Nomadix bets big on hotel Wi-Fi systems

Hospitality technology has been evolving at an exponential rate, and providers like Nomadix are helping to lead the charge. The company provides hotels with technology like TV casting, Wi-Fi, cloud-based phone service and the Angie line of in-room voice assistants.

Leonard Kleinrock founded Nomadix in 1998 with partner Joel Short as an internet gateway company, providing bandwidth management and a captive portal for hotels, according to Tammy Estes, Nomadix’s chief product officer. The company’s longevity, she added, has earned it a good reputation from the industry. “Hotels want technology that just works,” Estes said, noting that with the current staffing challenges, hoteliers do not have time to spend fixing inefficient technology. 

New Tech, New Capabilities

“Internet, over the last 10 or 15 years, has become an expectation,” Estes said. “And if it's not working, that drives calls to the front desk.” Internet access is the No. 1 driver of guest satisfaction in the industry, she added, and guests often bring an average of three Wi-Fi-enabled devices with them when they travel. While on-demand video has been a feature of hotel rooms for decades, the ability for guests to log into their cloud-based accounts requires different demands of a hotel’s tech infrastructure. (Estes estimated that 67 percent of hotel guests said the ability to cast from their personal devices affects the decision of what hotel to stay in.) Similarly, the growth of the Internet of Things in hotels—like voice-activated devices and smart locks—adds complexity to the network, Estes added. 

As technology bloomed, the company took steps to keep up. “We've paid close attention to these trends with the products that we've come out with, with the goal of providing very robust high-quality networks,” Estes said. The company’s gateway product manages bandwidth and the captive portal that lets guests get on the hotel’s Wi-Fi network. The TV casting product lets guests connect their personal devices to the in-room TVs while Nomadix Alerts, launched in June, is a line of staff safety devices that also monitor the hotel’s network for quality. Also in June, Nomadix announced a line of network architecture that includes access points, switches and controllers. 

Nomadix also launched a network-as-a-service solution that lets hotels “effectively” rent a network from the company for a monthly fee rather than make a big capital investment upfront. “We're really excited about that because we feel like with the financial pressures that hotels and property managers have been [under] over the last couple of years, there's not a lot of cash around to upgrade networks to meet these demands,” Estes said. The initiative, she added, will help smaller and independent hotels compete by providing the same kind of bandwidth as larger and branded properties do. 

Tech Solutions for Labor Problems

While hotels adjust to ongoing labor shortages, technology can step in to fill some gaps. In-room devices like the Angie line of voice-activated speakers (acquired by Nomadix in mid-2021) can provide basic information about hotel amenities or submit requests to the hotel team. Smart locks let guests skip the front desk, while smart thermostats can monitor a guestroom’s temperature, saving energy when guests are out and reducing the pressure on housekeepers. 

Similarly, cloud-based technology lets suppliers like Nomadix fix problems remotely, reducing the need for hotels to have an on-site IT specialist. “We're definitely looking seriously at what equipment can we get out of a wiring closet and up into the cloud,” Estes said.

But all of these improvements come back to providing a consistent network to maintain connections. “We're continuing, with our gateways, to increase the bandwidth that can be supported,” Estes said. “Internet access has dropped in cost and become much more available. So hotels are getting bigger pipes in to support the needs of their customers.” 

Ultimately, Estes hopes to see Nomadix become the single technology source for hotels: “If you've got products that work together, you've got one person to go to if you have any issues as opposed to going to this access point maker, this casting solution, this [managed service provider]—it all comes together and works together.” 

Logic in Logistics

Nomadix has a “very qualified” quality assurance team that tests every release, Estes said. “We've invested in the team, we've invested in the equipment, we do beta tests with strategic partners,” she said. “Having been responsible for products I've honestly not been put in a position at Nomadix to get something out before it's ready. I think there's really an understanding that, when one of your market values is quality, if you go out with a product that doesn't meet that quality, it more negatively impacts your bottom line than waiting a week or two or three to make sure it's solid.” The company will, however, prepare a product for launch even if all ancillary elements are not ready to go, she added. “Maybe you don't need these three additional features and we'll do that in another rep.”

Clicking with Clients

Nomadix offers 24/7 support for its hotel customers, and Estes noted that many of the representatives have been part of the support team for years and have forged relationships with the clients. “When I go to trade shows … I hear, ‘Debbie's just amazing’ [and] ‘I love Debbie, she’s so helpful. She always has such a positive attitude,’” she said. The company also has launched a partner portal that lets customers get quick information about products and their own accounts. “We put some effort into making it easier to get information,” Estes said. And now that travel is back to normal, team members and customers are holding face-to-face meetings—“getting those touch points in place that weren't able to be there for the last year, year and a half before that,” Estes said. “I think things are pretty much back to normal in that regard.”