Is Hotel WiFi up to the Task of the 'Workation'?

11th Aug 2016

It’s that time of year again; the kids are off, the wasps are out and the beer is slightly warmer than usual. All of which are great reasons to get out of the office and to go in search of sunnier climes and questionable exchange rates.

However, our summer holidays are rarely times of total ignorance and bliss as to the goings-on back at HQ. In fact they are increasingly filled with dread as we concern ourselves with growing workloads and unopened emails. It can often be a challenge to fully ‘switch off’ from work for even a weekend, let alone a week or more, and the temptation to remain connected may just be too much…before you know it you’ve replaced your long-awaited vacation with a ‘WORKATION’.

What about the numbers?

How many of us favour poolside email checking over the latest bestselling novel? The institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) has found that three in every five UK workers find it impossible to cut-ties completely when on annual leave. Here’s what they found:

  • 61% of employees work during annual leave.
  • 73% of staff are more anxious in the period of time leading up to their holidays.
  • 64% are reading and responding to emails.
  • 40% of people prefer smartphones - the most common ‘workation’ mode of connection.

So what is driving this behaviour? Looming deadlines are nothing new, so we must conclude that the exponential growth and accessibility of wireless technology is the catalyst for this ‘workation’ epidemic. Not only this, we interchange from laptop or desktop to smartphone so seamlessly that our ability to connect around the clock has already become entirely normalised.

What does this mean for Wi-Fi provision?

Let’s assume – quite possibly the safest assumption of all time – that our propensity for ‘workation’ behaviour is unlikely to wane any time soon. The implications for hotels and holiday parks, bars and restaurants are indeed significant. Our expectations of wireless guest access have evolved dramatically from simple availability to not only it being free of charge but that it will meet our very high performance standards.

The equation is a straightforward one: poor hotel/guest Wi-Fi = negative feedback on influential sites such as TripAdvisor.

Hoteliers are seemingly taking note as adding bandwidth is a top objective for 45% of operators according to a 2016 industry study. This impetus on performance would appear more than justified given that 38% of hotel guests say that they would seek to book elsewhere if Wi-Fi access was either unavailable or – often worse – was of disappointing quality.

Hotel Wi-Fi can be a two-way street

Whilst satisfied guests are the hotelier’s ultimate goal, provision of wireless access can be mutually beneficial. Guest WiFi and location analytics solutions, such as Purple WiFi and Aruba ClearPass, hand an unprecedented level of useful and actionable data to organisations and businesses that wish to get a return on their WiFi investment.

Leveraging guest analytics in this way can reveal a great deal about WiFi users…even those on a ‘workation’.

From repeat customer recognition to usage and performance data, WiFi analytics, as opposed to our burgeoning demands and usage, are driving better hotel WiFi.

A new set of Hotel WiFi standards

Monetising guest WiFi is music to the ears of the hospitality sector. As guest expectations rise, so inevitably does the associated cost of better guest networks. However, the opportunity to learn more about their customers, to build ever-better marketing strategies, and to apply a direct return on the technology is softening the proverbial blow.

What might we expect from a modern hotel network?

Coverage: Hotels providing wireless connectivity for guests, which is limited to front-of-house or other public areas can be frustrating. Modern hotel wireless is usually inclusive of every room, allowing users to roam seamlessly from pool to room, to bar or anywhere else on the site.

Capacity: A common stumbling block, network capacity can be the Achilles Heel of hotel Wi-Fi. I’m sure we’ve all been left frustrated after picking up a strong Wi-Fi signal but falling short of actually opening a web-page. The key here is to be mindful of a number of factors:

  • How many clients will be connecting at peak times
  • What is the ‘type’ or capability of each client
  • The applications they will using (video streaming can be a killer)
  • How many of these clients will be roaming (using mobile devices, in other words)

Security: Hotel WiFi security should be a primary concern. Not only must the network be safe for guests but hoteliers will want to separate guest traffic from their own business-sensitive data.

Complexity doesn’t have to be complex

Of course, the information above is a simple overview, but the fact is that customer expectations and technology advancements are leading hotels, holiday parks and others in the hospitality sector to invest heavily in their wireless networks.

For some, the complexity of guest Wi-Fi, monetisation and analytics-based marketing may be a daunting proposition but it’s less taxing than it may appear – Ensign can guide you through each step with a minimum of hassle…why not have a chat with our team of experts?

What Next?

If you are planning to deploy an enterprise-grade wireless network or are experiencing problems with a existing setup, please feel free to contact Ensign Communications for a chat with our technical team.