Great connectivity is no longer a ‘nice-to-have’ in the hospitality business, it’s now an essential ingredient for success.
Powerful networks mean customer-pleasing Wi-Fi, speedy mobile checkout, productive employees, rapid data transfers – in fact the list of commercial benefits is almost endless.
It’s no exaggeration to say that hotels, bars and restaurants prepared to take full advantage of secure and scalable networks stand to enjoy a significant advantage over their competitors. Here we look at seven ways your hospitality business can meet its connectivity challenges with secure scalable solutions.
1 – Customers demand Wi-Fi with staying power
Guest Wi-Fi is no longer simply a nice customer freebie. It’s now a key part of the hospitality sector’s customer engagement strategy. The promise of great Wi-Fi is the perfect way to entice your customer to give you their email address and unlock an ongoing relationship.
Wi-Fi welcome pages can also be filled with offers and incentives to keep customers coming back, but underneath all this the strength and security of the Wi-Fi you offer is paramount. Get your on-premises Wi-Fi right and you’ll also increase customer engagement, on-premise dwell time and ultimately spend on premises.
The solution is a robust on-premises Wi-Fi IT backbone that enables you to balance connection bandwidth between staff and customer usage depending on demand. This can mean increasing bandwidth for staff training, for example, or allowing customer devices to stream live feeds from events. Market-leading Wi-Fi solutions can also enable you to engage with your customers via digital signage and social media as well as educating staff on these subjects.
2 – Build strong connections for growth
Any hospitality brand planning fast-growth will need to future-proof their network infrastructure. Balancing current and future needs is not always easy, however, particularly if international expansion is on your radar.
One essential step is to ensure your premises are ‘always on’ and connected 24/7 and this means market-leading management of your MPLS (multi-protocol label switching) high-performance network communications infrastructure. Increased connectivity also means an increased cyber security risk, so protecting your network with a next generation firewall (NGFW) is essential.
With these foundations in place it’s possible to safely incorporate a wide range of applications to your network, including connecting on-premises EPOS systems to your head office, as well as providing Wi-Fi, (or 4G wireless) connectivity to enable your staff to serve customers and guests in the best way possible.
3 – It’s time to call in a modern cloud-based telephony system
Whatever form your hospitality premises take – hotel, restaurant, pub, café or bar – dealing with your customers by phone in a fast and efficient way is still critical.
Modern, cloud-based voice-over-IP (VOIP) telephony systems can provide a single, unified voice network across all your premises, which provides clear benefits for staff productivity and customer service. When customers call your business, for example, a VOIP system can direct them to the right person quickly and efficiently without being redirected manually several times. VOIP solutions are often accompanied by the addition of 3/4G wireless backup, upgrading premises with higher bandwidth connections along with a router hardware refresh and wireless access points.
This system enables staff to contact other departments, including head office, quickly and easily, ensuring customer and staff queries can be answered and keeping the wheels of commerce running smoothly.
4 – Enable expansion in support of your brand
As hospitality businesses expand, either organically or through acquisition, it is essential that they can grow their network capabilities rapidly, while also ensuring they don’t dilute their brand recognition or values. This means that any network expansion or upgrade needs to be carried-out with minimal disruption to the business, while processes remain streamlined and customer-centric.
Mergers and acquisitions often require ambitious roll-out plans with network models being extended across the estate as fast as possible. One example is the need to provide fibre connectivity to support a hotel’s management system. This can be achieved using MPLS to direct data from the existing network to the cloud. This can ensure that all premises are using ADSL broadband, delivering cost savings by streamlining processes and simplifying a company’s data input.
The goal for any expanding hospitality brand should be to upgrade legacy network infrastructure systems and ensure a one-stop-shop approach to network management, while further supporting the brand’s expansion.
5 – Integrate on-premises and online operations
Customers are increasingly seeking seamless interactions with brands, whether they’re on their premises or online. This means that multi-channel brands must have reliable and secure networks to ensure the safe and speedy flow of data between premises and departments, while also enabling customers to browse their offering online – even when they’re on their premises.
A fast and effective MPLS network solution, deployed across your business’s entire estate, should be the cornerstone of any integration project, followed by a secure and effective on-premises Wi-Fi network enabling customers to browse your website or app as well as using third party online resources to validate their purchasing decisions.
A managed network can remove the burden of ensuring connectivity away from your in-house team, speeding up problem resolution, boosting network connectivity and giving your team an opportunity to focus on innovation instead.
6 – Ensure the visibility of your network’s performance
Modern commerce can take place at a punishing pace, and that means hospitality businesses need to understand and control their network traffic better than ever before. Many companies are adopting active network monitoring to ensure stock and resources are correctly allocated and it enables brands to take remedial action quickly when problems occur.
Active network monitoring involves real-time testing, performed by software engineers or hardware sensors, on the network infrastructure, to verify that the network is performing as required. Active tests report real-time data such as end-to-end reachability, packet loss, jitter, bandwidth, and HTTP response time.
One of the most common tests run by active network monitoring tools is the ping command, which verifies round-trip time to remote host as well as packet loss. Such rigorous testing is essential if you don’t want critical customer-facing systems to fail during peak trading or any other time.
7 – Supercharge head-office-to-branch communications
Ensuring reliable and integrated communications between a brand’s branches and head office is essential to the success of any hospitality business. It allows a company to make informed decisions, monitor sales, assess performance in real time and provide superior customer service.
Managed communications can also boost staff productivity, liberating them from admin tasks to spend more time with customers. This can be achieved by connecting branches with Private Access Broadband, while fibre optic links backed up with a SDSL line, can cater for the more data-hungry head office. A fully-managed solution with built-in PCI compliance will ensure service levels and keep confidential customer data secure.