Hospitality Blogs

Steps to a Successful Hotel WiFi Upgrade

Whether a high-end luxury resort or an independent boutique property, Wi-Fi service quality continues to be ranked as one of the most important factors that can make or break a guest’s stay. Access to Wi-Fi in fact continues to be regarded as more important than offerings such as complimentary breakfast, housekeeping, and free parking according to industry surveys.

This hardly comes as a surprise as more guests than ever travel with multiple devices and expect to experience nothing less than a fast and reliable hotel internet connection for each. Hoteliers have responded to these growing demands on their Wi-Fi service capabilities by prioritizing the investment of network infrastructure upgrades.

Yet as can often be the case with any overhaul of a property’s technology stack, failure to follow best practices and understand precisely what is required can turn what should have been a straightforward upgrade into a time-consuming and costly endeavor resulting in guest dissatisfaction. With property reputations and revenue more at stake than ever before when it comes to meeting guest online expectations, discover the key steps that should always be front and center in the minds of hoteliers seeking to keep pace with evolving industry standards.

Begin by Performing a Wi-Fi Site Survey

Hoteliers can make the mistake of believing that a Wi-Fi upgrade merely involves the purchasing and installing of new high-performance network hardware. However, sidestepping any sort of pre-installation network analysis more likely than not will result in a failure to adequately address unique property needs and can lead to issues such as Wi-Fi dead spots or online traffic bottlenecks

Before making any purchasing and installation decisions, a hotelier’s first step should therefore be to work with an experienced and reputable provider in order to perform a full scale, property-wide network site survey. Able to utilize advanced software including heat maps, such providers can equip property leadership with a visual and fully comprehensive representation of current network performance health. This importantly can reveal any specific onsite locations experiencing poor signal penetration or lackluster speeds.

An effective survey also crucially reveals where hardware such as Wi-Fi signal access points and Ethernet cabling should be ideally installed to meet service quality goals throughout a location. Just as vital to hotel budgets, it can also reduce the cost of installation by eliminating any unnecessary hardware purchases which if installed, can potentially cause unintended results such as Wi-Fi signal interruption.

Support Your Network Upgrade with a High-quality Router

With a multitude of expenses vying to be included in a property’s budget, hoteliers can be forgiven for seeking out less costly alternatives. Yet when it comes to ensuring high-performance Wi-Fi, a property’s router quality should always be non-negotiable. As the central network component tasked with managing data and communication between devices and the internet, a router’s capabilities or lack thereof can make all the difference between meeting guest expectations or experiencing an increase in unsatisfactory reviews.

The first thing to consider is that routers designed for consumer homes or small businesses are substantially ill-equipped to handle the multitude of devices seeking an internet connection at hotels or resorts on a daily basis. Such routers are typically more affordable because they are designed using a slower processor and less memory, two critical aspects for ensuring a reliable and high-performance connection for guest devices. Investing in the appropriate router hardware will allow hoteliers to accommodate many more guest devices without experiencing the dropped or slow connections that have become almost synonymous with hotel Wi-Fi services.

Access Points: Your Hotel’s Key to Property-wide Wi-Fi Satisfaction

Wi-Fi access points are what ensure that internet connectivity is able to reach guest devices scattered throughout a property. They are responsible for ensuring a strong and reliable Wi-Fi signal within each guestroom and public area. As a result, hoteliers should consider access point selection and installation areas carefully when planning any network upgrade.

Wi-Fi access points are what ensure that internet connectivity is able to reach guest devices scattered throughout a property. They are responsible for ensuring a strong and reliable Wi-Fi signal within each guestroom and public area. As a result, hoteliers should consider access point selection and installation areas carefully when planning any network upgrade.

In years long since passed and prior to the advent of smart devices, properties could get away with installing access points within hotel hallways in order to reduce hardware purchase costs. Yet with today’s low-powered Wi-Fi devices and with guests now frequently performing bandwidth-intensive activities such as content streaming, this approach is simply not an option for hotels seeking to provide a high-quality experience.

Instead, hoteliers need to move to an in-room access point deployment strategy that can provide each guest device with the strong and uninterrupted Wi-Fi signal quality now universally required. Placing access points within guestrooms notably eliminates interference caused by signals otherwise having to penetrate obstacles such as walls, ducts, and bathrooms. Access points placed too closely together in hallways can also cause signal interference with each other, leading to the frequent occurrence of latency and data loss, which guests simply call “slow” or “bad” internet. While not having to place an access point in every guestroom, hoteliers should work with a knowledgeable provider in identifying strategic locations where placement guarantees effective property-wide coverage capable of meeting performance expectations. Investments should further be made in adopting advanced access points that can automatically switch Wi-Fi signal frequency channels whenever encountering interference in order to maintain consistent reliability and fast speeds.

Create Separate Networks for Guests and Backend Operations

Guests are far from the only ones seeking to connect to a hotel’s internet. In today’s hyper-connected world, the vast majority of operational systems and services likewise also require a stable and fast online connection in order to function correctly. This means that a hotel’s operations can often be competing with guest devices over receiving a share of network bandwidth, with both often obtaining less than satisfactory performance as a result. To sidestep this issue, any upgrade should include equipment capable of per-network, precise bandwidth management and allocation, as well as sufficient coverage in common areas and utility and back-of-house spaces, minimizing any risk of guest frustration or bringing operations to a sudden grinding halt.

The use of separate guest and operational Wi-Fi networks is also strongly recommended as a measure to heighten a hotel’s cybersecurity abilities. With sensitive information including point-of-sale or PMS data often the target of hackers, a segregated network importantly provides hoteliers with the ability to implement separate policies and security protocols to provide at-risk systems with the highest level of protection without creating inconveniences for guests. In the event of a cyber-attack, separate networks also allow hoteliers to more swiftly identify the source of a breach, quarantine it and implement an effective response before a threat escalates further.

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