Hotel WiFi: Passwords Are Passé

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Earlier this year I spent a few nights in a very nice hotel in Chiang Rai, northern Thailand, whose name I will omit from this piece so as not to cause them embarrassment (though given that there aren’t that many very nice hotels in Chiang Rai, you can probably work it out).

Like all civilised properties these days, the hotel provided its guests with free WiFi access. However, the free WiFi was accessed via the rather tiresome “connect to internet, then go to hotel splash page and log on with user name and password” method. The user name/password combos were computer-generated and handed out like ATM card pin numbers, ie sealed pieces of paper, lest this top secret information might fall into the wrong hands. Even worse, the password could only be used on one device at at a time, which meant that those of us with multiple devices had to get multiple pieces of paper. Oh, and access was only valid for 24 hours, which meant multiple pieces of paper every day.

On my final day I sat in the lobby for an hour waiting for my airport pickup, and I estimated that at least 50% of all reception-guest interactions involved the handing over of these little pieces of paper, which the staff seemed to consider a normal part of their job but which to an outsider was an utterly ridiculous way for trained staff to spend their time.

The concept of the WiFi password is becoming obsolete. It’s impractical and inefficient – your staff have much better things to do than memorise WiFi passwords or hand out pieces of paper, and for guests it’s inconvenient. WiFi is now as essential to hotel guests as running water or lighting, and so accessing it should be as simple as turning on a tap or flicking a switch.

So what’s the answer? More & more hotels and restaurants are switching to the social WiFi model, where guests log in to WiFi networks either using their social media credentials or their email address/phone number. It’s quick, there are no passwords to remember or hand out on little pieces of paper, and it’s a great way for hotels to collect customer contact details – particularly in hotels with a lot of F&B and conference traffic. And best of all it’s affordable and runs on top of your existing WiFi network, meaning, in most cases, no big technology upgrades.

To find out more about the benefits of switching to social WiFi, read this case study about how one of our clients has seen big revenue increases since adoption, or email us on hello@representasia.com.

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About Author

Tim is one of representasia’s co-founders and the company’s CMO. He has been in the tourism industry since 1992 and has worked in Paris, London, Saigon & Bangkok. He has a strong background in operations, technology, sales & marketing. Representasia is his second business venture, following his founding of a successful Vietnam DMC in 2009.

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