I think we all know that the answer to this question is yes. Guest engagement has always been Important in hospitality and something that many hotels rightly put a lot of effort into. However, in the post-lockdown world, guest engagement has become even more critical than ever. After all, it’s far easier to persuade a guest to come back than it is to attract them in the first place, and social distancing and the other impacts of Covid-19 are only making it more challenging.
A modern-day essential
Correctly utilising your Guest WiFi to improve customer interactions is one answer. Nowadays, WiFi connectivity is essential for hotel guests and something that people have simply come to expect. Consider Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs; when he first came up with the theory in the 1940s, he was hardly thinking about digital connectivity, but broadband and WiFi are basic necessities for modern customers. In fact, we believe that for hotel guests, good WiFi is more important than a free breakfast.
This brings us to our next point; should you make your WiFi free for guests to use? Yes, you should, and you will find that it can pay for itself. A robust, reliable WiFi system will help keep your customers happy, improve the customer journey and improve the reputation of your business.
Another point to consider is that 4 and 5G signals can be limited inside buildings, especially in historical buildings. If you don’t provide adequate WiFi for your guests, and they can’t connect to the internet any other way, this will severely impact their enjoyment and make them much less likely to patronise your business again.
Making the most of your hotel WiFi
So, you’ve decided that providing decent WiFi to your guests is a good idea. We agree! So, how do you utilise it to maximise engagement with guests and convert them from customers into advocates for your business?
Consider using a cloud-based guest WiFi set-up. This will give you the ability to create and maintain engagement before and after a customer’s visit, and the cost can be as little as pennies per room per night. By doing this, you can make your WiFi system self-funding by generating the maximum value from it, and it allows you to make the most of your existing or new WiFi and other IT infrastructure.
By engaging with your customers while they are onsite, you can keep the conversation going once they’ve gone. Attracting new customers is much harder and costs five times as much as retaining existing customers. By engaging them in this way, you are far more likely to welcome them back and see them becoming brand ambassadors to their family and friends.
A vital thing to consider when setting up your guest WiFi system is security. Your WiFi needs to be secure and reliable. Whilst there is legislation that requires businesses to account for who is using their internet access, it’s better to tick this box in a way that works to the business owners’ advantage. Professionally installed WiFi networks should provide multiple levels of security so that only your legitimate ‘customers’ benefit from it. This approach also guarantees security for other devices (e.g. credit card terminals, POS, CCTV and so on) in an industry standard manner. All data should be captured and stored securely above and beyond GDPR guidelines.
With foreign travel severely restricted, the number of people taking a “staycation” has snowballed. This is an excellent opportunity for hotels to build relationships with customers they otherwise wouldn’t see. However, many domestic visitors arrive via online travel agents (OTAs) such as Booking.com. This means that you don’t have access to the customer’s full contact details, making it impossible to stay in touch directly. This is where your hotel WiFi comes in; you can use it to capture their data, keep in touch, build a better relationship and attract them back later on. If you do this using a seamless marketing workflow, this would save you time and mean not having to pay the 19% booking fee!
Improving the guest experience while making staff’s lives easier
Long-term relationship building isn’t the only reason to capture customer data; you can also use it to improve the customer experience while they are staying with you. It’s also not just about capturing data but how you capture it in a way that helps improve the customer experience. By capturing their demographic data and automatically detecting the language they use, you can more effectively target your messaging and build that genuine relationship.
At the same time, you should be aware of the negative connotations of data capture. With this in mind, consider using a One WiFi login strategy. This stores their data, and whether they return within a day or a year, they will be automatically logged-into the network seamlessly.
We’ve discussed how a robust and reliable WiFi system can help improve your customers’ experience, but it can also make life easier for your staff. If your customers are connected, they are more likely to stay in their rooms while they are onsite. This will save your staff time since they don’t have to directly interact with your guests and don’t have to spend as much time ensuring that customers adhere to social distancing regulations. As a result, it helps create a more Covid-safe environment for everybody.
Other things to think about
The pandemic has seen the end of paper brochures and pens to help maintain hygiene, so consider having a QR code in your rooms with a direct link to your hotel’s information, whether they are on your WiFi or not. You can also integrate this with third-party systems such as contactless room service and integrated marketing such as an SMS message that the guest’s taxi has arrived to further improve the customer experience.
Also, think about ways to reduce the barriers to customers logging on to your cloud-based WiFi. Avoid systems that require the customer to download an app, as this can be a significant barrier. Also, make sure not to use a system that gives most of the internet bandwidth to the first people to log in. Whether your hotel is packed to the brim or only at 50% occupancy , all your guests should receive exactly the same consistent and excellent experience.
Lastly, consider what your customers will say about you once they’ve gone home. You can use your WiFi to facilitate guest Review Capture or guest feedback and even customise it to better suit your business. When designing your review capture software, always bear in mind the golden question, as heard on Channel 4’s ‘Four in a Bed’. “Would you stay again?”. You need to ensure that every aspect of your business drives a customer to answer ‘Yes’, and your WiFi is a vital tool in ensuring just that. To help gauge your customers’ experience, make use of a system such as Net Promoter. This provides you with a Net Promoter Score (NPS) based on your customers’ feedback, and makes it easier to see where you might need to improve.
WiFi: A powerful but overlooked tool
No matter how big or small your business is or where your hotel is situated, there is a WiFi-based guest engagement solution that is perfect for you. WiFi is an extremely powerful and often-overlooked tool for empowering your guests, creating a better, richer experience for them. It also gives you a wealth of valuable data and insight and enables you to build relationships that transform one-off customers into fervent brand advocates.