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Unlocking Guest Digital Engagement with Wi-Fi: Prelude to Part 2

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March 26, 2018
Diane Estner - dianeestner@danni-enterprises.com
MarkMcBeth- mmcbeth@skydogpartners.com
StephenWang- iamwang899@gmail.com

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Central authentication allows hotels and businesses to “welcome/remember their guests” by automatically connecting guests’ devices to the Wi-Fi networks. How we take this enabler to the next level becomes a question that hoteliers, owners and franchisees are asking themselves. As a first step, hoteliers must ask what business requirements on central authentication are to help differentiate their brands from others. Below are some initial thoughts to consider:
  • Hotel brands have invested a great deal of money on loyalty program to connect with guests. Using central authentication to show the guest that “we remember you. Welcome to our Wi-Fi network," is just a beginning. How do we integrate central authentication (CA) with the loyalty program while the guests are on property? What features have you built in the loyalty program and what features do you need via CA?
  • With more than 2.8 billion active social media users in the world, we are sure that the guests want to connect to their social websites/programs while staying in the hotels, in the restaurant or wherever they go. Why don’t we integrate CA with the hotels’ Wi-Fi networks to seamlessly and automatically connect the guest devices to the social websites based on the personal preferences that the guests have already provided? After that, the hotels can then truly deliver their promises on “office away from office” and “home away from home.”
  • For hoteliers, do you know what the baseline technical requirements are for quality service performance? What performance criteria do you have for your CA service vendor?
Here’s a personal experience with Passpoint, sprinkled with professional opinions as a former hotelier. Mark McBeth and his wife were recently in the small town of Pawling, N.Y., browsing and shopping the quiet main street. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and noticed that he was connected to somebody's Wi-Fi. As an Xfinity customer at home and with the Xfinity Passpoint certificate on his phone, he was able to connect seamlessly to any Xfinity hotspot that happened to be in range. Mark had no idea which of the shops on main street he was connected to, but it reminded him how our expectations on connectivity is changing. We want to be online all the time and we want to seamlessly move between wireless and Wi-Fi networks. As a residential Xfinity customer Mark’s devices allow him to connect to Xfinity’s more than 8 million hotspots. It automatically connects him all over the country and has become an expectation in most places. It should be noted that most cable providers provide Passpoint capability, as well as other service providers such as Boingo and iPass.
Passpoint can be adapted for hotels and some brands have already pursued the solution. In McBeth’s opinion this is the simplest and most secure method of seamless connectivity. Ultimately Passpoint could solve one of the most challenging guest service issues for the hospitality. And if you have your loyal guests connected automatically, the logical next step is use that connection to personalize their visit.
Keep your eyes open for the follow up part 2 in the upcoming HU Summer 2018 edition, as the team explores the possibilities, pitfalls and breakthroughs, as well as predictions and ideas on how the digital guest journey will evolve. The trio will be including more details around 5G, Wi-Fi data security, Passpoint and more. 
Diane Estner of DANNI Enterprises can be reached at dianeestner@danni-enterprises.com. Mark McBeth (SkyDog Partners, mmcbeth@skydogpartners.com) and Stephen Wang (iamwang899@gmail.com), both distinguished hotel IT professionals, are co-contributors on this follow up and the pending part 2.

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