Why Hotels Cannot Afford Bad Cell Service
Spotty cellular coverage or “dead zones” inside your hotel can frustrate guests and discourage them from staying at your property again.
Business travel is anticipated to scale back up to $1.4 trillion by 2022 with family and leisure trips being expected to reach higher levels than in 2019. The future is looking much brighter for the hospitality industry, but poor cell service inside your hotel could hurt its comeback. Spotty cellular coverage or “dead zones” inside your hotel can frustrate guests and discourage them from staying at your property again. They pose a safety risk for guests and employees, too.
Poor in-building cellular coverage can also hold your hotel back from offering the digital convenience that consumers have come to expect in every aspect of their life – including every part of their hotel experience. For example, 70% of guests want to use their phone to speed up check-in.
The good news is that a lot of great groundwork has been laid over the past couple of years in the hospitality industry that can help your hotel deliver a guest-first experience today and tomorrow. Let’s take a look at how and why cellular connectivity inside your hotel is the key.
INSTANT MOBILE ACCESS TO IMPORTANT HOTEL INFORMATION
Hotel apps have improved the guest experience. For example, they are making check-in and check-out lines a thing of the past. Loyal customers can now avoid that annoying long check-in line altogether by simply opening their hotel’s app and gaining keyless entry to their rooms.
According to industry research, going cardless can save as much as $1,000/month in discarded RFID keycards while providing an additional environmental benefit. Also, automated check-ins and key issuing enable staff resources to be better utilized so staff can be reduced or employed where they can be more productive. Many hotel chains like Hilton and Starwood hotels already offer digital keyless check-in and entry through their cellphone apps.
Now that guests expect brands to focus on their health and safety too, they want contactless hotel services. In response, there are, for example, digital dining menus with mobile ordering and touchless delivery options. Contactless brings comfort not only to guests but to staff too and can improve the overall experience for today and tomorrow.
The trend of mobile pay and in-app services was a trend that grew with COVID-19 that can help to increase sales. Apps make payment incredibly easy by using built-in smartphone features. Hotels can take advantage of the phone’s camera to allow credit card scanning, address book and saved customer details via a secure keychain.
All of these hotel apps have one thing in common – they are powered by cellphones, making cellular the cornerstone of communication in the hotel world today. Because of that, a hotel cannot afford poor cell service. Imagine if your hotel gets TripAdvisor or Yelp reviews that read: “The cell service sucks at this property.” That review is going to hurt your business. Addressing poor cellular coverage in your hotel needs to be prioritized to set the way for delivering a guest-first experience.
ADDRESSING POOR CELLULAR COVERAGE INSIDE HOTELS
Hotels have done a great job of providing WiFi over the years, but this technology often provides poor and unreliable coverage. Cellular, however, provides a strong, stable, and secure signal that mobile devices need for top performance. Plus, carriers have effectively put towers up everywhere so there is great tower density. But many times, cellular signals can be blocked from entering hotels by building materials and things like rebar, cement, and sub-basements. A busy urban location can be a factor too.
As a result, many hotels – such as New York City’s Moxy Chelsea, the Embassy Suites & the Red Wolves Convention Center in Jonesboro, and the Texan Upscale – have turned to multi-carrier all-digital hybrid active DAS (Distributed Antenna System) solutions that have added an entirely new dimension to affordable in-building cellular coverage for hotel properties.
Hybrid active DAS solutions combine the digital distribution performance benefits of Active DAS at the price point of Passive DAS. Active DAS is a mature, high-performance technology but expensive, whereas Passive DAS can be cost-effective to improve in-building cellular coverage but has its limits. Hybrid active DAS solutions such as Cel-Fi QUATRA are the highest-grade solutions available to this market and provide up to 1000x more gain than solutions based on older analog technology.
Hybrid active DAS solutions also offer quick and easy installation. With the re-advent of conferences, an investment group that owns multiple properties deployed this solution into its conference centers in Philadelphia. The installation was rapid and the cellular coverage in hotels and conference centers exceeded the owners’ expectations.
CELLULAR CONNECTIVITY ENABLES PUBLIC SAFETY
Cellular connectivity is also important to ensure reliable in-building communication in life-or-death situations. First responders require it, and more customers are demanding it. If you are considering remedying cellular coverage challenges in your hotel, there is an opportunity to deliver both public safety and cellular connectivity. While these systems cannot be co-located legally, there is a labor advantage to doing both.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT SOLUTION
When picking a solution to improve cellular coverage in your hotel, start off by determining and prioritizing where your guests demand reliable cellular coverage. Then, do a walk- through of your facility, or have a wireless expert do it, to determine what you’re up against and where you need to focus your efforts. And finally, keep the following questions in mind when choosing a solution for boosting cellular connectivity in your hotel:
- What is its actual coverage footprint of the system (not just the specifications)?
- What is its cost per foot?
- Is it easy to install?
- Is it network-safe and carrier-grade?
- Is it scalable and future-proof?
Find more information about how to improve cellular coverage in your hotel, watch a pre-recorded webinar here.
A version of this article was originally published by Hospitality Technology.