How To Set Up Guest Internet Access For Guest Satisfaction

by Pramod Kulkarni, VP IT, The Ambassador Group of Hotels

CIO’s critical role is to choose right technology, at right price at right situation to ensure ROI to the Organization with long term Growth aspect in strategic investment. Keeping an eye on bottom-line with futuristic view and prioritizing your need to fit in to IT Budget is essential.

Technology use in Hospitality sector, as a service industry the technology focus is always on Guest Satisfaction; thus it’s essential to invest in guest facing technology. For everyone who has some interest in technology and gadgets the times we live in are a real blessing. Earlier days we used a phone just for making calls, today it become just one of many features of mobile phone. The real challenge is speed of change in technology and thus various gadgets, softwares /Enterprise Resource planning ERP is changing everyday, the gadgets you invested just few months back became obsolete today. Internet disrupts industry after industry and offers fertile ground for applications unknown only a few years before and already widely used today.

The replacement cycle is shrinking day by day with creation of new categories in market. Apple iPhone & iPad established with a whole new category of technology. Already the widely adopted technology change by Android is even better. Since its perfect as hotel services one can think of adopting this in every guest room to give real Wow effect to their guest.

So considering change in tech­nology, shrinking replacement cycles and new categorization let’s try to get some order in this ever growing chaos and concentrate on the most important parts for Guest: Internet Access / Wifi, integration of PMS / guest software, new technology use like IP TV.

Let’s discuss on Guest internet Access setup in hotels.

Providing Internet Access to Guest:

It’s sad to say that even today in India very few ho­tels focus on superior service by providing excel­lent guest internet access, others just provides this as add on service without even thinking deep about guest satisfaction.

Guest internet/wifi is a key area of getting repeat clientele, whether it’s Corporate or Leisure, internet access has become a basic demand of any traveler globally.

What you should keep in mind while investing in a guest internet setup?

  1. Careful Study of hotel plan / structural diagram and create a heat map.
  2. Depends on your hotel’s size, project budget & hotel structure, choose right technology path – per room, corridor or outdoor solution. Try to avoid fully outdoor solution wherever possible.
  3. Point out the exact location for equipment, with this make sure that the wireless coverage is good enough in rooms, F&B outlets and public area to get good signal on tablets and smartphones.
  4. Choose correct equipment, there is wide range of product available as per your needs and the price starts from as low as INR 500 per room to as high as INR 50,000 per room.
  5. Invest in good cabling adapting future te  chnology which can support to existing as well as upcoming devices and smartphones.
  6. Bandwidth cost has reduced drastically in past couple of years, with latest de­vices the bandwidth hunger is more, even immediately after connecting with wifi devices start updating all apps thus be very care­ful selecting ISP, exact bandwidth require­ment depending on hotel size, occupan­cy, load factor, and most important that how much hotel can afford to pay.
  7. It’s recommended that you go for (1:1) leased line instead of shared bandwidth, check whether is wired or wireless link depends on feasibility for your hotel location.
  8. Choose right gateway with required features and do integration with PMS to automate the process. Without PMS integration you can look at having OTP generation to authenticate mobile number.

As mentioned above, with change in technology, shrinking replacement cycles its recommended to up­grade the wifi setup every alternate year. During pro­ject preopening stage many owners especially in mid­scale segment either didn’t have money to invest in guest network setup or they compromise on some cheap equipments or substi­tutes which affects guest network. To overcome this issue today there are various Companies available in Indian market who works on Opex model, these Companies invests in hotel’s guest network and charge a fix monthly fee for maintaining the whole setup. Some of them also provide internet bandwidth at much lower cost as a packaged deal. These Companies negotiate with ISP at macro level and thus gets the best rate for the region while single ho­tel doesn’t have a kind of negotiation power to bring down the rate as they need limited bandwidth.

I’m sure the tech­nological evolution will offer more and more possibilities in coming future, let’s be ready for it.