6 tips to make the most of your guest WIFI
WIFI is a technology that is already more than 30 years old, and it is still the method of choice when it comes to HSIA, uncomplicated and powerful Internet access. However, what looks so simple at home is much more complex in the case of a public hotspot and involves a considerable amount of effort.
In return, however, the guest WIFI offers opportunities like no other medium (spoiler: tip #6 is perhaps the most important of all).
Is there a more direct digital customer touchpoint than the user on site, smartphone in hand, eyes fixed on the login page? Of course, the rest of the customer experience should also be coherent and meet the expectation, and that has a lot to do with a professional approach.
Read our 6 tips carefully. You’ll see that they are easy to implement and have great potential to significantly improve your guest WIFI.
#1 – A case for professionals
Would you think of planning a complex building without an architect? Probably not. Maybe you can still order a single-family house from a catalog, but even then you need at least a master builder to carry it out.
The situation is similar with WIFI. It is a radio technology and therefore a complex matter that is difficult for non-experts to understand. It’s not only about buying enough access points and a series of repeaters.
Before you spend money on hardware, a professional will first analyze the situation for the necessary coverage. This will take into account local conditions such as building characteristics, but also where how many connections with what data rates are expected, and so on. With his expertise, a professional will design the best possible guest network for you, saving you money and a lot of hassle or bad reviews from dissatisfied guests.
#Tip 1: Before you provide your property, school, hotel, retirement or nursing home with WIFI, take your time and let professionals do the work. Since it is a significant investment in most cases, this step should definitely be taken in advance.
#2 – Methodical approach
If you haven’t yet taken the time to consider what exactly you want to achieve with your WIFI offering, a professional will now insist and ask you about it. Every hour you invest in a concept for your WIFI will pay for itself many times over.
The main key points are:
- Who uses the WIFI? Booked guests, walk-ins, employees, day visitors, etc.?
It depends on whether or how exactly it is checked who these guests are, and also which use policies should apply to them: Authentication, unrestricted access, web filtering, agreement to terms, payment, etc.
How many guests will be online at the same time? On arrival days, at events, during business hours,… The performance of the infrastructure must be set up to cover this maximum. In the same context, the expectations of guests entering the network must also be taken into account. The infrastructure and uplink must match the expected data rates. Will e-mail and social media be enough, can a learning platform be reached, or do streaming services have to run? Professional software tools such as IACBOX make it possible to manage expectations, such as via basic and premium tickets, free or paid, etc.
- How should the company interact with users? Branding on the login page, content made available to all, redirection to surveys / offers, etc.
Tip #2: Take the time for a well thought-out concept. It’s always worth it: optimization of functionality, maximum benefit for the operator, improved guest satisfaction, and a great communication and marketing tool.
#3 – Stay independent
Depending on the scope of the WIFI project, a comprehensive system architecture with servers, multiple access points and switches may be required. To ensure that this investment is also sustainable, it should be checked:
- What happens in the event of infrastructure changes: Expansion and extension, new outdoor area, etc.?
- Is the infrastructure expandable, can different brands / models be combined without loss of functionality?
- Can the WIFI software for managing guest access continue to be used in the event of a brand change, or can it be expanded if the number of users increases, and can it be integrated with other software tools such as CRM, PMS or user data backends? Whenever possible, it is better to rely on a vendor-independent solution for both individual hardware components and the software gateway.
#Tip 3: Rule out a possible vendor lock-in right from the start. This will save time, money and nerves. Keep in mind that your software investment will not only keep you flexible for different hardware systems, but also keep your trained personnel competent in the long term.
#4 – Imagine: John Lennon’s WIFI
You know how it is: When searching for the available WIFI at a city hotel, your smartphone shows you a selection from “Hilton 1” to “Hilton 5”, and often also those of the Novotel next door. It comes in handy in such situations when you have been told in advance what the guest network is called, or – even better – you can already tell from the name which one will give you access: “Hilton 5th floor guest WiFi”.
The network name, also called SSID (Service Set Identifier), therefore plays an important part. For the end user, be it a hotel guest or a museum visitor, the WIFI designation should be unique and clearly identifiable. Some devices and/or software, such as the IACBOX, also support multiple SSIDs so that you can offer different virtual local area networks (VLANs).
After all, the purpose of the WIFI is not always to provide access to the entire Internet. It can also be for specific areas (learning platforms, patient information, online ordering or reservation system, etc.). This should also be recognizable to the guest or user at first glance: “For online reservation” or “Patient portal login” would be examples of this.
How do you think John Lennon would have handled it if there had already been WIFI back then? “Backstage VIP Access” would have said it all on tour, or “Abbey Road Fanpage” in the studio. In the London residence maybe “Yoko only”? Who knows.
#Tip 4: Let names do the talking and call your WIFI SSID so that it is easy to recognize for the respective target group. Follow the three golden rules for the perfect SSID. Your professional will help you, but the meaningful naming should come from you.
#5 – Manage the available bandwidth
Even in the age of data flat rates, not all that glitters is gold. Internet service providers like to advertise with superlatives, which are rarely met in the daily reality.
When providing WIFI Internet access, it is particularly important to divide up the available bandwidth in such a way that every guest gets as much of it as possible so that their expectations are met. It is obvious that streaming services consume more of it than simply checking e-mails. So it plays a decisive role how many and which connections are to be expected in your guest network at the same time. A professional will also help you here with his assessments
And as soon as it is clear that limited resources need to be allocated, a professional WIFI gateway helps you to apply different user policies. A low-cost guest may not be allowed to use as much as a premium guest, and perhaps you don’t want data-intensive software updates to run over your network? That’s where the settings options of intelligent captive portals like IACBOX can help.
#Tip 5: Manage bandwidth, especially when usage is high. This is how you create the conditions for satisfied WIFI users.
#6 – Use your guest WIFI as a customer touchpoint
And now for perhaps the most important tip of all: Use the potential of your guest WIFI! Attention is a scarce and valuable commodity in our information-overloaded times. Where else do you have a guarantee of interaction when addressing a customer?
No matter what the WIFI login page looks like, every guest stops there briefly to look at what needs to be done: click a button, enter access data…. At this moment, you have his full attention, ready for action. Depending on the situation, he will also value information and interact with it, provided it offers him added value.
The guest in the hotel may find regional events interesting, would also download an app if it brings him advantages when booking wellness services. The customer in the store is interested in the latest offers, the patient in the outpatient clinic in his appointments, expected waiting time, etc.
But how do you offer this added value without being overly busy with time-consuming content editing and maintaining media content?
A flexible captive portal like the IACBOX works by interfacing with systems that not only provide content and messaging services for up-selling or cross-selling, for customer retention or for rating management, but also provide various analytics and fully exploit the potential of the WIFI as a marketing tool.
Three golden rules for the perfect SSID
1. the SSID should be max. 32 characters long. Minimum is none.
2. the SSID should not start or end with a space.
3. avoid special characters as far as possible.
>> Popular in Italy, and soon available in English language for other markets. Thanks to the new integration with Spotty Wifi, both solutions combined play to their strengths: IACBOX takes care of the moment of attention, Spotty Wifi to make the most of it – with multiple communication and analysis tools, automated campaigns, rating management and much more. Read more about it here.
>> The multichannel platform of the South Tyrolean marketing specialists offers an information system that delights guests and – far beyond the country’s borders – convinces leading hoteliers. Again, the collaboration with IACBOX bundles both systems into a perfect all-in-one solution for an inspiring user experience with the decisive added value for guest and operator alike. Learn more? Continue browsing here.