Hotel WiFi Networks Can Make or Break the Guest Experience

Earlier this year J.D. Power and Associates released its annual Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study which painted a not so rosy picture for the hotel/hospitality industry. Guest satisfaction, measured against a 1,000 point scale, scored 757, or 7 points lower than the 2011 survey. Overall business was up, showing a modest recovery from the economic collapse but it appears that people are spending more and enjoying it less.

In fact, discounted rates are believed to have skewed the survey results with favorable scores regarding cost camouflaging the real level of dissatisfaction with the total guest experience. The downward trend in guest satisfaction is particularly disturbing for properties that fall into the highly competitive categories of luxury, upper upscale and upscale. The market for these premium properties is limited, particularly in these tight economic times, lending even more importance to maintaining and growing brand loyalty and repeat business.

Hotel Wireless Networks Strike a Nerve

Over half of all hotel guests connect to the Internet during their stay, and of that group 88% connect using hotel WiFi. This represents a significant increase in connected guests compared to the 20% using the Internet in 2006. Only 11% of the guests were charged by the hotel for access, but those 11% had a significant impact on average costs and fees satisfaction scoring 688, or 76 index points lower than those that were not charged a fee, or the fee was part of the room rate. Hotels that charge for access are perceived to be taking advantage of the guest. Properties that are charging for WiFi may want to reconsider the practice of charging for Internet access as a separate line item on the guest’s bill.

Cost was one concern, but a lack of quality and reliability of the WiFi network also contributed to lower scores. Today’s guests have an expectation that free, fast and reliable WiFi should be available at their hotel just as it is at coffee shops, bookstores, airports and even race tracks.

Wireless Applications that Improve the Guest Experience

While providing a solid WiFi network for guests is a basic element of a good guest experience, a fast, secure wireless network can also enhance the guest’s convenience and provide hotel management with real-time customer feedback.

With the explosion of smart phones and other mobile devices, a wireless network can allow the hotel to communicate with the guest wherever they are on the property. This communication could take the form of a virtual concierge that can provide maps to local attractions, dinner reservations, the local weather or even tickets for local events. The guest no longer needs to make a trip to the lobby to get the advice and service they need. Another example is room service.” With a smart phone’s locator device a guest can place an order from the pool or anywhere else and be found regardless where they are on the property.

With WiFi, a hotel can throw away the paper surveys” and replace them with QR codes which will provide real time feedback regarding customer opinions. QR codes can be placed not only in the rooms, but the fitness center, business center or virtually any other service area. Many survey programs are designed to immediately notify customer service when negative comments are received giving hotel staff an opportunity to timely address guest concerns.

Hotel WiFi is an integral part of a guest’s experience. If designed and installed correctly, it can be a tremendous asset in building guest satisfaction and brand loyalty. Conversely, if the network has limited coverage and/or slow speeds it becomes a liability, and detracts from all the other amenities and services that a property has to offer.

Ensuring that a property has a world-class wireless network is the hallmark of Deep Blue Communications, a professional design, installation and monitoring company recognized for its cutting-edge technology and superior service.

Deep Blue Communications has partnered with Ruckus Wireless and their industry changing antenna technology, BeamFlex, and now offers a turn-key solution that includes designing, installing, maintaining, monitoring and servicing wireless networks for virtually any application. Superior infrastructure, amazing load-balancing capabilities and a commitment to a comprehensive understanding of a client’s business is what has earned them preferred vendor status for major hospitality brands.

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Deep Blue Communications, LLC