'I beg your pardon?" Another Basil Fawlty communication issue (Fawlty Towers)
I travel, and I stay in a lot of hotels and every one of those has been better than Fawlty Towers.
However, when booking for the week away, one of the websites that I use, aside from Tripadvisor, is “HotelWifiTest.com”.
Because once I’ve slung my bags down onto the hotel bed, I am no longer satisfied with being subject to a broadcast schedule and T.V. controller, I hate to admit it, but I have become one of the “I want it, and I want it now” Millennials (albeit I am far too old to actually be one). I could be watching anything from The Walking Dead to Parks & Recreation to YouTube’s latest IT Infrastructure doodle video; no matter what it is, one thing is for certain…I have no time or patience for buffering! I thought “buffering” had been consigned to the past along with dial up modems and AOL.
Whilst this might sound a little conceited, hotels are now increasingly recognising the importance of providing highly available Internet and leveraging it in the market space. Indeed, not so long ago, Hotels charged for WiFi access. Now very few hotels in London charge. Things are changing very quickly.
A recent study* found that:
· 67% of guests said free WiFi would make them choose a hotel over a competitor
· 60% of travellers recognised WiFi as important while visiting a new place as it allowed them to learn about the local area
· A good internet connection was ranked even more important than the hotel’s location or the attitude of their staff
Providing this level of service requires two things: a good quality WiFi setup; and a good quality internet connection.
Providing the right connectivity is critical to delivering a good quality service and this is a challenge that is only going to get bigger! For context, one hotel we recently met with told us that they had to plan for eight connected devices per room…
At peak periods, with this level of demand, bandwidth can get used up swiftly. So how do hotels deal with this problem?
· Do nothing…I don’t tend to go back to these!
· Buy more bandwidth (where available, as geography clearly has an impact here)
· Buy MPLS
· Apply Quality of Service / Optimisation services
Some of these options can get pretty costly and none guarantee performance. However, there is now another option that will provide customers with high quality connectivity, bandwidth and security without the significant cost.
SD-WAN is transforming the way Hospitality delivers Wide Area Networks. Why?
· Enables bonding of all available links – load balancing across all links to deliver the best performance possible (this can be across MPLS, consumer broadband, or 4G etc).
· Path conditions – reduces loss and errors to create a secure, private line like performance. Many customers are finding that “Gold Badge” services like MPLS are no longer required as they are getting similar performance from the Internet at a fraction of the cost.
· Provides WAN Optimisation – de-duplication, compression etc.
· Visibility – how are guests consuming the internet, and what applications are they using? (Hotels may not be interested in this, or even want to know!) However, if there are any issues and residents are complaining, it’s no longer a case of calling the Service Provider to ask if the link is up or down. The Enterprise has complete visibility of the network and the applications to aid quick resolution.
· Choice – No longer locked into one specific Service Provider. Better connectivity with another supplier? No problem, go buy it and monitor performance centrally. Mix and match the service providers of your choice, selecting the best performing connections for each geographical location to provide a highly resilient WAN.
What does this mean for Hospitality?
In short, it means that it is possible to provide high performing connectivity to their residents without having to invest in costly alternatives such as MPLS, whilst gaining a clear picture of the entire network and how it is being consumed.
Ultimately, it’s a means of keeping difficult customers like me happy!
If you’d like to know more about how SD-WAN could benefit your organisation, get in touch.