Have you ever stayed in a hotel and the Wi-Fi wasn't great? I'll bet the answer is an unqualified yes.
I've traveled quite a lot for work, which has given me plenty of opportunity to sample the delights of hotel Wi-Fi. It can be a bit of an inconvenience when you're travelling and you can't access your email - when youto work and have some urgent emails or remote work to do it can be a real problem.
The Average Hotel Wi-Fi Experience
My experience has been that it's pretty patchy and drops out a lot. And often you're paying a pretty high premium to use the hotel Wi-Fi, adding to the irritation.
If you're paying a premium for the service, surely they should invest in the best equipment and configuration.
Hotel Wi-Fi could delight and really make to want to stay at that hotel again - but why does it so often miss the spot?
Reasons Hotel Wi-Fi is Poor
I think from what I've observed, there are a number of reasons that Hotel Wi-Fi doesn't perform that well:
- Poor Design: Using proper RF predictive surveys onsite surveys ensures that the coverage is even and predictable service
- Complex Sign up: You just want it to be easy to sign up once you're in your room.. and sometimes it most definitely isn't!
If these are the issues and the common reasons that hotels don't upgrade their Wi-Fi, what are the solutions? Let's take a look.
How to Improve Hotel Wi-Fi
To overcome the coverage issues, one hotel I stayed at had installed a home brand AP in each room. It's one strategy to ensure coverage, but has the drawbacks of:
There's no easy way around providing good Wi-Fi coverage - you just have to have enough APs, and coverage has to be designed for the end devices you want to support.
The exact number of course is down to the design - many hotels may well have bought from the cheapest vendor, using the minimum number of APs - it's a short sighted approach though, as the coverage is poor and the customers are frustrated by the experience.
Our Top 8 Secrets to Great Wi-Fi eBook might be of interest here - we cover a bunch of the common Wi-Fi issues and mistakes in there. Wi-Fi design is complex - getting RF right, as well an ensuring the relevant services you want to deploy all work as you hope they will is not an easy task.
If you're interested in a bit more reading around the typical things that affect Wi-Fi, have a read of the 30 Technical Wi-Fi Thoughts, but George Stefanick.
Hotel Wi-Fi: Multi service Network
If done properly, you can use the same network for multiple services - if the hotel has paid for the deployment of all those APs, you can get some added value from them.
Staff can use Wi-Fi phones for both communication and paging. How about some location tracking to know where the cleaning or security staff are located, or to be able to track an asset. Ability to use task management software, coupled with knowing the location of key assets has a lot of opportunity to improve hotel operations.
Premium Hotel Wi-Fi
Premium hotel Wi-Fi can mean a few different things, but typically means you'll get higher download speeds, protected with Quality of Service to ensure the experience is a good one.
More modern hotels have Wi-Fi features that let you connect and stream your own Netflix or music - these are the hotels that are a 'home from home' and are really excelling in keeping their customers happy and loyal.
There's a lot that can be value added, once the network is working correctly - however the base lesson is to use enough APs. Hotels have seen that customers vote with their feet, choosing a hotel with Wi-Fi above those without - the next upgrade hotels can offer is consistent Wi-Fi that works properly, with a good level of service for streaming.