Written by Bill Roberts, President, Network Services, Datatrend Technologies, Inc.
Business travelers need connectivity 24/7 to check email and connect to online conference calls. Leisure travelers need to connect with friends and family, enjoy movies and music, and figure out what sightseeing adventure they will be going on next.
For today’s increasingly mobile world, guests’ needs center around High Speed Internet Access (HSIA). Over 90% of business travelers are bringing a laptop and a growing number of non-business travelers look to access social media and other sites via personal laptops and tablets. According to Fox News, “86% of guests expect free WiFi, so paying steep WiFi charges at checkout could put a damper on a guest’s entire hotel experience.”
It is not enough to just offer free internet access; guests expect their hotel room to provide comparable levels of speed, dependability, and security as they experience on their office or home networks.
The number one concern of guests is the speed of the Internet service. Guests not only use their internet connections for light email and browsing. They are also using streaming video services such as Netflix to unwind after a long day of travel or to chat with their family and friends via Skype. If your login page lists speeds at 256 kb/s, but it still feels like dial up, you are in trouble. Negative Wi-Fi reviews from guests can lead future guests down the block to competing hotels.
After speed, the dependability of a WiFi connection is also a major concern to guests. While light Internet use (email, web browsing) is possible on an intermittent connection, video and music streaming services require a strong, consistent connection. Business travelers depend on cloud software (Salesforce, Quickbase etc) and VPNs (Go-to-Meeting, join.me) that require a dependable always-on connection; intermittent connections can make business travel disastrous.
Hotel legacy wireless networks frequently lack sufficient quantities of wireless access points and/or are positioned inefficiently, failing to provide strong coverage over the entire property. Another common issue is that during times of high occupancy (conferences, fund-raising events) high Internet use can crush performance levels.
A complete RF (Radio Frequency) survey that produces a heat map will determine the strength of your WiFi connection on different floors and sides of the property. If your wireless Internet signal is not powerful enough to reach all areas of your property, you may need to invest in additional equipment and cabling infrastructure to expand its range and improve its speed.
With public awareness of identity theft, guests are questioning security and privacy concerns more frequently. If the WiFi network is insecure, their financial information could be compromised while making online purchases.
Ensure that your Internet connection is protected with WPA2 encryption. This is built into almost all Internet routers. Ensure that your password isn’t publicly displayed in your hotel. And, preferably, provide each guest with an individual password and username.
Hotels need to support the bandwidth requirements of multiple devices per occupied room, and HSIA delivers more bandwidth than other methods. The ability to deliver consistent, bandwidth-rich HSIA ensures guest satisfaction and repeat visits are achieved, and is predicated on building a solid structured cabling infrastructure.
A solid network cabling infrastructure allows a property to deliver quality HSIA to guests by:
- Supporting technologies such as Voice over IP (VoIP) telephony, wireless internet access (WiFi), and IPTV (Television over IP networks).
- Providing the scalability to increase bandwidth with rising demand
- Ensuring guests are always connected to Internet services. Typically, hotels and resorts will implement a mix of wireless and wired connections to ensure that guests have 100% connectivity at all times.
Quality HSIA built on a robust network cabling infrastructure enhances the customer experience and eliminates potential issues like:
- General dissatisfaction and poor customer reviews
- Losing repeat business
- Room switches
Beyond the guest experience, hotels have security systems, environmental controls, and non-guest services such as cloud based Property Management Systems (PMS) and Point of Sale (POS) systems. These often rely on WiFi networks or robust wired networks where HSIA, built on rock-solid network infrastructure, is a must.
All of these issues have the potential to affect a property’s bottom line. Implementing a structured cabling solution that is optimized for HSIA avoids the damage that negative guest experiences or subpar operations have on a property’s revenue. As technology continues to evolve, a sound network infrastructure allows property networks the flexibility to support the integration of new technologies and increasing demands.
The thought of implementing a network cabling infrastructure can be overwhelming to hospitality property owners. However, that hesitation diminishes quickly when dissatisfied guests provide negative feedback and make other accommodations for their next visit. Providing robust HSIA service built on well-designed and tested network infrastructure is necessary for hospitality properties to provide the world class services guests demand in an increasingly technology-centric world.
For more information on HSIA network infrastructure assessments and installations from Datatrend, click here or contact Bill Roberts at email@example.com. You can also consult with a Datatrend representative by calling 800-367-7472.