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Four Seasons rolled out what the brand is referring to as a “new global standard” of Wi-Fi across its hotels around the world, providing guests and customers with complimentary Wi-Fi, accessible by an unlimited number of their personal devices.
Scott Taber, senior vice president of rooms for Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, says that although a number of Four Seasons properties already had free Wi-Fi access, the company has slowly been building the infrastructure to offer guests faster and stronger Wi-Fi that is complimentary and does not cap the amount of their personal devices on the network.
“The use of Wi-Fi has become so pervasive, and everything that drives many of us in our lives is coming through Wi-Fi,” Taber says. “In collaboration with owners in our hotels, we wanted to make free access standard at all of our hotels.”
Four Seasons also launched a mobile app earlier this year, another contributing factor to the hotel’s democratization of Wi-Fi.
“We want people to be using our mobile app while they are inside our hotel or in our outlets, so this gives people yet another reason or way to jump on the app.”
Visitors to Four Seasons properties, whether staying as guests or frequenting a hotel restaurant or bar, can connect to the Internet through a simple click, Taber says; however, due to legal restrictions in China and India, guests have to register to use the internet. Hotels in more remote locations may be subject to connectivity and signal-strength issues.
The process to create the new network took time and organization, Taber says, as the Four Seasons team had to check hotel access points, acquire the right equipment for connection speed and ensure the quality meets guests demands.
“It’s a single network that goes from our lobby to our bars to the hotel rooms,” he adds. “Once you’re on and you’ve done that single click connect, you’re not changing in between Wi-Fi networks, which makes it smoother.”
Four Seasons operated on a two-tier Internet-service plan. Tier one serves basic Internet needs like emailing and surfing the Web and the second tier is used for large file uploads, downloads, streaming and other purposes for a fee. Though Four Seasons still uses this two-tier infrastructure, Taber says the first tier is now “accessible by an unlimited number of devices, and we’ve raised the minimum bandwidth to 1.5 megabytes.”
Taber says the move is an investment in Four Seasons’ business.
“The demand for internet has grown so much, how do you stay ahead of that and how do you create systems that can match that, so it has taken a lot of effort between hotel owners and IT teams to make sure we can meet the demands our guests would expect.”
And as Taber emphasizes, it isn’t just good news for those staying in Four Seasons properties but also for those who visit onsite restaurants or bars.
But the question needs to be asked: Is it necessary to hook up to Wi-Fi if you’re simply out to enjoy a drink or have a good meal?
“I don’t know if we are here to try and change how people use their devices,” Taber says. “We are here to provide them great service with great food and great hospitality with however they choose to stay wired.”