The ability to accommodate good internet business is getting more attention by the small hospitality industry. Good internet business ideas require more than high-speed internet and a desk in the guest room. Bed and Breakfasts and Inns around the Country are evaluating their ability to provide excellent connectivity and internet service for business travelers and leisure guests alike. The demand from, not only, millennial travelers, but all guests, in general, has fueled the need for Innkeepers and owners to up their connectivity game.
So what does it take to evaluate computer and connectivity needs in a particular Inn?
First, the Innkeeper or owner needs a clear understanding of who their guest is and what their needs are. An establishment with heavy business travel traffic will have different needs than an Inn do a Wedding Business venue.
Second, has an IT Professional reviewed the overall business internet needs and connectivity. Age of the establishment, current connectivity, and geography, among other factors, will play into what the business can accomplish with a new system.
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Levels of Connectivity
Connectivity needs can be addressed on several levels: software needs, hardware needs, and furniture needs in order to adequately outfit a guest room to be fully functional for today’s techie traveler, and definitely for today’s business traveler. We will also address what an owner should consider if they wish to accommodate business conferences and board meetings.
Take Guest WiFi to a Whole New Level
Tagline: Fast Free and Reliable
According to studies of traveling public, guests who stay at various types of lodging consider the ability to connect to the internet more important than any other amenity. That is huge! Considering that statistic it makes sense if there is an option where to spend our money, the “Lion's Share” might go to our connectively and internet. As one might suspect, if your WiFi is slow and unreliable, your guests will rate their experience at your Inn unsatisfactory. So much for Trip Advisor ratings! You must not only have WiFi access; it must be fast and reliable. Having reliable connectivity you can market, may seem like a tall order, but designed correctly, it is doable. Sell your Inn's connectivity – Fast, Free, Reliable. There are a few Hospitality Wireless Internet services that can assist you with a review of your needs and complete review of your network.
Guests are doing more than simply check email online. They use the internet for a variety of activities that require a robust internet service, activities that test a system include:
- listening to music
- playing games
- streaming movies
Activities such as these demands a reliable internet, and the larger your Inn the greater the demand for your internet service. Another consideration of your internet is whether it can reach beyond the walls of your establishment. Do you have areas such as a pool, gardens, or picnic area, can the guest go out to the grounds and still have WiFi service? What happens on a beautiful day and your guest wishes to work outdoors? You will need to hire an IT expert if you are not able to maintain the system. It will be critical to have 24/7 technical support to prevent extended outages of your WiFi system.
Streaming services can also be very popular with guests. One might explore whether these services are cost-effective options to provide as an amenity for visiting guests. Consider streaming services as an add-on service or rentable for guests staying for extended periods of time. At any rate, it is prudent to be aware they exist and are an essential part of guest leisure time. Consider a few of the major services currently on the market.
Guests will expect wireless access to the audio internet. There are several service providers that owners in the hospitality industry can tap into who can assist with setting up an adequate system that meets the needs of the Inn and visiting guests. Visit the following link for one such company that caters to connectivity within the hospitality industry.
The owners should look at some of the big brands to provide streaming services to their guests, a few to consider might include Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Hulu Plus, Vudu, etc. These companies provide streaming of movies, music, and additional services like self-help and exercise per customer service agreement. Guests will expect wireless access to the audio internet. There are several service providers that owners in the hospitality industry can tap into who can assist with setting up an adequate system that meets the needs of the Inn and visiting guests. There are a couple companies that cater to connectivity within the hospitality industry.
Hardware is more of an afterthought when putting connectivity together, but in fact, these are essential elements to the entire WiFi package and can range from cheap junk that contributes to connectivity issues all the way to adding many unnecessary costs and not provide enough for what you put into them. Consult your IT specialist to find that perfect balance of hardware for your setup.
What exactly is “hardware?”
There are many types of hardware we can discuss, network hardware, digital hardware, or auxiliary hardware. For the purposes here let's consider the “nuts and bolts” physical hardware that make up a computer system.
Computer Hardware can include the hardware components internal to the computer, such as the Central Processing Unit, Video Card, Solid-State Drive (SSD), or Hard Drive.
However, there are more common hardware components that we come in contact with and cause us to think of hardware. These may be connected to the outside of a computer or laptop and include:
Battery Backup (UPS)
External Hard Drive
Manufacturers are becoming savvy in the way they provide a modern connectivity solution for setups for guest rooms. These can be a multitude of connectivity options for computers, iPads, iPhones, mobile device charging stations, and multi-access outlets, just to name a few.
Furniture for the Future of Online
Furniture needs to not only accent the room, it also needs to be functional and add to the overall room design. Older Inns and hotels may not be designed with modern business needs in mind. A guestroom will need adequate access to power. Standards from 50 years ago, like one outlet behind the nightstand, is unlikely to be satisfactory. A well-prepared guestroom will need an ethernet connection, a desk, and proper lighting, including a lamp on the desk and nightstand. Today many guestrooms are switching out older lamps for lamps that have an auxiliary outlet and USB port. It is no longer acceptable to expect a guest to crawl behind nightstands or under beds to access power sources or share outlets with the bedside alarm clock.
Furniture with technology built in can make life much easier and enjoyable for the techie traveler. There is nothing more irritating to a guest than having to unplug a clock or move a nightstand to get mobile devices plugged in. There is also a risk when devices are plugged in behind furniture that it will be forgotten upon check out. Now you have an irritated guest for multiple reasons.
There are many options for nightstands that fit any decor. Nightstands have built-in outlets and/or mobile device chargers built into the side of the nightstand or built inside a pull out drawer. Either option can be extremely handy for charging devices overnight.
There are many styles of lamps available on the market that have built-in auxiliary outlets in the base, and additional mobile device charging ports. The addition of one or two of these lamps in a guest room will add multiple options for your guest to charge up, and stay connected during their stay.
The desk is an important work feature in a guest room, but often times you prefer that it not take up the entire room, because you want the room to still remain a place to relax. The new “floating desks” as they are so-called attach to the wall or brace up against the wall. They are extremely space saving, yet offer a comfortable workspace with enough area for a computer and other ancillary work items.
Ready to Move into the Business of Business
Guest room needs will differ slightly from a room you market exclusively to the business traveler, but if you are marketing your Bed and Breakfast as offering a Meeting Room or Conference/Board Room, you will need to provide a greater level of technology and connectivity. The following common conference room problems are just a few major irritations guests might experience using a meeting room that is not adequately connected and set up:
- They were unable to secure a connection to the internet, or it was a slow unreliable connection.
- The presentation and AV equipment were in the front of the room, and outlets were on the opposite side of the room.
- They needed a charging station, and none was available.
- No AV equipment or connectivity cables were not available.
- Office and paper products are not present
These are the potential obstacles that need to be addressed before you begin renting out conference room space. When business guests have a positive experience they will not only return but will refer your facility to others. Another important point, if you have no or little experience with technology, an expert IT consultant should be retained to set up and demonstrate your IT equipment.
Build it – They Will Come
Audiovisual equipment has revolutionized how companies conduct business and decreased travel expense and time. This is an area the hospitality industry can capitalize on. There is value in providing a well-equipped conference room for your traveling business guests to gather for a mid-road meeting. If you can provide high-quality internet connection and AV equipment, the business traveler only needs to go as far as your Inn for their meeting.
Making Business Convenient
In-room wireless internet access and video conferencing connect all business partners via laptops in real time. Team members no longer are required to be physically present at the office to participate in meetings; they can work remotely from their lodging location. Voice over IP (VoIP) is another popular option for phone conferencing from the home office when travel is not an option. Small hospitality businesses who decide to set up a conference room should request help. There are able IT companies who will consult with a small business to set up a conference room onsite.