It's official: Wi-Fi is a better fix for grumpy guests than coffee.
According to Wakefield Research, 75% of Americans would be grumpier after a week without Wi-Fi than after a week without coffee. And let’s be honest, the habit to go online at every spare moment isn’t just an American one – we’re at it all over the world.
But people often get an inconsistent Wi-Fi experience from venue to venue. Many hotels are cautious about investing in Wi-Fi, viewing it as another overhead that could impact profit margins. And while some are happy to invest and then give their customers Wi-Fi access for free, others stick on a charge, hoping to make costs back more quickly.
Keeping guests connected
Judging by the Wakefield Research data (and the experience of Zebra customers), investing in Wi-Fi and offering it for free is essential if you don't want unhappy guests.
The problem is that 3G and 4G coverage is often patchy, especially within larger buildings, or in more remote locations. So it's not surprising that hotelchatter.com reports that 94% of guests see Wi-Fi as the single most important amenity offered by hotels.
Even without statistics to make the case, the sight of so many people using smartphones shows just how much we rely on our mobile devices. After all, how do you feel when there's no coverage for your smartphone?
It's clear that Wi-Fi is an essential service for guests and, to prevent them from choosing a competitor venue, it should be free of charge.
Wi-Fi as an asset
But Zebra customers have found that reliable Wi-Fi is more than just a way of stopping guests getting fed up. They are using it as a valuable source of competitive advantage – a real differentiator that persuades guests to choose them first.
Offering Wi-Fi alone isn’t enough. It's all about the coverage and the reliability of the connection. A poor Wi-Fi service is almost worse than none at all, because the experience doesn't match guest expectations.
Let’s get technical for a moment. The challenge for hotels is the particular demand that guest Wi-Fi places on the network. Computer networks don't like change, and with guests moving around and coming and going, the wireless system has to cope with a constant stream of connections and disconnections.
Many guests these days travel with a personal smartphone and a company smartphone, as well as a laptop computer and a tablet. At different times all these devices will be connecting to the wireless network.
It's this constantly changing demand, as well as the sheer number of devices that they have to cope with, that makes hotel Wi-Fi services unreliable. And when the connections are made, guests are using bandwidth-hungry applications like video conferencing, music streaming and Skype.
Zebra Technologies has installed reliable, secure Wi-Fi in hotels all over the world. We've also helped many hoteliers improve their existing Wi-Fi services.
Customers like these have recognised that dependable hotel Wi-Fi is a business-winning asset – one that is as important as comfortable beds and a clean bathroom.
Business guests attending conferences can focus on their work, rather than worrying about the technology involved. Families with children can keep them amused with their favourite online games and TV programmes.
And these days, word of a great guest experience can spread quickly via social media and the likes of TripAdvisor – sites like these can have a powerful effect on the choices people make. The Edelman Trust Barometer states that 61% of its 31,000 participants view the opinions of people like themselves (normal consumers) as a credible source of information about a brand.
So Wi-Fi is a must-have, not just an optional extra. With a reliable, flexible service, you can use it to build goodwill, loyalty and advocacy.