Great WiFi for Holteliers & Guests
WiFi that benefits guests and hoteliers?
Of course, you want to provide great guest WiFi, but what can it provide you the hotelier?
Let’s concentrate first on what’s required for the great guest experience.
A WiFi Survey:
To enable great WiFi the design must be right. This all comes from an initial survey that takes into account many factors –
Coverage per Access Point(AP) - so as not to overload any Access Point we turn down the transmit power. Yes, you heard right – we turn it down, which provides a smaller cell pattern (smaller can be better in this case) & in conjunction with higher data rates provides better throughput. The AP still has to cover the desired area, so walls, floors, furniture all taken into account.
Capacity - how many devices can that model of Access Point handle? APs vary greatly in specifications. Models vary in CPU/Memory/Ethernet-ports/number of antenna & WiFi standards supported(802.1a,b,g,n,ac,ax). Also, a conference Hall would usually benefit from using directional antennas to provide a very specific coverage pattern, thus enabling greater capacity per head.
Interference – interference can come from many areas. But in hotels Microwaves near the kitchens can severely affect the 2.4GHz band, along with any Bluetooth systems. That’s one reason to design the network to use the 5GHz band primarily. The main reason to use the 5GHz band though is to minimise Co-Channel interference. The 2.4GHz band only has 3 non-overlapping channels (1,6,11) whereas the 5GHz band has many more – 15/16 generally in the UK. So, it makes sense to try & get guests using this band.
Usage: How many SSIDs (WiFi networks) do you require? Tip – keep this to a minimum as they eat up valuable airtime! One for Guest, one for the admin network, one for the payment/POS system? Those networks need keeping separate, so you need a fully VLAN’d system all the way through the system. Can/does your current network provide this?
For more about Surveys see: https://www.performancenetworks.co.uk/wifi-site-surveys-and-consultancy/
So, you’ve got a great internal WiFi system? Well, It will mean nothing if your internet connection isn’t up to the task! Unfortunately, this is all too often the case. A 70-room hotel running off of an ADSL link – yes, we have seen this before!
What then is required? What should you base your decision on? Bear in mind that most guests have 2-3 devices(phone/tablet/laptop) & a good percentage will want to stream their favourite boxset or films whilst onsite. Who pays for hotel films anymore? This requires some serious bandwidth https://help.netflix.com/en/node/306, as most guests want to watch HD quality streams – at 5Mbps per device. Add onto that Video calls, emails with attachments etc & you can soon use up a serious amount of bandwidth. Bear in mind asynchronous (large download/small upload) connections such as ADSL are negatively affected on the download if the upload connection is saturated.
So, the upload side can be as important as the download.
What internet connection you need onsite is difficult to calculate off the shelf. It is best to all sit down and decide what kind of WiFi experience you want your guests to have. There are things that can be done to help manage the connections use – such as rate limiting (ensuring single devices don’t hog too much of the available bandwidth) & filtering illegal sites(music/film downloads/P2P)
You can also load balance multiple internet connections – 2-3 fibre broadband lines for example. This provides extra speed & redundancy should one link fail. Or the granddaddy of them all – a leased line with a DSL backup. This is usually the most expensive option, but with good reason & the only real viable option for large hotels. https://www.performancenetworks.co.uk/leased-lines/
Bottom line – do NOT skimp here! Buy the best connection possible. We can help guide this decision based on our sector experience. We can also setup monitoring on any existing connections to see just how they are be used & whether or not you need to upgrade – please contact us for further guidance: https://www.performancenetworks.co.uk/contact/
Not managing/meeting guest expectations:
Now, you may have covered the above points, but are still receiving guest complaints.
So, what else could go wrong?
You’ve ran out of IP addresses – the subnet isn’t large enough, or the DHCP lease time is too long. Usually both.
Internet connection is flaky or saturated.
Switches or Access points are down & not servicing clients.
Clients aren’t connected to the correct/nearest Access point.
Using a guest portal? If so, can guests logon easily via acceptance of T&Cs, Email address or Social Media login (Facebook/twitter/Instagram/LinkedIn etc). This can cause issues – usually user issues or the logon page doesn’t automatically pop up making it easy to sign in. Or the users get scared by a pop-up saying the connection isn’t secure(non-HTTPS)
To help with the above 7 any other matters we operate a 365, 24/7 UK based helpdesk. This covers both pro-active & reactive support.
Pro-active – we monitor the internet feed, firewall, switches & access points. We receive alerts should any issues arise. We can usually fix 90+% of problems this way – most before the venue even realises there is a problem.
Reactive – taking calls from reception or the individual user on any specific problem. The helpdesk can then “see” the user device on the network to determine the exact issue. These problems are usually fixed whilst the user is on the line. If it looks to take a little longer we will take the guests details & call them back within 5-10 minutes.
Now, what are the benefits for the hotelier?
Peace of mind – it’s a fully managed service – 365 24/7. We can provide monthly reports of any tickets raised – both pro-active & reactive. We can also provide a venue logon for our cloud monitoring servers, so you can see in real time how your network is performing.
Data – our guest portal Supafi https://www.performancenetworks.co.uk/supafi/ is fully GDPR compliant. So, if users opt in you can receive the following benefits:
- A bespoke (to your venue) log-on page for guests that then redirects users to a webpage of your choice.
- They can logon simply via acceptance of T&Cs,an email address or Social media logon details.
This enables marketing via Social Media and email addresses through your own cloud portal, where you’ll also be able to see who’s accessing your network via a series of infographics, charts & graphs making all that guest data meaningful.
Revenue generation – either
- Directly – via the guest portal option of charging for WiFi access. Although, we would recommend at least allowing a free lower bandwidth option & only charging for a premium service at most.
- Indirectly – marketing using the collected portal data.
Security – using VLAN & encryption methods we can securely segregate any WiFi networks from one another. That means you can utilise the same hardware for say your Guest, Admin & POS systems for compliance (e.g. PCI DSS)
Experience – we have gained this over many years. We know what is required for WiFi to work for all parties concerned. We can integrate into onsite systems via APIs & also provide IP-CCTV & IP-based phones systems to compliment the WiFi offering.
If you would like any more information on the above or flexible payment options(CAPEX or OPEX) then please speak to one of the team. We’re here to help. https://www.performancenetworks.co.uk/contact/