According to recent statistics, 77 percent of adults in the United States own a smartphone. Indeed, today’s digital journey has revolutionized the dining experience and, in turn, has impacted the way the restaurant industry must do business in order to stay profitable. As such, Wi-Fi has evolved from merely being a nice to have, to an absolute necessity. One of the best ways to attract the smartphone-carrying crowd is by offering them a complimentary Wi-Fi internet connection. Beyond being available, Wi-Fi must also be secure, reliable, ubiquitous, the right speed for your users, and must support BYOD (bring your own device) for guests and employees, each with their own appropriate access rights. Equally important is the necessity of having two very distinct Wi-Fi networks – one available to the public and another secured one exclusive to the business.
Indeed, all the benefits of offering free Wi-Fi could be lost without a separate internet connection for public use. In fact, if you accept credit cards, which most restaurants today do, PCI compliance dictates that you should have a separate dedicated internet connection for processing credit card payments to prevent your customers’ data from being accessed and stolen by hackers.
If you want your business to reap all the benefits of offering free Wi-Fi, you cannot skimp on speed. For a customer, there’s nothing worse than a website crashing, or seeing the spinning wheel turn endlessly as the video buffers. Rather than sit patiently and wait, most diners will simply abandon their search and move on. In fact, a business would be better not offering Wi-Fi at all if it is slow and unreliable. Since bandwidth governs all mobile technologies that use the Internet (including personal devices being used in public areas outside of the restaurant), it is vital that you ensure there will be enough bandwidth to accommodate all users, including your customers and your employees. An experienced and knowledgeable Managed Wi-Fi Solutions provider can help you determine the appropriate bandwidth for your particular venue, to ensure seamless guest Wi-Fi and an optimal dining experience, while an Internet Service Provider (ISP) will provide you with the required bandwidth you need for your premises.
The implementation and maintenance of a Wi-Fi network requires a professional, knowledgeable IT team, that is available 24/7 to manage all hardware, firmware, and software associated with the network. Understanding your needs as well as the technical requirements associated with deploying and maintaining your Wi-Fi infrastructure is also crucial to ensuring your business’ success. A Managed Wi-Fi Solutions Provider can design, configure, monitor, support, and maintain the performance health of your infrastructure and of your Wi-Fi environment in real time, relieving you of having to configure and attempt to manage the infrastructure on your own.
From an economic standpoint, a Managed Wi-Fi Solutions provider can greatly help you curb costs as well, while still allowing you to fully capitalize on all guest Wi-Fi has to offer. This applies to smaller restaurants and independents but is especially true of larger chains. Indeed, the more locations a chain has, the more economic sense it makes for them to partner with a managed Wi-Fi service provider to offset the increasing costs. Realistically, the cost of maintaining an equipment inventory or a fully trained staff at each restaurant location or even of moving them around countless locations is prohibitive for most businesses. Conversely, outsourcing to a centralized Managed Service Provider (MSP) helps spread out fixed costs among several of its customers and helps companies focus on their core activities.
Offering free Wi-Fi can leverage your business. One of the best benefits of free guest Wi-Fi in restaurants is happier customers. For guests with limited mobile data on their smartphone plan, this is a considerable incentive. However, it’s also important to realize that your Wi-Fi investment is not merely a necessary cost to secure your clientele but can also be leveraged in a variety of ways to further drive growth and revenue for the business. Wi-Fi, in fact, offers a wealth of opportunities for restauranteurs.
A captive portal can be designed to fully capitalize on your Wi-Fi investment. Purely on the commercial side of things, captive portals represent an excellent opportunity for seamless marketing since they facilitate user engagement at a critical point during their Internet experience and are a powerful medium that can be used to cater to a broad range of business needs. A captive portal also protects you by setting standards of use that a user must accept before using your free Wi-Fi, releasing you from responsibility for a guest’s irresponsible behavior online. The above highlight the importance of having a dependable Wi-Fi network on which you can rely to access precise and relevant customer data that can then be translated into actionable marketing initiatives to drive the business.
Of course, setting up your own captive portal is not a simple or inexpensive task, which is why many restaurants and chains choose to have recourse to an expert Managed Wi-Fi Solutions provider for all of their Wi-Fi needs, so they, in turn, can focus on their core business.