This Halloween, be sure to offer more Wi-Fi treats than tricks. Hotel brands work tirelessly to deliver 5-star experiences across all their properties. 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 hotel Wi-Fi networks
Historically, hotel networks have been 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 hotel in a brand 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 guest Wi-Fi experience at every property in a brand. 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 property to property. Loyalty members cannot count on their hotel brand to guarantee them consistent, familiar high performance Wi-Fi as they travel from place to place.
Today, hotel guests expect a familiar log-in experience and predictable, high performance Wi-Fi– at every hotel they visit within your brand. This creates a significant challenge for hotel 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. Imagine letting each one of your general managers select his or her own soaps and towels. Crazy, right? Not only is it inefficient and inconsistent, there’s no way to negotiate better rates for equipment or volume discounts on service.. The same is true for Wi-Fi. In fact, it’s more important given the ongoing costs of upgrading your infrastructure to meet demand for bandwidth.
Why is it so hard to create a terrifyingly great Wi-Fi experience?
Creating an aggregate view of Wi-Fi performance across all hotel properties in a brand seems virtually impossible. A typical Wi-Fi network (like the one at your house) typically requires a piece of hardware and a service provider to work. At a hotel, multiply that by your room count and add in your meeting rooms and other shared space (lobby, pool, bar, 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 hotel 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 of middleware 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.
Central authentication will revive your Wi-Fi 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.