What hotels need to know to best support remote workers
As hotels battle COVID-19’s unprecedented drop-off in business, the industry is turning to the new “work from hotel” market.
Big names including Hilton, Accor, and Novotel have already opened their rooms and amenities to support new legions of remote workers. However, turning this opportunity into a long-term revenue stream requires a high-performance WiFi network that can consistently meet these guests’ higher-than-usual needs – anything less hurts their productivity and diminishes your return business.
You’re selling connectivity-as-a-service
Whether remote workers are seeking refuge from noisy roommates, or spotty internet, the core service you’re providing is reliable WiFi.
This has always been a “nice to have” feature when selling traditional accommodation, but remote workers differ on two accounts.
First, they have more devices, including personal and business laptops and mobile devices as well as tablets. Second, they demand higher bandwidth for data-intense applications like teleconferencing, media streaming, and file sharing. Many also protect their data by using VPNs, adding further strain on your network.
What this means for your business
The work and expense needed to get a hotel’s wireless network up to standard will depend on what it’s starting with, but there are three best practices everyone can benefit from.
First, evaluate your access points and where they are. Using access points (APs) with enough oomph is paramount. The good news is that, in 2021, we now have access to products featuring the latest wireless standard, WiFi 6, which can deliver multi-gigabit speeds simultaneously to multiple devices. Equally important is placing each WiFi 6 AP in a location that makes optimal use of its signal strength. In broad strokes, this means installing them directly in hotel rooms rather than in hallways; this will reduce co-channel interference caused by overly close APs and contention domains for a single channel shared by multiple devices. In-room deployment improves data transfer rates and ensures your remote-working guests remain productive and happy.
Second, consider whether your locale’s broadband is up to the job. Unfortunately, there are still large swathes of the world – even in highly developed areas – where fixed-line cable broadband doesn’t offer true broadband speeds. In other “notspot” locations, fixed-line broadband simply isn’t available. For establishments in these areas, a cellular network is a practical alternative. And this need not be a second-rate substitute – in fact, LTE routers like this one are highly effective and provide enough power and bandwidth to support everyday business and high numbers of WiFi connections.
Third, decide how you will ensure 24/7 network visibility and control. Learn when and where your establishment’s bandwidth demands peak, and understand that this ebb and flow will grow more difficult to manage with increased daytime usage. Thankfully, controlling it via a cloud-based management platform means you can boost access in the areas it’s needed most. This lets staff balance supply and demand with a few taps of a screen in real time, without the expensive overhead of deploying a large solution covering every corner of the hotel. Furthermore, cloud management platforms like Nebula enable hotels to identify high-demand areas and fulfill demand with lower-cost entry-point products that deliver enterprise standard WiFi. A cloud-based solution also means staff won’t need to physically inspect guest rooms’ APs – a huge asset given the ongoing social distancing restrictions.
A final reminder
Remember, you’re making an investment here, so do extra homework so you can spend intelligently. Whether you need to add a few APs to your existing network or do a complete overhaul, concern yourself with four factors: cost-effectiveness, future-proofing, scalability, and flexibility.
A solution that can be easily scaled up and down will make life a whole lot easier when demand starts to peak. And, rather than making piecemeal upgrades as problems arise, planning for future demand puts hoteliers in good stead to cope with the peaks and troughs of today and prepare for the more demanding applications of tomorrow – even post-pandemic.