WiFi In Hospitality – Improving Security & User Experience

How hospitality can improve the Guest WiFi user experience and secure their networks

This is a guest by Will Evans, Director at WiFi consultancy specialist Performance Networks.

As an alternative to traditional shared captive portals, I’m predicting that venues with longer stays or guests/tenants that need to connect smart devices, particularly hotels and student accommodation, will pivot to systems that provide separate WiFi passwords for each user or room. 

In simple terms, these recommended changes would provide each guest user with a private password that they could use to easily log into WiFi, a very similar experience to a home WiFi network.

How it works?

Let’s say you go into a hotel with your partner. Rather than both trying to log into WiFi via a captive portal, a location where you would enter your email address and personal details, you would both simply share a WiFi key (or password) instead. This can even be emailed to you before arrival.

That allows you to see each other’s devices on the network just like you would at home and makes it extremely simple to connect to other devices, such as game consoles or digital TVs.

It’s a much more user-friendly experience that gives customers a ‘home away from home’ WiFi experience. 

Its importance can’t be underestimated. At the end of 2020, a report showed that 60% of millennials say that free WiFi is their number one perk. Also, 96% of consumers said they preferred establishments that offered free WiFi over not.

The ability to set up these private networks is great news for businesses, too. When a staff member goes into the office and needs to get on the WiFi, instead of going onto a shared network with all of their colleagues, they can get a password sent to them prior to their arrival, and then they can quickly and easily log in to their own personal and secure WiFi connection sectioned away from anything or anybody on the network. 

Why it’s worth it?

In simple terms, it’s more secure and gives clients a better experience should they be at a venue for an extended stay or need to connect devices like smart TVs or game consoles. 

For hotels, bars, restaurants, venues, tradeshows and places of education, this form of improved guest WiFi makes the experience more personalised for the user but also gives you as a business owner extra security.

It’s not good security practice to have a WiFi password that never changes; people who re-visit are automatically connected to your network and, of course, your neighbours might even be connecting to it. This way, you go into a venue, enter your WiFi password and you’re instantly on the network.

That password will then expire whenever the predefined session is over – whether that’s in an hour, a week, or a year! This flexibility makes this system perfect for a whole range of venues, from hotels to multiple occupancies.

How do the passwords work?

In a bid to get ready for these forms of WiFi taking over in the future, Performance Networks is building a tool to manage personal password distribution, which would be used as a guest management portal.

In terms of passwords, you could upload a list of users, integrate to other booking or CRM (Customer Relationship Management) systems or generate passwords on the fly and just before they arrive on-site the system would automatically fire out unique WiFi passwords so they can connect instantly to the internet on arrival.

Having a system which can help manage and distribute your passwords prior to somebody arriving is crucial. As with all security measures, there’s always added complexity – but managing this is essential for this new system’s success. 

You need to ease admin and hardship for people, so having a system where you can manage users very easily is going to be key in helping with that.

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