Hoteliers need to be proactive in upgrading connectivity

Hotel guests are increasingly living digitally driven lives and staff are consistently accessing data throughout properties. Being proactive with internet bandwidth and cybersecurity protections can help improve user satisfaction because they will experience reliable Wi-Fi, high-speed connectivity and frictionless convenience when interacting with hotel technology, said Richard Twilley, group VP, vertical markets for Spectrum Enterprise.

“Building a modern network that can help capitalize on opportunities should be viewed as supporting strategic revenue goals for hotel operators,” Twilley continued. “Travelers are demanding connectivity and access to their cloud resources to let them work and play from anywhere. Proactive security measures are helping hoteliers defend against cybersecurity threats.”

Not only does being proactive improve the guest experience but it also improves operations, gives hotels cost savings and prevents downtime, said Enseo CEO Corey Rhodes. “Hoteliers have enough on their plate and do not have time to always be reacting to issues and guest complaints. Proactive monitoring and management of digital infrastructure provide efficient day-to-day operations, including optimizing system performance, reducing downtime and streamlining processes for both guests and staff,” Rhodes said.

Also, being proactive can result in cost savings over time. Implementing regular maintenance, updates and system checks can prevent major issues that might require costly and timely fixes or complete system overhauls, Rhodes continued. Lastly, proactive measures help prevent system failures and downtime, which is critical in hospitality where guests expect seamless access to services.

It is important for hoteliers to plan on upgrading the digital infrastructure on a regular basis in a phased approach—by building and/or by floor—to keep up with the increasing need for wireless connectivity of guest devices and property-based Internet of Things devices. Richard Wagner, Nomadix’s director of certification and compliance, recommends hoteliers plan on upgrading the wireless infrastructure and WAN every three years and the switches and firewall on an as-needed basis.

For the most cost-effective upgrade, it is best to be forward-thinking by choosing a technology that will not need to be replaced again in just a few years, said Robert Grosz, president and COO of WorldVue. Fiber, particularly multi-mode fiber, is more versatile in terms of future-proofing your infrastructure, making it easier and more cost-effective to add new technology as it arises. “Fiber provides essentially unlimited bandwidth, so it can carry all the traffic you need, whether for Wi-Fi, phones, key cards, TVs, or anything else,” he said.

In addition to the technical requirements, hoteliers must understand who will be managing the digital infrastructure, said Bryan Slayman, product line manager at EnGenius. “Will it be the hotel’s IT team or a service provider?” he asked. “This will help the hotelier understand what’s needed to support a new infrastructure like monthly or annual cost, staffing, etc.”

The other concern to keep in mind is security with outdated systems, warned Trevor Dowswell, chief technology officer at Hotel Internet Services. “Cybercrime is continuing to expand at an alarming rate, and criminals are consistently finding new methods to infect and steal,” he continued. “Having an out-of-date system is like having a target on your back.”

Are Supply Chain Issues Still Wreaking Havoc?

The supply chain issues that had been affecting hotels the past two years have declined. “The good news is that the equipment is flowing,” said David Heckaman, Cloud5’s VP of product development. “There’s still a backlog but instead of being nine months or 12 months, it’s now down to two to three months.”

There have always been blips in distribution, Heckaman warned, but for the most part, suppliers are getting caught up. The problem is there’s a backlog and then companies are also selling, so it is creating a deployment chain backup. “This will probably continue for a while so the best thing to do, if you know you need to upgrade, is put your name in the pot and get your deposits paid,” he said.

Many vendors are still having issues getting the components for the networking equipment. If a hotel is still having issues getting networking equipment, then they may have to modify their standards to purchase equipment from a different vendor, warned Wagner. “Hotels should not purchase Wi-Fi access points from more than one vendor because the management of those various APs will be difficult and time-consuming. Although not as much an issue for switches, it’s still recommended that they purchase all of the switches from the same vendor.

There are other challenges beyond the supply chain ones that are impacting digital infrastructure installation and upgrades. Cost is a big factor when it comes to ensuring infrastructure is up to standards. Limited access to capital can cause hoteliers to not be able to invest in upgrades, said Grosz.

Another big factor is aging infrastructure. “Older properties could face longer renovation times, increased closures or have to upgrade in phases that could impact their occupancy,” Grosz continued. “Providing a stable connection network for guests, such as adequate internet, as well as protecting the guests’ personal information, deems it necessary to invest in IT infrastructure.”