This post was edited and upated in October 2017 for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
When guests expectations match what is provided, they are more likely to come back again and again. Wi-Fi is no exception. Guests want to stay seamlessly connected across all their devices. However, this can be tricky when your Wi-Fi network is stitched together like Frankenstein's monster.
The scary state of many guest networks
Many guest networks are managed at the individual property level with local IT managers selecting hardware, software, and service providers to manage the guest experience. In a sense, every single location is its’ own Wi-Fi network. Each of these has its own network hardware configuration being implemented and supported by what could be hundreds of network integrators or managed service providers around the globe.
For guests, this means having a different experience each time they visit. Wi-Fi network names (SSIDs) are not uniform, and it is hard to figure out which one to connect to. Captive portals and log-in processes vary. Worse yet, Wi-Fi performance may vary widely from place to place.
People expect a familiar log-in experience and predictable, high performance Wi-Fi always and everywhere. This creates a significant challenge for brands to stitch together various hardware and software platforms and align various service providers to standardize the Wi-Fi experience across each location worldwide.
What’s more, most brands do not capitalize on economies of scale when it comes to Wi-Fi system procurement and service. Not only is it inefficient and inconsistent, there’s no way to negotiate better rates for equipment or volume discounts on service. It's important that companies with guest Wi-Fi—from retail to apartments to hotels—centralize network management under one platform.
Why is it so hard to create a terrifyingly great Wi-Fi experience?
Creating an aggregate view of Wi-Fi performance seems virtually impossible. A typical Wi-Fi network (like the one at your house) requires a piece of hardware and a service provider to work. At a hotel or apartment, multiply that by your room count and add in your meeting rooms and other shared space (lobby, pool, etc.). Then let’s factor in all the third-party systems we want to talk to each other to create a great Wi-Fi experience—from property management systems (PMS) to loyalty databases. Now we’ve really started to weave a tangled web.
Now multiply this times all of your locations, and it’s even more difficult to create a consistent experience across the myriad systems, providers, and hardware. Hospitality is uniquely challenging with its various guest information systems. What is needed is a layer between the network and other systems that allows you to provision Internet service, use standard login portal templates and create consistent Wi-Fi experiences that guests love.
Centralized Wi-Fi management will revive your guest experience
A cloud-based guest Wi-Fi management platform can help you manage Wi-Fi through an easy web interface at the property level or across all of the properties in your brand portfolio. Pre-built integrations to the leading hardware and hospitality PMS and loyalty systems and relationships with hospitality service providers become a must to simplify the work for the hotel brand.