Hoteliers are adopting an increasingly diverse array of strategies to generate money from hotel Wi-Fi to cope with the strain device-toting guests can put on a property’s bandwidth.
“The subscription model, which had been the previous way to offset the cost of Wi-Fi, is falling by the wayside,” said Brendon Kensel, president of MediaShift.
Kensel said that tiered bandwidth models, with lower-speed free Wi-Fi and higher-speed for a fee, are starting to increase in popularity, as well as Wi-Fi supported by 15- to 30-second splash ads displayed upon login.
Third-party ads can generate revenue for hotel Wi-Fi.
These ads can be paid for by a third party or part of a hotel’s own branding, said Kerry Crowell, COO at Ovation Networks.
“You have a captive audience,” Crowell said. “You can remind them that there’s a restaurant downstairs, or a spa or any other services a hotel is looking to drive revenue for.” Hotels can also partner with local businesses on paid ads.
Jeff Abramowitz, founder and CEO of PowerCloud Systems, said that Wi-Fi networks can be harnessed for customer relationship management.
“You can create opportunities for the hotel to get information about guests that could be useful later,” Abramowitz said. “For example, you can integrate social sign in and use that information to provide direct marketing for any number of things.”
Another way to make use of Wi-Fi is as a source of business intelligence, Abramowitz said. Since Wi-Fi networks can detect how many people in the area have Wi-Fi enabled devices, businesses can use them to monitor traffic patterns for performance comparisons and to improve operations.
“Right now this is happening more in retail, but you can use the same principles in hotels,” Abramowitz said. “If you can tell how many people were in the lobby at 6:30 or 7 p.m., you can compare that to yesterday or to data from another hotel.”
Hotels may be able to combine customer relationship management and traffic analysis to gain a more sophisticated understanding of guests to drive business where a hotel needs it, such as in the lobby or an on-site restaurant, Abramowitz said.