a hotel WiFi provider?
Shopping around for hospitality WiFi can be intimidating, but you can cut through the noise when you know what to look for. A good hospitality WiFi service should offer these features at a minimum:
Speed: It’s not enough to simply offer WiFi; you need to offer fast WiFi. Don’t settle for a speed of less than 20mbps, which allows you to stream videos and have video calls with at least 10 people. If your hotel attracts business travelers, you can provide a better WiFi experience with speeds around 100mbps, which allows for video streaming in 4K and heavy online gaming. The gold standard of internet connections is gigabit-speed internet, which is 1000mbps. With gigabit speeds, you won’t get any negative guest reviews about your WiFi!
Wired and wireless connections: Depending on what you’re using the internet for, a wired or wireless connection may make more sense, so you want to work with a provider that offers both. Your front desk computers, for example, can use a wired connection, since they are fixed in place and need the fastest, most reliable speeds. Guests, on the other hand, generally want a wireless connection so they can easily connect to WiFi via any device anywhere at the hotel.
Routers and access points: Routers bring internet service into your hotel and push the connection out to many access points, which are positioned throughout the building. Depending on the size and layout of your property, you might need one access point per guest or one access point per guestroom.
Separate guest and back-of-house networks: For security reasons, it’s good practice to have at least two networks at your hotel: one for guests to use, and one for staff. You can hide the back-of-house WiFi network so that guests don’t try to connect to it; employees can connect to their network by typing in the network name and password manually.
A guest login page: A login page serves many purposes, so it’s important to have one. This login page can ensure that only registered guests use your WiFi network, and you can leverage the login page as a marketing tool. You could ask guests to sign up for your marketing email list on this page, or you could display a special offer to encourage repeat bookings or ancillary spend in your outlets.
Scalability: As guest preferences change, you want to work with a WiFi vendor that can adapt to changing market dynamics - and to changes in your physical space. If you want to increase WiFi speeds or add WiFi to areas of your hotel where WiFi wasn’t available before, like your pool deck or parking garage, then you’ll want your vendor to be able to grow with you.
Support and maintenance: Who do you call if your WiFi goes down? Your vendor should offer 24/7 technical support for both hotel employees and guests. A support line for guests is crucial so that your front desk team isn’t tasked with troubleshooting a guest’s connectivity challenges. The vendor should also perform regular maintenance so that your system is always performing as well as possible.
Usage statistics: Do you know how much bandwidth your hotel uses on a given day, or how many users access your network in a month? Your internet vendor should provide a dashboard or reporting capabilities to let you track usage and downtime.
What pricing and commercial terms can you expect?
Each hotel is unique, and hospitality WiFi service is generally priced upon request to account for the nuances of each property. The size, age, condition, and location of your building will all impact the price of your WiFi service. In general, larger buildings will pay more, as will buildings that are older or that have very thick walls which could hinder connectivity. Unlike other commercial buildings, hotels are usually designed with thick walls to make the guestrooms soundproof, but unfortunately an unintended consequence is that thick walls block not only sound, but also WiFi signal, so your hotel may need to have more access points than an office building of the same size.
Like pricing, contacts are usually drawn up to reflect the specific needs of your property. Expect to commit to a contract term of at least one year. If you can commit to a longer term, you might be able to reduce your monthly cost.
How do you implement hospitality WiFi at your property?
Once you’ve done the hard part - selecting a WiFi vendor - then you can get ready for implementation. With a signed contract in hand, you can plan for the on-site installation. If you’re opening a new hotel or upgrading a very old internet setup, you’ll need to install routers and access points, which can require several days of work by a technician. In some cases, you might need assistance from an electrician, especially if your hotel is historic, if an outlet needs to be moved or wiring needs to be adjusted. If your hotel already has WiFi and you’re simply changing providers, you may be able to use your existing routers and access points.
After the technician has installed the hardware, you can test the system together. Make sure to verify that every access point is functional and that you can connect to WiFi in every guestroom. You definitely don’t want a guest to be the one to tell you about a broken access point! When you’re confident that the hardware is fully functional, then you can roll out the new WiFi service to your staff and back-of-house systems, then, after working out all the kinks, to guests. You’ll want to make your WiFi network name and password (if applicable) easily accessible to everyone who might be connecting. For instance, it can be helpful to post the connection instructions somewhere in your guestrooms and public areas. If your hotel hosts meetings or events, make sure the WiFi info is part of your standard collateral and signage.