Can hotels risk losing two thirds of their business?

Craig Davies, Head of IT Services Sales, Green Duck

A third of leisure travellers say they would not return to a hotel that offered inadequate wireless access, and this number rises to two-thirds of business guests.” – Hotel Industry Magazine

These are pretty scary numbers for hotel owners. In other words, you can provide great food, a shower that wakes you up in the morning, crisp white bed linen, but if the average business traveller can’t get their emails, then they simply won’t return. There’s an image that often floats around on LinkedIn which uses Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs to identify the importance of good Wi-Fi in our lives – it jokingly shows Wi-Fi as more important than food, warmth and a roof over our heads. I’ve been on holiday with two tweenagers and the first thing they ask for when we hit our accommodation is “what’s the Wi-Fi code?”. The desire for us to be in constant communication is driving an insatiable appetite for a good quality network connection.

So, why are certain hotel owners, public venues, coffee shops still getting it so wrong in Norfolk? Here are my top three theories :

Venues don’t use the bandwidth they have to ensure each visitor has a consistent experience. Here in Norfolk, we all know about limitations on broadband and general connectivity, but you have to work with what you have. For instance, if a hotel only has a 10Mb/s broadband line coming in, why allow one guest on a Breaking Bad Netflix all-nighter take up the whole lot? If you had visibility of your Wi-Fi network, then you’ll have the ability to provide users with individual bandwidth limits or restrict things like Netflix altogether. That way, everyone can get their emails, login to Facebook, keep up to date on WhatsApp and Instagram – all minimal bandwidth stuff to maintain happy visitors.

Getting logged in is really tiresome. I’ve given up even trying to log into certain Wi-Fi locations simply due to a dreadful login process. Why would the provider want to collect all sorts of information? We’re happy to give up our email address so that you can let us know about great offers, but home address and mobile numbers are just a step too far in return for a bit of bandwidth. Make it as simple as you can for your guests and they’ll return for more. Providing a simple splash page welcoming your guest or even telling them about your special offers on dinner for the evening would provide a pleasant experience. Even better, might be to use social media logins, such as Facebook. That way, your guest will be telling everyone that they’re enjoying coffee or staying at your venue.

Weak Wi-Fi signal. A lot of venues and hotels jumped on the Wi-Fi bandwagon 10 years ago and invested heavily in “future tech”. The problem is, the IT world has seen enormous change in that period. I typically carry three devices around with me, each with a different purpose, but all with the capability to connect. We also have a massive array of devices with huge amounts of power and intelligence that are now incompatible with older Wi-Fi platforms. To add to the complexity, 10 users with 3 devices each means 30 connections and older access points just can’t cope with the density.

The good news is that Wi-Fi technology has come a long way to cope with this changing connected world. There are multiple vendors out there offering technologies that can solve the issues mentioned above and provide you with valuable data analytics to grow your business. For hotel owners, it sounds as though it’s as important as getting the dinner menu right, providing a clean bathroom or ensuring you have the right staff to say hello in reception.

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