Connection Is Key: Solving Issues Surrounding Hotel WiFi

Hotel WiFi

Roadblocks that impact hotel WiFi connectivity are challenging to mitigate. Bill Gustafson, senior enterprise engineer for hospitality for Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company that specializes in networking, weighs in on obstacles that may inhibit a property’s WiFi connectivity and ways to solve those issues.

What makes WiFi challenging for hotels?

Consumers want to continue to live their everyday lives in hotels, and that’s caused challenges in regards to data usage. When WiFi networks were originally built, those that built them weren’t necessarily looking to the future. Now, guest expectation of connectivity is significantly more demanding. Not only are guests using an increasing number of devices, the power of those devices has increased exponentially. Typical usage now includes video streaming and calls, which take up huge amounts of data. In fact, many phone carriers are pushing WiFi calling to help offset carrier signals. Further, as hotels get more into the internet of things (IOT), we need more data integration. IOT devices are coming in on multiple networks, increasing traffic even more. Networks need to be intelligent to handle all of this traffic. So, we’re pivoting as an industry beyond basic internet access. Hotel WiFi is absolutely critical now, and there are more demands on its capabilities than ever.

What can hotels do to combat these challenges?

In the past, hotels have added networks that serve different purposes, which can be costly and complicated. One way to reduce costs and simplify this process is to converge those networks. This is something we do at Aruba by segmenting traffic. When a device comes onto the network, we’re profiling it and automatically putting it on the right segment so that, for example, a contractor or guest laptop can’t connect to the back office. Having multiple roles on one network allows hoteliers to tap their budgets for other programming.

How can hotels optimize network usage?

A well-equipped network can help you anticipate guests’ needs. For example, hotels can grab analytics about how guests are aggregated with the property. The network acts as a sensor. If a bunch of guests show up in the lobby, the network can see the number of front office staff doesn’t match the number of guests in the lobby. More staff can be dispatched to the front desk to match that demand. The network can be the eyes and ears of an operation, which can be part of the guest experience strategy.

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Robin McLaughlin is digital editor of LODGING.