Here’s Why Fast and Free Hotel WiFi is Still Critical in 2021

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Here’s Why Fast and Free Hotel WiFi is Still Critical in 2021

By Larry and Adam Mogelonsky, originally published in Hotel Technology News

It’s a lucrative and commendable effort for a hotel to investigate any and all means to implement technological solutions that will help to boost the guest experience, save costs, reduce direct human contact or a mix of the three. In what we’re calling the ‘great technology reset for hotels’, the post-pandemic era will see the way hotels operate rapidly evolve from high touch and tech-phobic to widely no touch and tech-philic. But as the metaphorical blood for many of these systems and devices, your wireless internet must work.

This goes far beyond BOH processes. Yes, many properties are moving to a cloud-based PMS while IoT devices are allowing for new levels of product customization and energy savings. While all of these put more strain on your available bandwidth (as well as your security apparatuses, but that’s a whole other topic), requiring diligent IT personnel to monitor them at all times, let’s think about WiFi from the FOH perspective, especially in light of many of the travel behavior changes since COVID-19.

The Rise of the Digital Nomad

This past year has witnessed a profound shift in how, when and where people work. Digital nomadism was a trend well before 2020, but the pandemic accelerated this movement by making remote work mainstream. Although it’s inevitable for the office commute to return, many will choose to keep the flexibility of staying home throughout the week.

Whatever name you choose to call this now-common psychographic, the revenue opportunity for brands is in knowing that if a person can work from anywhere, then that means they can work from your hotel. But much like all of our BOH tech stacks, guests need a fast and uninterrupted internet connection in order to accommodate all those Zoom meetings then chill out afterwards with some Netflix, perhaps streamed poolside.

No doubt you’ve already spent loads of capex to install a great onsite WiFi network and deploy a team to vigilantly monitor it every day. It’s not just the system, however, but how confident these digital nomads are in your network prior to booking.

An Example Scenario

Suppose for next winter, and long after you’ve gotten your vaccine, you and your loved one opt to escape the drudgeries of the cold, gray urban life for a week in the Caribbean. Why a week? If your company policy going forward allows you both to work remotely and you have no in-person gatherings on the books, then you can in theory spend a whole month down south. After a quick check of the finances, you decide just that.

Something is stopping you, though – a lingering fear on the back of your mind. You are hesitant to book a whole month rather than just a week because you aren’t sure if the hotel will have good enough WiFi to support videoconferencing once you arrive. Most people in the modern, globetrotting, professional class can afford to go one week without going online for work. A month is Russian roulette.

Therefore, a lack of confidence in your hotel’s WiFi speed is a dealbreaker for travelers hoping to squeeze in some inbox clearing between mojitos on the beach. For you, the hotelier, it’s a huge difference in the type of guests you can attract as well as how much you can increase LOS. There’s also TripAdvisor. Given this third party’s influence, one “bad WiFi” comment can cost you many thousands of dollars in reservations as guests avoid properties where work may be compromised.

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Hotel Technology News, published by Starfleet Media, is the hospitality industry's premier source of information and insights related to technology innovation at top-performing hotels.