Jan 20, 2023

By Sarah Davison, Industry Reporter

For an accommodation business and its guests, connectivity is an opportunity for growth, productivity and interaction. From a business perspective, a fast and secure internet connection allows staff to do their job with ease.

For today’s guests, having accessible and fast internet throughout an accommodation is non-negotiable. Whether it’s business, pleasure or both, being able to stay in contact with friends and family, uploading holiday snaps on Instagram or binge streaming their favourite TV series, guests now demand to stay connected.

A recent study by a North American internet provider highspeedinternet.com surveyed 1000 travellers and found that 81 percent described wifi access as an “essential” while on holiday. Over six out of 10 respondents (64 percent) said they consider internet speed when booking a short-term rental or hotel.
And nearly 90 percent said they would be less likely to book a hotel if their reviews mentioned bad wifi.  Unsurprisingly, nine out of 10 survey respondents reported bringing a smartphone on trips, while more than half (55 percent) also took their laptop with them.  Meanwhile, 18 per cent said they love to travel with a gaming console such as a Nintendo Switch. It’s not all play and no work, with 65 percent of survey respondents reporting that they’ve worked remotely while staying at a hotel.

And with the rise of digital nomads and the return of the business traveller, you must ensure your wifi allows guests to catch that Zoom meeting or meet an important deadline.

If it’s been a while since you’ve assessed your accommodation’s connectivity, a clear first step is to conduct a wireless site survey. With wireless site surveys, it is possible to test signal strength at all points of a hotel, minimising the possibility of black spots in your wifi connection.  To conduct a wireless site survey, there are a number of free resources available online.

Alternatively, speak to an expert to see how they can assist your hotel to minimise any internet black spots.  If after your site survey it becomes clear that your accommodation has some black spots, it may be the perfect time to upgrade your setup.

However, knowing where to begin can be a daunting task.  To help you understand the latest wifi technology on the market and current recommendations, AccomNews sat down with Time Out Internet director Judy Senn.

With over twenty years experience in IT, Ms Senn knows what accommodation providers need to look out for in their internet connection and what guests are expecting from their wifi connectivity.

What are the connectivity requirements of guests today?
The modern-day guest wants to connect multiple devices quickly, easily and securely.  Incredibly I’ve seen units with 30 devices connected!
Additionally, accommodation providers need fast bandwidth availability (a minimum of 24 Mbps per unit/room) and unlimited data.
Instead of switching on the television, in 2023, guests want to be able to securely cast their own content to the hotel room television.  To facilitate this, an easy solution is to plug in a Chromecast. These work immediately so guests can watch their own subscriptions without having to enter their login details to the television.
How can an accommodation’s connectivity best meet increased demand, to ensure a seamless experience for guests?
I suggest a Secure Network (SSID) within the unit or room, with its own unique password. This makes it easy for connectivity of any device, it’s what today’s guests expect and have at home.
Furthermore, a fibre connection to run the guest wifi, will ensure the guest can stream in Ultra HD if required on multiple devices.
What about network security?
Again, providing a Secure Network (SSID) within the unit or room with its own unique password, should help protect guest data.  Additionally, accommodation providers should have a firewall in each unit or room.
What are the best strategies to ensure maximum network coverage?
I recommend that each unit or room should have its own router, access point or modem depending on the technology that can be used at the site.
Some larger units/areas may require two or more routers, access points or modems, or boosters can be used to increase signal coverage.  To assist this process, there are numerous tools and apps that can be used to test signal coverage.
Tell us what the future holds?
There are bound to be technological advances that will provide faster speeds for units and rooms in hospitality settings.  Additionally, more Internet of Things (IOT) connectivity and smart devices integrated into units and rooms. I also believe there will be more voice command devices and integration within the accommodation setting. All of which will need isolation in each unit/room, not one signal across a complex.

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