LONDON – 28 October 2019: A new white paper from hospitality connectivity specialist Vital WiFi claims that most UK hotels lack the infrastructure to run modern digital services. Vital WiFi can implement a scalable unified network that manages multiple hotel WiFi connections.
‘Beyond Guest WiFi: The Demands on a Unified Network’ is available from 28 October 2019. Authored by Vital WiFi with contributions from Ruckus Networks (now part of CommScope via acquisition), the white paper provides a 360-degree take on digital solutions actively being adopted in hotels. These include mobile room keys, smart room infrastructure, IoT devices, IP closed-circuit television (CCTV) and Electronic Point of Sale (EPOS) units.
The white paper concludes that dependency on disparate wireless network standards prevents many hotels from fully supporting critical technology. This is due to the fragmented ecosystem of devices and services – and the resulting infrastructure silos or legacy WiFi systems that simply lack the capability to efficiently cope with an ever-increasing data load.
The solution, the report says, is to adopt a “unified network” upon which all a hotel’s digital services can rely. Left unaddressed, it may frustrate the digital deployments and upgrades that much of the hotel industry is committed to.
“A WiFi network needs to handle more than Guest WiFi,” says Vital WiFi Director, Joe Burnell. “The convergence of IoT, online entertainment, messaging, video, smart room tech, IP CCTV, to name but a few, all vying for bandwidth throughout the building puts everything at risk. EPOS and property management systems need to access servers and wireless room locks, whilst guests want to stream Netflix on their devices. Meanwhile, the maintenance department is adjusting heating via sensors across the estate. If internal connectivity isn’t up to the job, then a hotel is putting its reputation into jeopardy.”
But avoiding cutting-edge tech is not an option either, emphasizes the report: “Customer service is perhaps nowhere more acutely observed than in the hospitality industry and it is rapidly being judged by guests through guest-facing technology.” The white paper also suggests that hotels are “as much technology companies as purveyors of hospitality.”
Convergence of IoT and Guest WiFi
Over the years, many hotels have created a complex web of disparate networks, often layered on top of one another, to service property management systems, Guest WiFi, back-office infrastructure and security systems. These disparate networks often operate with separate software and hardware, resulting in an inefficient myriad of systems, cabling, servers and software – all in their own silos.
This complexity is further confounded by various generations of networks, as well as multiple service/IT providers. A unified network consolidates multiple physical-layer networks into a single converged network, saving money and time in deployment. Working with a trusted connectivity partner, the report says, can help hotels more efficiently handle all wired and wireless aspects.
“Previously, we observed the adoption of converged networks for guest room technology like voice, video and data,” said Larry Birnbaum, vice president Global Hospitality Ruckus Networks at CommScope. “The current need is to converge IT networks with operations technology networks. As we see the convergence of lifestyle and technology, operations technology must be fully integrated. Put simply, energy management, lighting controls, access controls, and other IoT application are best merged into a single network. Such platforms generate valuable analytics, improve operations and create efficiencies which reduce construction, capital and operating costs.”
The report makes 10 fundamental predictions for WiFi in hotels, starting with universally high ‘Digital Expectations’ driven by Millennials which it says will be the largest group of hotel bookers by 2020. The second key trend it predicts is that guests are willing to share personal data in exchange for value-added services.
The report also predicts that hotel WiFi networks will become critical in 8 key areas over and above Guest WiFi which it believes current WiFi infrastructure will struggle to handle. These include chatbots and voice assistants; keyless entry; self-service check-in; coworking flexible spaces; seamless connectivity; smart room; bring-your-own-device; and location-based services.
The report provides a comprehensive guide on digital wireless services for the independent hotelier and is available to download at https://vital-download.com/