ways to improve hotel guest satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is key for hotels and messages like this are not helping.

Any major hotel owner knows that the key to staying in business and thriving is maintaining a high level of guest satisfaction.

The hospitality industry eats, drinks, and breathes the mantra "the customer is always right". Other industries can get away with this to some extent, restaurateurs can serve one type of cuisine and shun out all those who don’t agree with the taste. Even in the IT industry, where solutions are usually black or white with no gray area, the customer can be wrong. The hospitality industry however, is based on providing guests with generous and accommodating treatment. Seriously, check out the definition:

hos·pi·tal·i·ty - 1. Cordial and generous reception of or disposition toward guests; 2. An instance of cordial and generous treatment of guests.

So how does a hotel owner maintain guest satisfaction? Anyone can buy super soft sheets, provide room service 24/7 or put extra chocolate on the pillow (on a side note, I’ve never found chocolate on my pillow, I demand chocolate!), the real game changer is wireless fidelity, popularly known as WiFi. This shouldn’t be news to anyone; complaints have spread from hotel suggestion boxes to WiFi forums to major online blogs. Everybody from the everyday Joe Shmo, to major players in the technology world have chimed in their opinions. Check out this quote which went viral not too long ago:

"(I) only pay for hotel internet on a single device. I prefer Super 8 Motels where internet is included but my hosts put me in fancy expensive hotels where you pay up to $30 a day for internet"

Steve Wozniak, Co-founder of Apple Computer

Every problem has a solution, so why is it so hard for the hospitality industry to figure this one out? $$$$$. You guessed it, and we get it, bandwidth is expensive, enterprise level access points are expensive, getting all that equipment installed and managed properly is offensively expensive. You see hotels going two routes with WiFi now:

Route 1: Not buying adequate bandwidth, not buying proper equipment, avoiding hiring proper personnel, and just letting the WiFi loose on all the guests. This type of situation gives our network engineers nightmares, it’s like a scary movie: Hotel WiFi 2: I Can’t Get Connected. This situation sucks, what usually happens is one or two users (who are typically located within an optimal distance of the inferior access points) are sucking up all the bandwidth while streaming movies on Netflix. Meanwhile the rest of the hotel guests are watching snails run laps around them as their tweets struggle to post. Have you ever tried tweeting on a 56K connection? It’s terrifying; people would go back to face-to-face interactions if this was the norm.

Route 2: Purchase adequate bandwidth, invest in the proper equipment, hire proper personal and charge an arm and a leg for WiFi because who in the world is going to pay those monthly bills? Ever wonder why some hotels are charging $30 a day for WiFi? Purchasing access points and installation probably costs upwards on 100K in a 300 room hotel. Bandwidth probably costs about $500 a month. Someone has to pay for it, and it’s not going to be the hotel.

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Where is the middle ground? It’s here and it’s called SLICE.

SLICE is a software/hardware solution delivered in the form of a gateway controller. What SLICE does is manage the wireless network, ensuring that it works properly and fairly for everyone. Additionally SLICE can enable the WiFi network to actually generate revenue for the hotel.

Here are top 5 key benefits SLICE can deliver for hotels:

1. Freemium Access

Let’s imagine your hotel charges $15 a day for 24 hours of WiFi on one device. The international businessman staying at your hotel needs WiFi to get his job done, he doesn’t care about the price; he’s going to pay regardless. The family of four at your hotel, staying on a budget vacation can’t fathom paying a cent for WiFi just so their kids can tweet, chat with friends on Facebook and maybe play games on their smart phone. The middle ground is Freemium. Freemium allows your hotel to give away some WiFi for free, and charge for continued or advanced access.

    1. Freemium can be defined by time - WiFi is free for one hour per every guest device, additional access requires payment.
    2. Freemium can be defined by location - WiFi is free in the hotel lobby and gift shop, but in room requires payment.
    3. Freemium can be defined by level of use - WiFi is available for free at a capped speed, enough to send emails or tweet. Connections at higher speeds, required to stream movies or video chat will involve a payment. Alternatively, users can be assigned a data cap; once met, users will be asked to submit payment for continued use.
    4. Freemium can be defined by the level of the guest - Preferred guests or premium members can sign on to the WiFi using their membership number (SLICE integrates with the hotel PMS, I'll get to this) and receive free WiFi, guests that did not purchase a premium membership will have to pay to use the WiFi.
    5. Freemium can be tied to the purchase of hotel items - WiFi requires payment but if a guest purchases a shirt from the gift shop or a drink from the bar, they will receive a code for one hour of free WiFi access.

What Freemium does is take away the bad vibes associated with paid WiFi use. Giving some level of WiFi away for free and charging for continued or advanced use is acceptable in the minds of consumers; just ask Apple how successful Freemium policies work for their App Store.

2. Seamless PMS Integration

SLICE can integrate directly with a hotel’s property management system, creating a smooth relationship between the hotel’s guests and the wireless network. Guests can purchase WiFi access using only their room number and will get billed on the card tied to their account within the hotel’s PMS, talk about simple sign on. Additionally, SLICE can integrate with POS systems and can create a link between the sale of items and WiFi access.

3. Authoritative Control

SLICE allows for authoritative control over the wireless network. Bandwidth is distributed evenly (or as defined) amongst guests, and security is managed proactively, not reactively. Situations with one guest hogging all the available bandwidth by streaming movies are a thing of the past. Proactive security aka automatic threat remediation means users with infected devices or those who are committing malicious activity such as pirating, hacking, spamming or phishing will have their speeds throttled down to assure that they will not be able to use the WiFi for anything other than regular browsing.

4. Advertisement over WiFi

SLICE enables hotels to deliver advertisement space over the WiFi. Hotels always have a few preferred locations they like to push guests to when asked for recommendations. Those locations can now be featured as paid advertisements over the hotel network. Imagine the recurring monthly revenue opportunities from advertisements over WiFi; it could potentially cover the monthly cost of bandwidth and support.

5. Dynamic Portals

SLICE does more than just set up a plain old login page. The portal is fully branded to the hotel and dynamically adjusts to all screen resolutions. Once a user signs in, the real magic begins. The post-sign in page can feature advertisement space (with a 100% impression rate as everyone signing on will see this) or in more advanced cases, the post-sign in page can be turned into a micro-site, accessible only over the hotel network, and can feature unique information about the hotel, coupons for internal retail locations and can even act as a virtual front desk

The evidence is clear; SLICE turns WiFi into an asset for hotels, not a liability. Proven deployments around the US only help to support the cause. More information including case studies and live demos are available. As a hotel owner, you can’t afford not to examine the opportunity SLICE presents.

Learn more about Hotel Wireless Solutions around New York City



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