Hotel Wi-Fi Focus: Access & Security

Hotel Wi-Fi Focus: Access & Security

When it comes to guest satisfaction in the hotel industry, quality, reliable and accessible Internet access is a top priority. Guests are often traveling with multiple Wi-Fi devices (with hotels reporting anywhere from 3 to 5 devices on average), and consumption continues to increase. Hyatt Place recently found in a guest survey that free Wi-Fi was the top amenity searched for when choosing a hotel. Hotels are responding by adding more bandwidth: according to Hospitality Technology’s 2015 Lodging Technology Study, 43% of hotels will boost the bandwidth available to public spaces over the next 18 months, and one-third will upgrade bandwidth inside the guestroom.

“Hotels always viewed networks as a one-time capital purchase, but the reality is it is evolving so fast, it has to be in the budget every year,” says Trevor Warner, president of Warner Consulting Group (www.warnerconsultinggroup.com), based in Columbus, Ohio, and providing technology and telecommunications consulting for the hospitality industry. “They have to keep looking at it and making adaptions, because they are going to be doing updates every six months to a year to keep up with what guests are doing in the hotel.”

Hotels agree that investing in a bigger pipe is no longer enough. The next adaptions focus on more robust access points, and better security.

Maintaining connections through increased access
Guests are not only bringing more devices with them, drawing on the available bandwidth, but they are also streaming more on the device, including smartphones with smaller antennas. This requires a stronger network with more access points.

“Nobody reads anything anymore, they watch it,” says Warner. “Streaming devices, like cell phones and tablets also have smaller antennas so they need a stronger network, which is sometimes more of a problem than bandwidth. You have to have both.”

When it comes to bandwidth, most hotels are offering at least 100MB to guests, but many are opting for 250MB or 1GB. At Interstate Hotels (www.interstatehotels.com) in Arlington, Va, operating 500 hotels worldwide, the company is rolling out a new program to its United States properties requiring a minimum of 30 MB, but with burstable circuits capable of handling up to 1 GB.