Recently, we wrote about the guest Wi-Fi networks that the Department of Veterans Affairs had asked RESOLUTE Partners to install in some of its hospitals. This week, we take a step back and talk about a broader issue: why you should offer guest Wi-Fi at all.
In the context of Wi-Fi Internet access, we define "guest" fairly expansively. While the term is typically associated with the hospitality industry, we also include in it individuals such as customers, employees, business visitors, vendors and delivery drivers. Providing wireless Internet access to these groups of people is essential for several reasons.
1. Guests Expect Wi-Fi Internet Access
Offering guest Wi-Fi is fast becoming a baseline for what people expect from an organization, be it a small coffee shop or a sprawling military base. People simply take it for granted that a commercial or government building will provide it.
If you don't offer Wi-Fi Internet access, you run the risk of your customers thinking less of your organization and comparing you unfavorably with your competitors.
Speaking of competitors...
2. Offering Wireless Internet Access to Guests Gives You a Competitive Advantage
Having access to the Internet improves the guest experience and drives more traffic to a business. A lack of Wi-Fi service will put you at a disadvantage to a competitor that offers their guests a more inviting environment. Adding wireless Internet access for guests is a must, if only to keep up with the market.
3. If You Enjoy Wireless Internet Access, Your Guests Should Too
Most enterprises rely on wireless networks for their day-to-day operations. Employees use the networks to access their organization's private applications and be productive when they're mobile. Your guests are mobile too – why keep them from accessing the Internet while they're at your facility? Adding guest access to an existing network can be accomplished safely and inexpensively.
4. Wireless Internet Is No Longer Expensive
The cost of technology and implementation has declined dramatically over the past few years. There's no longer an economic argument against deploying a guest Wi-Fi network.
5. Your Guest Wi-Fi Network Is a Source of Business Intelligence
The smartphones we carry everywhere are constantly searching for wireless networks. As a result, it is possible to extract presence-based data from the network and analyze the information to make better business decisions.
For example, presence-based analytics can tell you where your guests linger and for how long, which locations get more traffic and which areas guests avoid. You can use this data to reconfigure your space, send customized offers to guests who have opted in, or show them way finding maps of your facility based on their exact location.
Deploying a Guest Wireless Network
If you haven't deployed a guest Wi-Fi network yet, we recommend you do so. If you have, here are some points to consider in evaluating whether the network has been properly set up.
- Have you branded your network, or does it carry your Internet service provider's brand?
- If several neighboring Wi-Fi networks are available at your location, will guests know which one is yours?
- How much control do you have over your network and its access points?
- Do you use content filtering?
- Have you posted your Acceptable Use policy prominently during the authentication process?
- Does your network comply with CALEA (Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act)?
- Have you created separate virtual LANs (Local Area Network) for your guest wireless network and your own business use?
Offering guest Wi-Fi access is no longer optional. It is simply part of doing business. To find out more about the benefits of installing a guest Wi-Fi network or how to ensure your network is secure, optimized and compliant, contact RESOLUTE Partners.