The importance of being connected..

The area of our business that has interested me recently is the increasing importance of Wi-Fi. Most importantly the need for people to remain connected at all times (with Wi-Fi even being cheekily added to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs as shown in the picture).  This is of particular importance in the hospitality sector where Wi-Fi, especially free to use, has gone from being a nice to have to almost a pre-requisite as a report by hotels.com in 2015 highlights.

Interestingly, free Wi-Fi is a key consideration for 49% of business travellers in their choice of hotels, with free breakfast second at just 14%.  Even for leisure travellers it is a prime factor with over 25% of customers listing it as critical in their choice of hotels, more important than free parking (15%) and even the availability of a swimming pool (10%).

This was really brought home to me was on my recent summer holiday in Greece. The resort I was staying at temporarily had a Wi-Fi outage.  Watching the reaction of my fellow guests around the pool as a result of the 30 or so minute failure of the hotel’s routers was illuminating.  In fact, and this is my observation and in no way scientific, I think it might have been better for the resort to have run out of wine or ice cream such was the discontent caused to the guests of not being able to access the internet, presumably to update their friends or followers on how fantastically their holiday was going!

From a business perspective we have certainly seen a significant increase in investment from our clients in the hospitality sector in their Wi-Fi capabilities. With a number upgrading both their internal infrastructure as well as connectivity via upgraded internet connections. Indeed, even non-hospitality clients have been getting in on the act by upgrading office Wi-Fi connectivity such is the importance to both the business and the staff they employ.

What was really interesting, as I got up to speed on a number of these projects (cue more eye-rolling from our amazing techies), is that there are quite a number of considerations concerning Wi-Fi that never really occurred to me, including:

  1. Security – What are the protocols in place to prevent guests from accessing your main network, other visitor’s devices and from downloading materials that are contrary to your policies including viruses, illegal materials or sending spam emails for example.
  1. Systems – What infrastructure do you have in place including cabling, access points and system types including those that can self heal. Especially important considerations in older buildings with stone walls or over large sites such as resort hotels or warehouses where multiple access points will be required.
  1. Connectivity – Put simply do you have the internet speeds to cope with the number of users you plan to have.  Weirdly, according to my team, this is the one area that often gets overlooked and results in a lot of frustrated users!

Whilst I might not understand all of the various technical elements of a Wi-Fi system as a business owner I do understand the need to keep my staff connected and able to work and also keeping customers happy.  For me, after watching the effect of Wi-Fi failure first hand this year and seeing the investment our clients are making, being able to access the internet and use devices is clearly a business critical issue for all and especially for the hospitality sector.  It appears in the modern age being able to use your various devices, even by the pool, is up there with eating and drinking…and perhaps more important than that!

 My other ramblings can be followed on Twitter if you feel the need via  @MartinRSpiller

Want to access a more in-depth blog about the issues of guest Wi-Fi? Please check it out here or get in touch with one of our amazing team here

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