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Guest wifi networks: how hospitality can improve user experience and network security

A decade ago, you may recall that a guest WiFi network was considered a luxury when you checked into a hotel or venue.

So much so, that it used to be an add-on or a bonus that you used to have to pay extra just for the privilege of access.

However, fast forward to the here and now, and guest WiFi is no longer considered that shiny optional. In this digital-first world, access is not just an expectation but so is a good quality service. 

Its importance can’t be underestimated. At the end of 2020, a report showed that 60% of millennials say that free WiFi is their number one perk. Also, 96% of consumers said they preferred establishments that offered free WiFi over not.

And, for us, we’re predicting a change in the wind, one that will see a shift from portals to systems that provide separate WiFi passwords, particularly at those venues where guests are sticking around for longer periods of time.

This switch is being done with two things in mind:

  • To deliver a better and more streamlined user experience
  • To improve network security at a time where cyber security threats are at an all-time high

Firstly, what is a guest wifi network and how does it work?

A guest Wi-Fi network is a separate access point on your router. When you’re at home, all of your smart home devices – your phones, tablets, laptops, and smart TVs – are all connected to one point. However, a guest network is completely different point, one separate from the primary network that provides access to the internet. 

As a scenario, let’s say you’re checking into a hotel with your partner, family member, or friend.

You enter the room, unpack, and then try and hook your mobile devices – your phone or tablet – to the guest WiFi. You log-in via a captive portal, enter your email address and personal details, and, finally, you’re in. 

Instead, let’s switch that out. Instead, let’s move to a position where you simply share a WiFi key (or password) that could easily be emailed out to you before you even arrive.

Essentially, the hotel would be creating a ‘home away from home’ service and experience.

Having the ability to set up these private networks is great news for businesses and establishments, too.

Working in the same way as for customers, when a staff member goes into the office and needs to get on the WiFi, they can get a password emailed to them before they even arrive – allowing them to quickly and easily log in to their own personal and secure WiFi connection sectioned away from anything or anybody on the network. 

free guest wifi network

Why it’s worth it and what are the benefits of guest WiFi?

It comes back to those two reasons: user experience and security.

For hotels, bars, restaurants, venues, trade shows and places of education, this form of an improved guest WiFi network makes the experience more personalised for the user. In our opinion, it also comes with a heap of other benefits which we cover in a separate blog. 

But also gives you as a business owner extra security.

It goes without saying that it’s not good network security practice to have a WiFi password that never changes, leaving you in a position where repeat visitors are automatically connected to your network. 

By providing unique passwords to set up a guest, you can have total control of when it will expire whenever the predefined session is over – whether that’s in an hour, a week, or even a year! This flexibility makes this system perfect for a whole range of venues, from hotels to multiple occupancies.

How do the passwords work?

In a bid to get ready for these forms of WiFi taking over in the future, Performance Networks is building a tool to manage personal password distribution, which would be used as a guest management portal.

Will Evans, our Director, explained: “In terms of passwords, you could upload a list of users, integrate to other booking or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems or generate passwords on the fly and just before they arrive on-site the system would automatically fire out unique WiFi passwords so they can connect instantly to the internet on arrival.

Having a system which can help manage and distribute your passwords prior to somebody arriving is crucial. As with all security measures, there’s always added complexity – but managing this is essential for this new system’s success. 

Performance Networks added: “You need to ease admin and hardship for people, so having a system where you can manage users very easily is going to be key in helping with that.”

We hope that you found this post about guest wifi networks helpful and if you have any further questions or need some advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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