In my experience, there are two key ways to look at a hotel network: from the perspective of the operator that offers connection to the guest, and from the perspective of the guest and what they need in a network. Today’s guests know what they want, but it’s up to the hotel to provide a service that meets their needs.
From Netflix binging to Zoom calls to gaming, a lot of bandwidth is necessary to support all the simultaneous usage, and the network needs to “just work” from the guest point of view to ensure a good experience. So for today’s discussion, let’s first take a look at what this means for hoteliers.
Efficient Hotel Operations With a Reliable Network Foundation
As a hotel operator, knowing what guests will need for network access will help determine what connectivity to provide for their property. This is key when choosing the proper infrastructure to support the users.
The need to provide Wi-Fi coverage throughout the property will determine how many and where access points (APs) are required. Keeping up with the wireless networking technology evolutions should be taken into consideration, and the hotel should not install outdated hardware that won’t meet the standards of recent guests and staff mobile devices.
To provide the proper amount of bandwidth, it is important to have the internet service provider (ISP) connection that will deliver either as much as needed or as much as is available in the area. (There are still localities where bandwidth is not cheap or plentiful). The internal hotel network should offer links between different areas of the property back to the central ISP termination point that are as high as possible to avoid bottlenecks.
Despite the highest connections, there may still be a bottleneck at the edge of the network as it connects to the ISP. To address this, a Nomadix Gateway will handle both the authentication and bandwidth controls for the guests. It will also help with their onboarding – making it easy whether using a simple connection and acceptance of the terms and conditions for the hotel or a full-tiered access that integrates with the property management system (PMS) to validate checked-in guests and possibly charge the internet fees to their hotel room. A great network that meets the rising expectations and needs of the guests should be the goal of any hotel network.
The Ideal Guest Experience
Now that we’ve met the priority of guests to stay connected with work, family and friends via content streaming, video calls, email, shopping, you name it, the next thing that guests will look for is good coverage for the wireless network.
Often the cellular network is reduced in the hotel, meaning the guest will have to rely on the Wi-Fi network to stay connected. It can be tough for a user to know if there will be good coverage for the wireless signal; they just have to experience it and hope for the best. It is critical for a hotel to properly design a full site Wi-Fi coverage – taking into account future demand evolution – rather than guessing or trying to cut costs, which will only result in frustrations and non-returning customers.
Another feature that guests look for is ease of access and how simple it is to actually get connected to the network. Can they get access the first time through the branded landing page? Is it easy to know what wireless network to connect to? Do they have the ability to share a connection with multiple devices?
If the bandwidth management, Wi-Fi coverage and frictionless onboarding are taken care of by the hotel, most guest experience with the network will be optimal, and there shouldn’t be many complaints or issues. Most users just expect the above to work, so while they might not give additional praise when the service is good, they will certainly be quick to complain on social media in case of any issues, potentially damaging the hotel image and future income.
Travel demand is recovering and operators are already booking for next year’s business travelers, conferences, weddings, etc. – which all have at least one thing in common: an expectation for a trouble-free experience, especially when it comes to Wi-Fi connectivity in and around the hotel. Stay tuned for a follow-up post where I will dive deeper into our Nomadix Networks portfolio of internet gateways, wireless access points, controllers and LAN switches to help explain the important components impacting the hotel networks.
Jeremy Cook is the product manager for the Nomadix gateways. He has worked with Nomadix for 21 years, joining the organization in quality assurance and moving through systems and pre-sales engineering and to his current role in Product Management.