Amenity or Annoyance: How Does Your Hotel Wi-Fi Measure up?

Hotel WiFi

Imagine you are away from work on a business trip. From your hotel room’s work desk, you set up your laptop and log into Skype in order to attend an important conference call. Half-way through the meeting there are delays and eventually your call is dropped – the result of a bad Internet connection. Has this experience happened to you? Your guests?

We recently blogged about the rising expectations of hotel guests, especially Generation Y, a generation increasingly reliant on wireless networks to operate one, two…even five devices that require Internet connections. Guests these days expect hotels and other accommodations to provide reliable wireless, high-speed Internet. How do you measure up?

Why provide Wi-Fi?

Internet access is now a standard amenity guests expect, along with air conditioning and tiny bars of soap. According to this article on lodgingmagazine.com, 34 percent of business travelers will not stay at a hotel without Internet access. And in a survey about guest satisfaction, inefficient Wi-Fi access was the top complaint. Gone are the days of screeching telephone modems; if you are going to offer Internet access, it has to be good and preferably great. Otherwise, it becomes a guest annoyance and not a feature at all.

What kind of Wi-Fi experience are you offering?

When guests choose to stay at a property with Internet access, they assume it is high-speed, wireless and reliable. Do you know how you measure up? If you don’t, chances are hotelwifitest.com does. This website displays the expected speed, maximum speed (bandwidth potential) and confidence (how thoroughly the connection has been tested) of various hotels around the world – as tested by hotel guests through the website. This information is then tweeted to the twittersphere and recorded on the website for visitors who wish to make their accommodation choice based on Internet speed.

Seems far-fetched? Let’s go back to the scenario this blog post started with. If a business traveller can’t conduct business from your property, that’s grounds for moving to another hotel. And if you are losing customers due to poor bandwidth, that’s not a complaint, that’s a revenue loss.

You don’t need to be a major player in order to provide an excellent Wi-Fi experience. In fact, smaller properties have an advantage when it comes to offering reliable high-speed Internet access. According to this article on Skift.com, smaller hotels generally receive higher ratings than larger and fancier hotels who have a bigger area to cover and more users to bog down networks. Whether you are a small or large property, there is always room for improvement, especially with an imminent bandwidth boom just around the corner as more people acquire more devices.

What can you do to improve WiFi performance?

Providing reliable Internet access is no longer a luxury service or a basic service, but an essential service properties must offer their guests. If your property offers the Internet but hasn’t upgraded in the last five years, it’s time. Just think, the iPad didn’t even exist five years ago! In addition to guest device use you may also need to consider in-room entertainment features, such as smart TVs and other advanced entertainment systems.

According to Lodging Magazine’s article on Boosting Hotel Bandwidth, hotels require four times more bandwidth than they did five years ago. Properties should upgrade when they start to reach 80 percent capacity.

So, how do you meet supply and demand? As this technical article on Navigating the Bandwidth Boom notes, it’s not so easy but you don’t have to figure it out alone. They recommend that you partner with a provider that can offer proactive maintenance (software and firmware upgrades) in addition to constant network monitoring.

There are many guest internet providers that cater specifically to hotels and accommodations, offering ongoing technical support and site visits. Do your research to make sure you choose one that meets your property’s specific requirements.

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