Extended stay guests live and breathe Wi-Fi

John Wagner Jim Stewart Uploaded

Wi-Fi and HSIA are now seen as a critical component of any hospitality offering. This is particularly true and, more so than ever before, for extended stay guests who, today, frequently use laptops, tablets and mobiles at the same time and often in conjunction with each other.

Around 90 per cent of people move between devices to accomplish a goal and it is this device proliferation combined with increased network activity that hoteliers with outdated networks need to be concerned about.

Today's extended-stay guest expects to be able to get online quickly, easily and reliably. So the challenge is how to support this explosion in demand for fast connectivity and offset the costs through new revenue generating opportunities.

Serviced apartments are having to come to terms with the fact that, if they want to offer a home away from home experience, they are going to have to up their game in terms of Wi-Fi technology provision.

Guests now expect an outstanding performance from the Wi-Fi technology. The moment a guest checks in to their apartment they expect to be logged in and working in the fastest time possible - just as they would at home or in their office and extended stay guests require internet access for work and play, day and night.

'Great staff. Clean room. Incredibly slow Wi-Fi...'
The seasoned business traveler is increasingly likely to ask about the quality of internet connectivity before they book a hotel room with complaints about internet connectivity at the very top of the list of issues now raised by guests. Statistics prove that 80 per cent of guests feel that providing the most up-to-date HSIA is absolutely vital.

So how can you safeguard your property from network problems before your TripAdvisor rating starts to suffer? One of the first (and easiest) questions you can ask yourself or your IT manager is "How long it has been since your system was last upgraded?" The chances are that if you've not looked at your Wi-Fi provision for much more than three years, your system will be creaking and your guests experience will be suffering.

Just like the mobile phone market, new technology and services are constantly being brought onto the market. Another key question is are you using the correct one and more to the point, one that's fit for purpose? Was it installed by genuine specialist or was it done on a limited budget using non enterprise specification technology?

If you haven't reviewed your level of internet service provision over the last three years you are in potential danger of losing guest loyalty through bad IT experiences. Even more crucially you are most certainly losing the chance to exploit the new significant revenue opportunities that can come from selling enhanced Wi-Fi services to guests.

A survey of your property by a qualified system integrator/network provider will give you a good indication of how your current system is (or probably isn't working) for you and your guests. For example if your restaurant or bar is getting busier in the evenings how does this affect other areas of the hotel? How fluid is internet access throughout your property? Do you have enough access points?

Have a look at how user friendly it is to log on? Are guests taken through endless pages before signing up? Or can they seamlessly get online with the use of one username and one password? Updating your GUI (guest user interface) and taking away the frustration of having to enter lines and lines of information just to get online will all create a more positive guest experience and overall satisfaction in your internet provision.

Companies such as Acentic understand intimately the issues faced by hoteliers; whether it's any or all of the above; poor coverage or speed, regular system drop out or difficult access, and they have all the knowhow to ease the pain that all this brings.

How can you maximise revenue from Wi-Fi?
Another challenge faced by hoteliers is one of maximising revenue from Wi-Fi now that it is often taken for granted that it will be free.

The answer is to develop a selection of packages to offer the guest. Depending on length of stay and what type of access guests require you can, for example, package data usage tiered for faster internet access (low level, medium level and high level) perhaps delivering the lower level for free but offering upgraded and premium services on a chargeable basis.

Offering private networks can also work well as add-ons. These create a single secure wireless network alongside the usual open guest network and provides guests with the ability to form small, completely private networks for them and their colleagues or family while continuing to ensure that unrelated devices are unable to gain access.

This private network provision can generate additional revenue for hoteliers. It also gives guests the added benefit of a secure way to connect multiple devices and they can remain connected to their room network throughout a property.

Serviced apartments have changed the way that both business and leisure travelers plan their stays away from home. The in-room technology challenge is here for life and serviced apartment operators need to embrace the new revenue opportunities with relish.



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