Hotel Hotel Wi-Fi Software Articles
Needless to say, the hospitality sector keeps getting more and more competitive these days. On booking.com, for instance, 1,172,086 hotels worldwide are listed. Airbnb registered around 500,000 stays per night back in 2015, so probably a lot more at this moment.Clearly, in order to survive and thrive on such a constantly growing market, one must stand out. But how do we achieve that? By constantly and costly investing in innovative equipment, trendy design updates and expensive promotional services?Not necessarily. In hospitality, probably more than in other field, "little details make a big difference". Why, you ask?It's easy.Happy customers will spread the word about your business. They will recommend your location to their friends when they are looking for a going-out/housing idea and will even become your volunteer social media marketers by posting perfectly chosen pictures on their social profiles. Since hashtags are trendy, they will also use them, allowing the free advertising they just created for you to become visible to those outside their friend list.Hey, if you're lucky, that post could even become viral and you could get the type of promotion and ad agency would ask thousands of dollars for!So, what are the details that could make a difference? Guessing what customers want or need may seem like the most difficult task in the universe if we think about it that way.At the end of the day, however, our customers are people just like us and should in no way be regarded any differently.The best way to understand patrons and "guess" their needs is by having a look at what's trending at the moment and, why not, what we would like in their place. At the end of the day, we're all customers. If we are bothered by a restaurant's decision to charge for napkins, for sure there will be people that will also not be pleased with this apparently "minor" detail.I always, for instance, appreciate things that are on the house when going out. It shows me that the location wants to make customers feel extra welcome. Such things do not need to cost a fortune and take your business to sure bankruptcy¦ they are small efforts that show you care.When I visited Greece, for example, a small family-owned tavern served each guest a bowl of locally grown and prepared olives, together with home-made toast and butter. After a whole day of sunbathing and strolling around, I can't tell you how good it felt to receive such a treatment, especially since there was some waiting time involved for the food order.When I went to Barcelona, someone had left tourist maps on the bed, with a small list of must-see landmark recommendations. The map had a message attached to it “ "use me as you please and then take me home as a souvenir".In Vienna, the small boutique hotel where I stayed, prepared a probably very affordable goodie bag for customers containing 5 refrigerator magnets with some lovely old Austrian buildings, among which, surprise, was also the hotel. The name of the hotel was featured on the magnet and its web address was mentioned discreetly on the back. The message on the goodie bag: "we took care of the souvenirs, enjoy your vacation!" Such a great way to advertise your business!In Istanbul, I will never forget about the free dessert I got at a place I just happened to walk into. I returned to that restaurant 2 more times and recommended it to my friends as well.In Lisbon, at an otherwise plainly looking small restaurant, the owner entertained guests with jokes. That is why his small diner became quite well known and recommended online, everyone loved the guy and the atmosphere he created.What detail could turn your business into the talk of the town?If you want to become famous online and get the buzz going about your business, give your customers what they couldn't live without.So what could that be? Free food, free sweets, a free night at your hotel?You'd be surprised but free WiFi is probably as important as food when traveling abroad. Even Maslow's hierarchy of basic needs has been updated to include WiFi as an everyday necessity. I know that you probably already are offering this free service to your customers, so how could you possibly stand out?The answer is simple.In the Trump and Snooper's Charter era, more and more people are worried about their Internet privacy.But what if you were offering online privacy with something extra? The Safe WiFi project enables brick-and-mortar business owners to make money, while protecting customers online.As a business owner, all you need to do is set up an ad on your free WiFi landing page, advising visitors to protect themselves online with VPN. Furthermore, you can place printed materials inside your location to promote this online privacy protection app, since you will earn up to EUR 1 for each VPN download and up to EUR 50 for each purchase of Premium subscriptions.What is a VPN and how does it ensure Internet privacy? Simply. It replaces a person's IP (aka their online identity) with a different one, generated by the company's servers. This new address will be shared with other people, making it impossible for others to spy or hack the personal data we use online (such as credit card credentials or Internet history).It's time to show your customers that you care. They will feel welcome in your location and will recommend it to others as well. By joining the Safe WiFi affiliate program, you will profit in more than one way.
One of the rapidly emerging business trends at the moment is what is known as Big Data. Wikipedia defines Big Data as "an all-encompassing term for any collection of data sets so large and complex that it becomes difficult to process using traditional data processing applications".There are many aspects of yield management where Big Data can be and is being used to benefit hoteliers. Indeed both IHG and Marriott have been quoted as having used Big Data to improve the guest's experience. However, there are also significant benefits to much simpler data analytics. I want to examine some of these benefits with respect to WiFi with a hospitality environment.As an example I will consider two different types of data sets with which I have worked and some of the inferences that can be drawn from them: gateway based data (where the data is obtained from the gateway used to connect the guest to the internet) and client based data (where the data is obtained from a connection client that the guest uses).Gateway dataGateway data should be readily available from all HSIA providers and may also be obtained from wireless controllers / routers in certain situations. It includes the following types of information:Number of sessions Time session started Length of session Data transferred (both upload and download) Device manufacturer and type Price of purchase In May, Swisscom Hospitality used data such as this to develop the following press release http://www.swisscom.ch/en/business/hospitality/news/guest-data-triples-in-a-year.html which communicated the significant growth in both number of devices and traffic per device connecting to their gateways. Additionally, at HITEC, Eleven Wireless presented such data to a packed and fascinated audience and have since hosted several webinars on the topic of "Optimise and monetise your guest internet"Hoteliers can use data like this to understand more about their guests and develop appropriate policies as outline in the table below:Cleary just using the above information it is possible to significantly enhance both the guest experience and the benefit to the hotel simply with some thought around this basic gateway data.Client dataHowever, if we look at client data analytics, even more data and hence more information is available. In this case I am using client as a generic description for software that is utilised as part of your standard connection. Within the hospitality environment, this would include, among others, an iPass client.The client device might record significant additional data such as:Signal strength of the access point to which you are attempting to connect MAC address of the access point to which you are attempting to connect Whether the connection attempt was successful or not Service Set Identifier (SSID) to which you are attempting to connect Wavelength of connection (i.e. 2.4 GHz or 5 GHz) Location This now gives you the ability to obtain even more useful information such as average signal strength for a particular brand, hotel or even access point (AP). It also gives you the opportunity to compare providers or access point manufacturers.Now our table of possible information has expanded to cover the following:A pictoral comparison of average signal strength and variability of that signal strength across a group of hotels could result in a scatter plot such as this (I have added the implications).An owner of a number of different hotels could use information like this, together with usage information to ensure that expenditure is allocated in as cost-effective a manner as possible.The same sort of analysis and focus could be applied to APs within a hotel (although a longer sample period might be needed) and the information on signal strength and variability used to identify "coverage blackspots" and resolve them quickly rather than try and deal with the rather more troublesome "WiFi coverage was poor" comment on Trip Advisor.So we can see that with relatively simple data analytics it is possible to:Set appropriate tiered bandwidth limits for guests Identify hotels in need of WiFi upgrades and prioritise expenditure accordingly Rapidly identify areas of poor coverage within a hotel and address the problem Examine trends in 5 GHz device connection and determine the appropriate time to upgrade to 802.11ac If this is the result of basic data analytics, what might be possible when hotels apply Big Data analysis techniques to their WiFi networks?
For most restaurants, coffee shops, and hotels, providing free guest Wi-Fi is now the norm, but few hospitality operators have recognized the benefits that can be reaped by leveraging the Wi-Fi they've already put into place as a customer engagement tool.This means moving from standard Wi-Fi to advanced guest Wi-Fi. What is that? Advanced guest Wi-Fi is differentiated from the standard Wi-Fi offered at your local coffee shop by a host of branded features and services, often leveraging location-based technologies, in order to benefit both the guest and the hospitality operator providing the service. Unlike free Wi-Fi offered as a convenience, hospitality operators are actively incentivizing their guests to use advanced guest Wi-Fi services.Why? Because advanced guest Wi-Fi allows these organizations to understand and engage customers in ways never before possible. Advanced guest Wi-Fi provides real-time information about customers who are on-site and gives operators tools to communicate personalized offers based on immediate and past visitation and purchase histories. It also offers actionable insights that enable operators to make business decisions that will accelerate growth and drive new revenues, while simultaneously creating stronger bonds between guests and their brand.What is advanced guest Wi-Fi? Advanced guest Wi-Fi is generally a software-based solution, often delivered via the cloud, that makes all this possible via three groups of features: Welcome Services, Analytics Services, and Marketing Services.Welcome Servicesdrives all the other features of advanced guest Wi-Fi. It provides a branded welcome page that easily facilitates the customer joining the Wi-Fi network and accessing the Internet. They include flexible login, which let operators gather opt-in email and social media information for marketing lists. The advanced guest Wi-Fi platform also gathers email addresses, social media data, and, most importantly, permission to use the information for personalized promotions. Finally, Internet plans are established and enforced, allowing the merchant to control how long a guest uses the network. Analytics Services connects operators to the data gathered about their customers. After a guest joins the retailer's Wi-Fi network, the advanced guest Wi-Fi platform records when, where, and how long the guest is logged in. Over time, this creates a user profile of purchasing habits and, in aggregate, a profile of all customer behaviors. Analyzing guests' digital footprints can tell operators about buying trends, the success/failure of promotions, and how to optimize store hours, layout and operations. By combining this information with customer-specific sales data, operators gain a 360-degree view of how guests' behavior leads to sales and over what period of time. By noticing what customers appear to be interested in, operators can precisely target the right customer with the right promotion at the moment they are considering a purchase.Marketing Services lets operators bring information and analysis together to develop personalized promotions for individual customers and larger promotions aimed at all guests, based on their aggregate shopping information. This information, difficult to gather any other way, engages customers and helps build an ongoing valuable relationship with operators. Provided you have a system that incorporates these three key functions, you have the ability to transform your existing Wi-Fi into a powerful marketing tool that will give you an advantage over the competition. Here are five steps for hospitality operators to implement such a system leveraging advanced guest Wi-FiEncourage your customers to use the Wi-Fi connection - while most customers today expect Wi-Fi, they also expect to have to ask for a password or go through some other kind of validation process. Make sure your staff is trained to take those Wi-Fi questions "off the table" by encouraging guests to connect. You can also advertise it within the venue and make the network ID readily known. Of course, you also need to make sure these guests see a welcoming gust portal that provides easy navigation and information about loyalty programs. Give guests multiple log-in options “ By enabling customers to use multiple login options “ such as username/password, email, social media, click through and others, you're able to ID how regularly your customers return or whether they use an of your other sites. The customer also can use these multiple login options to determine how much personal data they wish to share. Leverage the data to optimize your business “ Once you've managed to gather a significant amount of data from your guests, make sure you leverage it in order to understand movement, browsing habits, and other detail that can give you the insights you need to improve your business. Maybe it's moving a few tables around, maybe it's changing your store hours or maybe it's eliminating a dish, but you won't know until you leverage that data. This usually requires some kind of analytics functionality, so make sure your guest Wi-Fi platform has the flexibility to integrate with that software. Put Wi-Fi data to work in marketing “ Once you know who your Wi-Fi guest are, you can create triggered campaign through a range of channels, so that different customer receive relevant, personalize content via SMS, email, push notifications, etc. You can use your portal to promote your social media pages so that, for example, these customers quickly like your Facebook page. And you can also integrate guest Wi-Fi with your email database “ feeding all new users logging into Wi-Fi into your existing email lists before segmenting them by demographic data in order to send the most relevant email updates to the most relevant audiences.Rinse and repeat - Once you've put all of these systems into play, measuring their effectiveness becomes critical. Make you don't become complacent and work to maximize your efforts using advanced guest Wi-Fi. Experiment with new ideas every month, since you never know when one tool becomes old and expendable while another better way is waiting in the wings.
The Internet of Things, room automation, artificial intelligence and virtual assistants such as Amazon's Alexa are making headway in the hotels and hospitality sector, but none of this is possible without the right foundation of secure connectivity. No matter how luxurious your hotel, how sumptuous the food or how relaxing the spa, if you don't offer secure connectivity and mobile guest services, you are unlikely to fill your rooms. Christophe Ameline, Head of Vertical Markets Strategy & Offer at ALE, looks at the issues and the technologies that are now available to enable hoteliers to provide the services that guests expect.Hospitality is a connected industry. Even back in 2014, 40% of people traveling on business had three or more connected devices, because smart and wearable tech offer far greater functionality to people on the move. Inside the hotel, guests are turning to their own tech for information and entertainment rather than traditional hotel services.It's secure access first “ and lastHoteliers realize that to grow their business they need to invest in technology. According to the 2017 Lodging Technology Study, 57% of hotels are planning to increase investment with 42% intending to maintain their technology spend. The top priority is to increase digital customer engagement in a secure environment, and for this, mobility and connectivity need to be at the center of their digital transformation strategy.Wireless connectivity is now an essential amenity. Guests experience it at home, at work and increasingly on the move “ so they have high expectations. In fact, Wi-Fi is so central to the guest experience that only room cost ranks higher in importance to guests. But providing Wi-Fi is more than just providing connectivity bars on a device - balancing easy access with security is key.Challenge 1: From the lobby to the lounger “ pervasive and high-quality Wi-FiProviding consistent Wi-Fi access can present a major headache in hospitality environments. Not just because of the number of users, devices and amount of data on the network, but because often the buildings were not designed with networks in mind!Managing the network infrastructure footprint, particularly in historic hotels, is one of the first considerations. Old buildings with thick walls or metal structures mean that it is just not possible to run all the cables you need to support room technology. The 140-year-old Waldhaus Flims Alpine Grand Hotel & Spa recognized this problem, but through the use of hospitality access points (AP), the hotel rooms could each be connected via a single LAN cable. These specialized access points act as 'mini-switches' which ensure access to internet, telephony and video entertainment, only with a much smaller footprint. Where it is impossible to bring Ethernet to some areas of hotels, Wi-Fi meshing can provide the solution.With IoT becoming the norm “ room automation, IP security cameras, point of sale systems and virtual assistance devices “ the growing pressure on networks to deliver uninterrupted quality of service to guests starts to become an issue.Your Wi-Fi should follow that guest!It is not simply a case of adding a few more access points around the hotel “ you need a solution in place to ensure simple and secure guest access and authentication. This simplified connectivity needs to 'follow' the guest around the premises, providing access to services where and when they need them. For instance, APs that can continuously monitor connection metrics from mobile devices can use this data to steer device connection to most appropriate AP, which prevents the Wi-Fi network from slowing down as people move throughout the hotel grounds.Challenge 2: Follow that device “ mobile guest services from digital reception to check-outA guest that uses the spa, the restaurant and the gym leads to a better bottom line. The key to unlocking this is the guest's personal device “ from providing direct bookings and services before guests arrive, to saving time by checking-out straight from their smartphone. This type of personalized experience ultimately means better guest engagement.This requires frictionless digital interaction between guest and hotel departments - be that the front desk, restaurant or other facilities. With today's open APIs (application programming interface), it is becoming easier than ever to integrate voice and message capabilities directly into guest loyalty or eConcierge apps. There are some great examples of this already happening. In Sweden for example, The Winery Hotel wanted a fully mobile approach to guest communications and completely rejected the idea of in-room telephones. It implemented a mobile eConcierge app to provide guest access to hotel services and enterprise-grade telephony from their own smart devices. This enables the hotel to be at their service 24/7 “ wherever they are on the premises “ and communicate offers and notifications straight to its guests' smartphones.Beyond this, location-based services are quickly establishing themselves as a way to offer guests services “ offering directions to one of the resort's featured restaurants or letting guests know what offers are available when they are walking past the spa are just a couple of examples. Successful digital engagement in the future will be personalized in these ways, and the data gained from mobile engagement will be invaluable to hoteliers in offering personalized services and push notifications based on individual preferences.And mobility is not just for guests.Behind the scenes in hotels such as The Buddha Bar Hotel in Paris, enhanced mobility services are enabling staff to be contactable anywhere on-site, resulting in staff being more attentive to guests' demands. Add to this apps which enable employees to instantly report room availability via a code on their mobile device, or log and respond to maintenance issues on the move, and you can start to see how these capabilities can all add up to get guests checked in faster and keep them happy during their stay.Challenge 3: Securing networks and containing threatsHotels are a growing target for hackers and data thieves. The open, guest-facing nature of the hospitality industry means that hotels and venues need to be welcoming to guests and their devices. But with so many mobile, wearable and IoT devices entering the hotel space, balancing guest access while keeping data, hotel functions and back-end services secure is vital.Containers and PANs provide the solution One of the core principles behind building a secure network for hotels is containerization technology. This is a method of creating virtual isolated environments on a single converged network. The idea is to group connected devices with a common function and the respective authorized users into a unique, virtual IoT 'container'. For example, the 'guest access container' acts as its own network where guest users cannot see or interact with devices within the finance department's container, or the IP cameras and alarm systems operated by the security team. Within each container, quality of service and security rules can be enforced and it is possible to reserve or limit bandwidth, prioritize traffic and block undesired applications.As connectivity grows and with so many devices in guest rooms, you also need to consider what each guest can interact with - smart TVs, intelligent room assistants or climate control. With guests able to connect and mirror movies to the IPTV, how do you stop them connecting and streaming to the TV next door? The answer is the Personal Area Network (PAN). A PAN is almost like having a dedicated Wi-Fi network for every room, where guests can interact with room technology as they'd expect at home “ but crucially only in their room. Yes, hotels need to get connected, but they need to be smart about network security and the technology is now available to enable them to do just this.Stay another dayTo drive these benefits to their bottom line, hotels don't just need to offer better mobility, they need to offer smarter mobility. The integration of a guest's device through bespoke applications and services is only the beginning of the process - hoteliers need to add a personal touch to their technology offerings. That means enhancing guest experience with services that transform the Internet of Things into the Hospitality of Things and mobile engagement that offers timely and appropriate services to guests. But with digital criminals on the prowl and tech savvy guests highly aware of digital risks, securing hotel networks can no longer be an afterthought “ secure connectivity needs to be at the center of design.