Historically, guest WiFi was something that was managed at the property level with local information technology or general managers selecting the hardware and service provider to manage the experience. This practice resulted in different experiences at each location within a brand. Today, a cloud-based guest WiFi management platform can help you manage WiFi through an easy web interface at the property level or across all of the properties in your brand portfolio. Pre-built integrations to the leading hardware and hospitality PMS and loyalty systems and relationships with hospitality service providers become a must to simplify the work for the hotel brand.
Hotel brands of all sizes seeking to create a seamless Wi-Fi experience across their various properties will need to consider a central guest Wi-Fi platform to offset the challenges of disparate systems and service providers worldwide. The core capabilities of central authentication are:
Flexible authentication options
A central authentication platform makes it easy for guests to log onto the hotel WiFi network with flexible options for doing so. There are various motivations behind a hotel brand’s choice of authentication options:
- Speed and convenience: some hotel brands want to offer a simple, yet secure login experience with agreement to terms of service (click and go) or short forms which ask for name and room number.
- Data capture: many brands see WiFi authentication as an opportunity to gather guest information like email address for future engagement opportunities. Social authentication via Facebook and other networks allows the hotel brand to access rich guest profile information to create better, more personalized experiences delivered via the Wi-Fi.
- Automatic connection: brands who wish to create that home-like WiFi experience are introducing ways to automatically connect to the network across properties with simple MAC address authentication or with
- Passpoint profiles guests can download for instant identification and automatic WiFi connection.
The authentication spectrum illustrates the most common ways to authenticate guests onto the Wi-Fi.
Integration with guest information systems
To harness the true power of central authentication, the platform must integrate with leading guest information systems like PMS (property management systems), loyalty databases and social networks. Rich WiFi
data can then be combined with loyalty status, social preferences, hotel services used, and revenue generated to create customer profiles to better understand their needs.
With an open central authentication, WiFi becomes the great enabler of the modern guest experience. From mobile check-in to iPad room service, many of the emerging amenities today’s guests crave are first and foremost reliant on a sturdy WiFi network that can easily connect with all the necessary systems that make this tech possible.
Smart network management
Central authentication eases the complexity of simultaneously managing WiFi for guest access, back-of-house system access, and staff or associate access.
Manage your guest network in real-time with Internet service plan provisioning, bandwidth optimization, and creation of unique access codes and permissions. Analyze the network at the individual property level or
across all of the properties in your brand to ensure consistency and overall performance.
In addition the guest side of the network, you can also better manage the back-of-house networks. With device management, you can ensure a secure, reliable connection for internal systems, like kitchen management,
housekeeping, and procurement. Staff and associate devices should also be managed from the same place, but connected to their own virtual network (VLAN) for better security.
Central authentication as the “great enabler”
Guest access to the Wi-Fi network is just the beginning of central authentication. As technology drives more and more aspects of the guest experience, a robust network is critically important to all aspects of a hotel brand’s strategy.
The magic of central authentication is in its role as the identifier. By utilizing central authentication as the middleware between guest-facing technology and the guest, we begin to tie technology together with a single thread, creating a more frictionless guest experience.
Much of “big data” today is static, passive, or even inaccessible. Using the central authentication platform as the connection point between the network and users, devices, and staff—we begin to make this data more manageable and actionable.
For example, if the dining area starts using more than average bandwidth, IT gets notified that there’s likely a problem., or if a VIP guest checks in, the concierge is notified to make a special call to welcome them.