A few months ago, I attended a destination wedding at a resort—it was beautiful. However, there was one glaring issue that everyone at the wedding and myself couldn’t ignore, the resort’s Wi-Fi was unreliable and well—awful.
I know what you’re thinking, “you’re at a resort who cares about Wi-Fi” and while there is some truth to that statement, the reality is, having access to reliable Wi-Fi plays a huge role in our lives today, especially while on vacation.
Hotels and resorts today need to provide what their guests need and what their guests want. Whether you’re traveling for work or like me, enjoying a destination wedding at a resort, there are basic requirements that the hospitality industry can’t ignore or skimp on.
Fortunately, I happen to work for a wireless service provider, so while my resort experience wasn’t quite what I thought it would be, I was able to bring back some valuable insights into how other hotels and resorts can avoid making the same mistakes.
Here are four guidelines every hotel and resort must follow to deliver better Wi-Fi performance and support happier guests.
Understanding Your Customers Needs and Designing Your WLAN for Them
There are many different variables that can impact your hotel’s or resort’s wifi performance, and they can be broken down into four categories:
- The physical environment
Each category must be properly addressed when designing your wireless network to achieve optimal performance and reliability.
Let’s look at an example for each category as it applies to hospitality.
The physical environment – Everything from building materials, layout and the materials of the items inside your hotel or resort can impact the quality of the Wi-Fi.
Where are your end-users trying to access the Wi-Fi from? The pool? The lobby? Their rooms? So why do you have your access points in the hallways if your guests are in their rooms?
Finding access points running down a hallway is a common mistake, and besides creating a poor wireless experience for your guests it also says two other things:
- First, you don’t completely understand your customer’s wireless needs
- Two, you chose the wrong wireless service provider to work with (more on that later).
Devices – The different types of devices as well as the numbers of devices trying to access your network are key components when delivering a reliable Wi-Fi experience. We call this designing for capacity. Yes, it’s important to understand how many guests you have, but it’s also critical that you have more context than just a head count.
For example, are your guests using smartphones? Do they all have iPhones or are some of them using Androids? Do they have laptops? Wearables like Fitbits and smart watches? How many devices does each guest typically have with them while traveling? You get the point.
Context is vital to providing everyone and every device with the performance they require.
Watch the video below to learn more about the importance of capacity
Back to the wedding. I primarily had my iPhone with me, and unfortunately I was unable to use it by the outdoor pools because the resort wasn’t equipped with any outdoor infrastructure to service guests in that location.
I’m not saying that’s a requirement but it should have been a serious consideration seeing that the pool areas were a major attraction for a majority of the guests. Again, this is where understanding your guests would help you to design a wireless experience that aligned with those needs.
Applications – Like your devices, there are many different types of applications that need to be taken into consideration as well.
Your hotel and resort must support both mission-critical applications such as security cameras, door locks, HVAC, administrative applications and systems as well as recreational applications like social media apps, streaming video (YouTube), streaming music (Spotify), and your guest’s business applications (email, cloud-based apps).
Each application requires resources from the network to properly function just like the devices they’re running on, and it’s critical you plan ahead of time to support the applications you know will be running on your network.
Again, back to the wedding example. Most of the guests at the wedding wanted to use Snapchat and Instagram while at the wedding, which just happened to be located by the pools.
This resort, while offering a gorgeous setting for a wedding, didn’t account for how their guests would be using the space from a wireless standpoint.
Had maybe one person with one phone been trying to access Instagram to upload a picture of the event, maybe that would have worked. However, try and have 75-100 devices at the same time and, you guessed it, not happening.
End-Users – Your hotel/resort will support a variety of different end-users, be it guests, staff or vendors, and they all will use the wireless in different ways to accomplish different tasks. This will again, impact your wireless performance in terms of how you design your network to support those different roles.
This could be a few things, including:
- Where they will need to access the wireless from
- When they need access
- What they will need to access once on the network.
At the wedding, it was clear that our type of role or this type of event was not considered when designing the resort’s wireless network.
They failed to plan for how modern-day wedding guests use wireless technology and that will hurt business going forward, especially when the reviews on TripAdvisor start pouring in.
Wireless can have a negative impact on your bottom-line, but it doesn't have to be permanent. Even if you're like the resort I stayed at, you can fix your mistakes and get back on the right track.
Check out the video below to learn how network access control can help manage access to your network.
Choosing the right wireless service provider
The most critical component other than the wireless network design itself, is who is creating, deploying and supporting that design?
Choosing who to partner with is absolutely critical to designing and implementing the wireless system your hotel or resort requires the first time around.
Wireless is a mission-critical utility for every business in the hospitality industry today. You can’t afford to first-off, not have it, and second, not have it be reliable and secure.
That’s why you need to make sure when you’re starting the process of deploying wireless at your hotel/resort you partner with an experienced and qualified company.
Wireless is very complex (especially when we start to talk about outdoor, that’s a whole other animal) it takes years and years of practice as well as a multitude of certifications to get it right, we always say it’s both an art and a science.
At SecurEdge, we provide the platform to deliver a reliable, robust, and secure wireless system – it’s all we do. If you have any questions or would like to discuss an upcoming project, please contact us here.