Public Wi-Fi is a necessity for any guest at your hotel or guest house. You may be surprised to realise that Wi-Fi is as important as hot water for some of your guests.
Providing a fast, reliable, secure Wi-Fi connection can have its challenges. TechCare have expertise and experience in designing and implementing Public Wi-Fi Solutions for hotels and guest houses. That’s why we thought it would be a good idea to share some of our experience so that you don’t get caught out with your next Public Wi-Fi solution.
Start with your broadband
Before you start looking at Wi-Fi hardware and installation companies, ensure that you have an adequate broadband connection for the guest capacity.
Start by looking at how many rooms you have and then see how many guests you would expect to be connected to Wi-Fi at any one time. Remember, guests may want to connect up to two devices at the same time (an iPad and an iPhone for instance), so its probably a good idea to base your concurrent connection count on two devices accessing the internet in each room. Once you know this information you can start to work out what speed broadband you will need.
Most smaller hotels or guest houses with no more than 20 rooms should be okay with a fibre based business broadband such as BT Infinity. This type of connection can provide download speeds of up to 80Mbps and Upload of up to 10Mbps, which should be more than adequate for 40 concurrent connections based on web and email browsing.
Problems can occur when you have more users accessing video or audio content at the same time but most Wi-Fi installation companies can design a solution to cope with the extra traffic or even restrict certain types of content completely.
If you live in an area that doesn’t yet have a fibre broadband offering then you may need to look at a ‘leased line’ solution. These connections are provided by your internet service provider such as BT and are a dedicated connection to your hotel from the exchange. They provide faster connection speeds and enhanced service level agreements over business broadband products but monthly prices start at around £300.00. A big price difference in comparison to BT infinity which is available form just £30.00 per month.
If you already have a broadband connection for your business systems, don’t assume you need a separate connection for the guest access. Any experienced Wi-Fi installation company should be able to configure the network so that you use your existing broadband connection but the public traffic is segregated from your private network.
Range extenders probably wont work
Whenever we go to see a new hotel prospect, they have usually had a go at sorting out the Wi-Fi problems themselves. Off the shelf hardware such as range extenders or home plug adapters (devices that plug into your mains sockets to pass network data across your electrical circuits) are the first weapons of choice for DIY Wi-Fi hoteliers.
Wi-Fi connectivity is quite complicated and understanding how to design a Wi-Fi solution that provides complete coverage across a hotel requires experience, specialist hardware and expensive survey software.
So, don’t be too embarrassed if you have spent money on equipment from local technology stores only to find that it hasn’t solved your Wi-Fi woes – it is something we see quite a lot and we believe that there is nosubstitute for a professional Wi-Fi implementation.
Managed doesn’t necessarily mean supported
If you are talking to Wi-Fi installation companies about Wi-Fi systems for your hotel, they may mention the word ‘managed’ quite often. Just be careful with their terminology of the word. In most cases the term ‘managed’ refers to the hardware solution and not the type of after sales support. A managed Wi-Fi system uses a device called a controller to communicate with the Access points (‘router like’ devices) around the hotel. The controller ensures that client devices such as laptops, smartphones and tablet pc’s can remain connected to the network as they roam between access points. In an un-managed system, the user would lose connectivity when moving between different areas of the hotel. Most modern Wi-Fi systems are managed and controller based, providing a better experience for the customer.
Cloud, Lease or Outright purchase
When purchasing a Wi-Fi system for your hotel, you will receive different solution options and very different prices depending on the solution type. In summary, there are three different types of Wi-Fi purchase.
- Cloud Based – You pay a monthly price for the service. You never own the hardware and if you stop paying the subscription, the Wi-Fi stops working and the hardware is collected.
- Lease Purchase – You pay monthly for the Hardware, normally over a three year period. At the end of the lease you can take title of the hardware and you own the Wireless infrastructure.
- Outright Purchase – You pay in full for the hardware and installation at the time of purchase. Most Wi-Fi solutions should last a five year life cycle so although your CAPEX is much higher your OPEX is minimal and TCO greatly reduced over the equipment lifecycle.
Regulations for Public Wi-Fi are very ‘grey’ to say the least. We think a best practice approach for any public Wi-Fi provider is to ensure that you log the details of anybody using your network. You can do this manually by providing a one-time guest code that expires after a certain period of time or we can integrate solutions that require the guest to sign into your Wi-Fi by connecting with their social media accounts or filling out a registration form.
We also have solutions that can restrict the types of content that users can access. With a best practices approach you can ensure that you are able to provide a safe experience for your guests and mitigate yourself away from legal issues that could occur if a guest were to use your network for illegal activities.
Increase Sales and market your hotel
Good Public Wi-Fi in your hotel will certainly help to fill rooms but there are ways you can get even more out of your Wi-Fi. We have solutions that can collect important marketing information from your guests during Wi-Fi login and we can use that to help with future marketing campaigns. When a user accesses your public Wi-Fi, we can configure the system to auto tweet or post to facebook a message such as ‘Joe Bloggs is enjoying a nice stay at the Sands Hotel’, thus improving your social appearance.
So, there are a few things to keep in mind when thinking about improving or implementing Public Wi-Fi at your hotel or guest house.
If you need any help or you would like to arrange a visit from one of our Wi-Fi experts please call 01543 672123 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In the meantime, please take a look at some of the recent Hotel Wi-Fi installations we have carried out on our testimonials page