Wi-Fi is a business driver that enables a comprehensive guest experience. Soon, hotels will leverage the power of Wi-Fi to expand on loyalty programs, integrate with the in-room TV, and take part in other customer-engagement strategies such as location-based promotions and time-based offers.
Yaroslav Goncharov, CEO of Hotel Wi-Fi Test, has had a front row seat to the rise of Wi-Fi in the hotel industry. â€œItâ€™s become a key amenity,â€ he says. â€œSome studies even claim it is second only to a comfortable bed.â€ At a time when basically every handheld device features Internet connectivity, guests place immense value on reliable wireless networks. This means that top-notch Wi-Fi services have changed from a nicety to a necessity.
When it comes to best practices, nothing trumps capacity. â€œWhile bandwidth growth has always been an issue for hospitality IT departments, the additional demands of Wi-Fi have accelerated the urgency,â€ says Alexandra Sewell, executive director, emerging markets, Comcast Business. She notes that many hotel guests carry two or three mobile devices, and they expect to be constantly connected when they travel. â€œAnd without the proper network capacity, Wi-Fi will be slow and frustrating,â€ she says. Kirk Hylan, owner of INsite Networks, a San Francisco IT company, says thereâ€™s no rule of thumb when it comes to determining how much bandwidth a hotel property needs. â€œWith bandwidth, itâ€™s really a matter of how much your pocket can afford because guests will use it all.â€
â€œTechnology is evolving faster than most of us ever imagined,â€ says Doug Gehret, general manager at Hilton Orlando. â€œWe must be proactive to remain relevant.â€Â Gehretâ€™s hotel recently upgraded to the latest 802.11ac Wi-Fi standard and now touts its high-speed data rates (up to 10 times standard Wi-Fi) as a key selling point in promotion material. With the AC Wi-Fi standard now over a year old, hotels that havenâ€™t upgraded may find themselves falling behind the competition. And a propertyâ€™s Wi-Fi speed isnâ€™t a secret anymore, as third-party reviewers like Hotel Wi-Fi Test provide free, easily accessible ratings of wireless services that potential guests may use when choosing hotels for their next stay or event.
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