IN THE FIELD WITH DAVID ESSERYK -Part 6 / The Evolution of Hotel Wi-Fi

Getting it right is a headache… Getting it wrong is fatal business-wise

According to a recent survey, a hotel’s Wi-Fi connection is the most important amenity for travellers, followed by free breakfast. David Esseryk, the Accor Group’s VicePresident Consumer Technology, gives his expert point of view on how best to cater for today’s demanding guests…

Hotel guests may expect the same quality of Wi-Fi service that they enjoy at home, at work, or at their local coffee shop, but delivering that experience is a lot more challenging for hotels. To keep event attendees happy, a hotel’s Wi-Fi must service hundreds or thousands of people, each with multiple mobile devices in a crowded space. Disappointed guests will be quick to air their grievances, in person or on social media, hurting the hotel’s reputation.

Delivering Wi-Fi to Hotels is challenging for four key reasons:

When dozens or even hundreds people enter a meeting room, their wireless devices tend to associate with the wireless access point (AP) that has the strongest radio-frequency (RF) signal, and that is usually the nearest AP. But as people move around the room, their mobile devices tend to stay connected, or stick, to the original AP, slowing Wi-Fi performance and creating connectivity problems for everyone.

Having to log on multiple times in different parts of the hotel is inconvenient. Guests should have a seamless experience using the Wi-Fi, wherever they are on the hotel property. However, guests’ mobile devices tend to associate with one SSID (you know, the name of the hotel network that you ask for at the front desk…) while they are in their rooms, but when they walk over to the lobby or the convention area, their connection may drop and they will have to re-enter username and password to use the Wi-Fi with a different SSID in that area. This is often very confusing and annoying.

Demand for network (WLAN) capacity is rising fast. When hundreds of people at the same time use Wi-Fi to connect their mobile devices, there is a capacity crunch. Delivering enough Wi-Fi capacity at meetings and conventions to meet a growing demand has been at the heart of the challenge. Most wireless networks were designed to maximize RF coverage, but as the density of mobile devices increases, it’s important to shift to a WLAN network design that is also optimised for capacity. And that usually means deploying more APs.

Demand for network (WLAN) capacity is rising fast.

To ensure both a good experience for conference attendees as well as ensure smooth business operations, hotels need the ability to separate the application traffic over the same wireless network (LAN) infrastructure. Hotels should be able to separate application and other traffic by different user groups or departments, such as conference attendees, presenters, back-of-house operations such as food and beverage, as well as mission-critical operations such as safety and security systems.

Finally, call solely upon professionals who understand the specifics of hoteliers to manage your Wi-Fi system. You will see the impact on guest satisfaction.