Putting Wi-Fi to Work for You

By Elena Briola

Last updated January 05, 2018

3 min read

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 Services

drives 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-Fi

Encourage 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.