Mr. Langston

Group Meetings

Up Grade Your Meetings with Wi-Fi

By Andy Langston, North America Enterprise Account Manager, Aptilo Networks

Like a walking billboard, Wi-Fi reaches every one of your guests on their smartphone, laptop and any number of Wi-Fi-enabled devices.

Use it to engage your meetings guests to build brand recognition for your hotel, and also as a powerful marketing vehicle for your business customers who will be clamoring to secure your meeting space for their next event.

Wi-Fi is a Must Have

By now, every hotel knows that offering a guest Wi-Fi service is a must-have. This is especially true for business travelers who depend on available internet to stay connected for work. How many people have chosen their destination hotel based on the availability of Wi-Fi? I know I have. Remember the days of that blue cord sticking out of the wall for internet access? That was always the first "amenity" I looked for when checking into a room.

Today, wired internet simply isn't good enough. Guests are on-the-go. They don't want to be tethered to their room to check email and generally be accessible. This is good for hotels, too, as there is a financial benefit to keeping guests on-site. For example, a guest who can bring her laptop to the hotel restaurant will spend money in that restaurant. Otherwise, she may simply leave the hotel for her favorite cafe down the street that's become her go-to because of their free Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi needs to be fast and reliable, what is known as "carrier-class." What this means is that your Wi-Fi can't be that spotty coffeeshop Wi-Fi we all used to rely on a decade ago. People expect their Wi-Fi experience at a hotel to match, or even exceed, that which they enjoy at home. If the Wi-Fi at your hotel is slow and unreliable, your guests will know. And they'll let others know, too. You don't want that. Wi-Fi must be on par with what is offered by the Tier 1 carriers such as AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon.

This point has become crucial since the widespread adoption of Wi-Fi calling. International travelers depend on Wi-Fi for talking to their co-workers and family when they journey overseas. Wi-Fi for voice calls solves the problems of indoor locations with weak cellular coverage. This is especially true for meetings spaces where cellular signals can be hard to find when, for example, you're lost somewhere among hundreds of booths on the floor of a sprawling trade show and trying to meet up with a new customer prospect.

Engaging Guests with Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi can engage guests with a personalized experience that offers them the information they want and need. It can also serve as a powerful marketing vehicle for your business customers, creating even more value.

For instance, hotels can facilitate individual recognition of each group meeting with the group's own branded captive portal that welcomes and thanks attendees for coming. When a guest connects to the Wi-Fi, they can be greeted by a screen with your business customer's logo, information about the event, and even with a special offer for free or higher-tiered Wi-Fi service as a perk for attending. Guaranteeing specific levels of Wi-Fi quality of service can be an added element making sure the attendees' experience at that hotel is remarkable.

The hotel can give the group their choice of Wi-Fi login methods based on your customers' needs:

  • The group may want to charge attendees for Wi-Fi via credit card
  • The group may want everyone to have a simple click-to-connect experience
  • The group may want access controlled by vouchers or event-specific passwords

The group may also want to collect social media demographics from the attendees in exchange for Wi-Fi access. Alternatively, email addresses may be collected in return for Wi-Fi to add to the hotel's own targeted marketing programs. That way, you can thank the guest for coming to your hotel, and present a specific offer such as a 50% discount toward three nights at the new luxury vacation resort that you want to promote. Equally as important, the meeting group can be offered the email list which can be added to their own marketing CRM systems as an extra amenity.

As a hotelier, you can also check which attendees are staying with you from your hotel PMS. The hotel then has the opportunity to thank each guest for choosing to stay at their hotel during the conference. Being able to offer your customers flexibility and choices creates a tailored experience that will make you stand out from the pack. Having a carrier-grade system to guarantee quality of service ensures that your promises to your customers are exceeded.

Micro-Surveys

Why not send a simple micro-survey during the event or when an attendee goes to their room at night to get immediate feedback from your guests while you still have time to do something about it? This gives your hotel the chance to individualize the guest's experience and to let the hotel manager provide corrective measures during the event, and more importantly before the guest can post a bad review on social media.

Micro-surveys will also benefit your business customers. At the end of the first day of the show, a survey can be sent to only those guests who attended, say, a cocktail event to thank them and get their feedback. This targeted marketing can provide your customers specific information that could be quite valuable to them, and gives you the chance to address any issues.

Location, Location, Location

Wi-Fi is now a dynamic amenity that can present guests with new information based on their specific location in the hotel. As meetings guests approach the exhibit hall, they can receive an SMS directing them to an impromptu welcome event. Is there a change in speaker, or an unplanned press conference happening in 10 minutes? Have the Wi-Fi management platform send guests a text to their cell phones alerting them to these must-attend happenings.

The hotel or event app can have a map of the property showing where you are based on access point locationing. The app can guide guests around the property. Better than telling me which exhibit hall I need to be in is showing me where it is on a map and the fastest way to get there. There is always confusion in large conference expo centers for guests trying to get to the right place at the right time.

Targeted SMS Messaging

Targeted Wi-Fi messages can also monetize last-minute opportunities. For example, if there are still seats available for a concert or show that night, hotels can advertise a same-day discount to try to fill those seats. The hotel makes more money, your business customers appreciate the support, and the guest not only gets tickets to that exclusive event, but feels like a VIP - which builds loyalty to your brand.

Also, advertise other services or promotions within the hotel to guide attendees to events or areas of the facility you want to showcase. Display a message to an attendee such as, "While you are attending the conference, please also enjoy complimentary Wi-Fi in our coffee shop and new restaurant located in the mezzanine." Your Wi-Fi management system can broadcast the event's SSID in other specific areas of the property to let your guests roam and explore more of your hotel.

Using Apps

Most events today have smartphone apps built for the specific event. Why not allow the app to preconfigure the attendee's device to automatically connect to the Wi-Fi? Guests can enjoy a frictionless Wi-Fi experience with the added security of not connecting to an open SSID.

The hotel brand's loyalty app can also load the Hotspot 2.0 Wi-Fi profile onto your customers' smartphones. That way, each time a guest enters any of the brand's hotel properties, they will have secure, immediate access to Wi-Fi just like they do at their own home. Every time a guest enters a property, the Wi-Fi platform can send a welcome message to Mr. Smith and thank him for being loyal and using the hotel's app.

Simplifying Wi-Fi Administration for Hotels

While changes to the Wi-Fi can be made easily on-the-fly, it can also be configured in advance. As an example, your group meeting customer may want to highlight the keynote address on the Wi-Fi portal on the first day of the show, then change the portal to reflect afternoon conferences at 1pm, and then evening activities at 5. The platform can easily be scheduled in advance to change the portal to reflect these needs, at specific times, and even to specific people (only your attendees). This guarantees no mishaps, gives hotel staff more time to focus on the event itself, and more importantly gets valuable information to guests at the right place and the right time.

For the hotel conference staff, having a single pane of glass from which to change the Wi-Fi experience in each individual conference room or exhibit hall without having to contact hotel IT staff streamlines the process in ways that haven't been done in the past. Some Wi-Fi service management platforms offer an easy-to-use GUI to let non-technical staff easily make changes to the Wi-Fi service.

Since we all know Wi-Fi is a must for hotels, it should be taken to the next level beyond just giving your customers access to the internet. Wi-Fi can offer a personalized touch that will keep groups and guests returning to your hotel for all their future events and travels. An advanced carrier-class Wi-Fi service is marketing gold for your business customers that will make your property stand out among the competition.

Andy Langston, North America Enterprise’s Account Manager works across North America to bring Aptilo’s extensive experience in Wi-Fi service management to enterprise customers. As evidenced by his many years of work in the engineering field, Mr. Langston has always shown a passion for understanding technologies and for helping companies find innovative solutions to their specific needs. He has been in the wireless networking industry for more than 10 years, working for multinational corporations in account management and business development. Mr. Langston holds a degree in mechanical engineering from Auburn University. He also earned an MBA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Mr. Langston can be contacted at 972-767-6901 or andy.langston@aptilo.com Please visit http://www.aptilo.com for more information. Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:
Coming Up In The October Online Hotel Business Review




{300x250.media}
Feature Focus
Revenue Management: Technology and Big Data
Like most businesses, hotels are relying on technology and data to drive almost every area of their operations, but perhaps this is especially true for hotel Revenue Managers. There has been an explosion of technology tools which generate a mountain of data – all in an effort to generate profitable pricing strategies. It falls to Revenue Managers to determine which tools best support their operations and then to integrate them efficiently into their existing systems. Customer Relationship Management, Enterprise Resource Planning, and Online Reputation Management software are basic tools; others include channel managers, benchmark reports, rate shopping tools and review systems, to name a few. The benefits of technology tools which automate large segments of a Revenue Manager’s business are enormous. Freed from the time-consuming process of manual data entry, and having more accurate data available, allows Revenue Managers to focus on analysis, strategies and longer-term decision-making. Still, for most hotels, the amount of data that these tools generate can be overwhelming and so another challenge is to figure out how to effectively utilize it. Not surprisingly, there are some new tech tools that can help to do exactly that. There are cloud-based analytics tools that provide a comprehensive overview of hotel data on powerful, intuitive dashboards. The goal is to generate a clear picture, at any moment in time, of where your hotel is at in terms of the essentials – from benchmarking to pricing to performance – bringing all the disparate streams of data into one collated dashboard. Another goal is to eliminate any data discrepancies between finance systems, PMS, CRM and forecasting systems. The October issue of the Hotel Business Review will address all these important developments and document how some leading hotels are executing their revenue management strategies.