In a world where connectivity is king, hotels face an ever-evolving landscape of guest expectations. As the industry adopts cloud-based solutions to meet these growing demands, new standards are being set for the connected hotel of tomorrow.
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Gone are the days when a basic Wi-Fi connection would suffice for hotels looking to meet their guests’ needs. With the proliferation of connected devices and the increasing adoption of cloud-based solutions, the definition of “network” has evolved drastically in the hospitality industry. Today, advanced connectivity is the backbone of a successful hospitality enterprise. According to a recent study by Hotel Technology, 73 percent of guests surveyed are likely to return to a hotel that meets their technology needs.
As guests rely on more and more devices and apps during their stay, and as “work from anywhere” becomes more common, hotels must step up to provide a comprehensive, connected experience — everywhere on a property and for all guest devices.
“Today’s guests want an almost at-home-like experience when it comes to connectivity. As they juggle between smartphones, laptops, tablets, and wearables, there’s an expectation of seamless network coverage that caters to their tech-driven habits. As surveys of guest amenities have shown, connectivity is often the number one ranked guest amenity, making it absolutely paramount for hotels to provide a flawless experience,” said Lennert De Jong, president of hospitality at Planet.
The Connectivity Challenge in Today’s Digital Age
It’s clear that advanced connectivity is no longer a “nice to have” — it’s a non-negotiable aspect of a guest’s stay. The rise of contactless solutions, such as digital menus, virtual meetings, and smartphone payments has led to a substantial increase in Wi-Fi and mobile device usage, as highlighted in Skift Research’s Contactless Tech in Hospitality report. But while guests expect seamless internet access across all channels and devices, they’re often unwilling to pay extra for it. This poses a challenge for hotels.
“Once a paid service, hotel connectivity is now expected for free, but with higher quality expectations. This creates a sort of dichotomy where guests want more but are willing to pay less, or nothing at all. Although some hotels attempt to offer tiered services, the truth is that most people expect a decent level of connectivity without cost,” De Jong said.
Another hurdle is managing the growing need for capacity and system updates. With internet infrastructure requiring updates every four years on average, hotels often struggle to keep up.
“The need for regular updates comes from ongoing improvements in wireless technology. While wired connections remain in use for conference spaces and certain situations, wireless technology keeps getting better with enhanced security, speed, and capacity. This means hotels must update their systems frequently to stay current with the latest developments,” De Jong said.
Bridging the Guest Expectations and the Infrastructure Gap
As hotels continue to navigate the complex landscape of connectivity, Planet offers a suite of solutions that provides hotels with cloud-based platforms, hardware-agnostic internet, and a variety of content management and performance tools. The company’s Dashboard, for example, enables hotel owners to analyze trends, monitor consumption, and review service tickets, providing essential data to optimize the guest experience. Another example is the CMS, a unified content management tool that helps hotels create a consistent and personalized experience across all digital touchpoints, such as the guest internet portal, TV platforms, and digital signage — all from one secure, centralized location. The company also provides specialized services such as conference and wired connectivity solutions to help hotels maximize the potential of their meeting and event spaces.
Planet serves Wi-Fi to over 400,000 hotel rooms in nearly 100 countries and partners with many of the world’s finest hotel chains. “At Planet, we know that earning guest loyalty is critical for our hotel partners. Our tools — like the Dashboard and our all-in-one content management system — help hotels improve their digital presence and offer a consistent brand experience. By providing end-to-end managed services, we help create an environment that encourages guests to return, ultimately boosting loyalty in a highly competitive market,” De Jong said.
Navigating Guest Entertainment in the Evolving Hotel Landscape
Before the streaming era hit the mainstream, hotels were the primary content providers. The power has now shifted towards guests who consume content through multiple platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and Disney+. As a result, hotels have transitioned from content providers to content facilitators. The primary challenge for hotels in this new role is to facilitate content consumption while accommodating multiple devices and streaming platforms.
“Guests are increasingly looking to watch content on larger screens provided by the hotel rather than their smaller personal devices. We facilitate this by providing hotels with cast-to-TV-enabled systems so guests can easily connect their devices to the in-room screens and enjoy a high-quality viewing experience without constant buffering,” said Simon I’Anson, senior vice president, global hospitality accounts at Planet.
The need for constant connection extends beyond the room. Guests now expect extensive coverage throughout the property, whether they’re working from the café, engaging on social media in the restaurant, or even in shared spaces like the lobby and conference areas.
“Networking reaches every area of the property, from back-of-house to front-of-house, the car park, and even the pool. Our connectivity solutions not only enhance the guest experience but also supports other product lines, such as payment systems. For example, if a payment terminal relies on Wi-Fi and the pool area has poor coverage, it leads to a frustrating experience for both guests and staff. By unifying these fragmented systems, we offer an integrated experience, ultimately keeping both guests and hotels happy,” I’Anson said.
Embracing the Cloud to Streamline Hotel Operations
The pandemic has prompted shifts in investment strategies, leading more hotels to adopt cloud-based technologies. According to Skift Research’s 2022 Digital Transformation Report, almost 87 percent of surveyed travel executives said they were using cloud computing to help improve the customer experience and optimize operations. As the industry continues to adapt to digital transformation, a key focus area for Planet is helping hotels migrate their on-site infrastructure to the cloud.
“A major trend we’re witnessing is the shift towards cloud technologies. While certain elements like TVs and Wi-Fi access points will remain on-site, most other aspects, such as content processing and distribution, are increasingly cloud-based. We utilize cloud backends to provide scalable and efficient managed services for hotels. This eliminates the need for on-property infrastructure, resulting in a more streamlined and cost-effective solution,” I’Anson said.
He continued, “We recently introduced a product called ‘Welcome Back’ for a hotel chain. Guests register once, and with their consent, our cloud-based platform recognizes their device whenever they enter any of the operator’s hotels worldwide. Instead of going through a login process, guests receive a simple ‘Welcome Back’ message. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. The feature not only appealed to room guests but also to those visiting the hotel’s coffee shops and working remotely. It’s a subtle touch, but it truly helps create a sense of loyalty by bringing that at-home experience to guests.”
According to De Jong, Planet aims to be the go-to partner for hotels as they make this shift towards more streamlined, cloud-driven systems. He explained: “This journey towards cloud adoption has truly taken off in the last 12 months, with some facets progressing even earlier. The reality is, we’re here to be the partner that helps hotels make this transition, and that will be at the core of our proposition going forward.”
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