We’ve all been there. A restaurant may advertise free guest Wi-Fi, but if you sit at a corner table or enjoy the patio, that Wi-Fi just won’t reach you. And this isn’t the only way guest Wi-Fi can fail in a restaurant.
If you manage a restaurant, you’ve seen just how much people use their phones, even when eating and drinking. Helping customers get online is not just good hospitality – it’s good business. But if you don’t set up guest Wi-Fi correctly, you fail on both counts.
Here are just some ways a restaurant can fail their Wi-Fi setup before they get a chance to hang a Wi-Fi sign in the window – and ways to ensure you set-up your guest Wi-Fi effectively.
Underestimate the number of Wi-Fi access points you need
Remember that anecdote about not being able to reach Wi-Fi? That can happen to your customers for many reasons such as:
- Too few access points (APs) for the size of your space
- Obstacles between APs may prevent clean signals
- You aren’t using mesh technology, in which APs relay device communications from other APs as needed (this means the network offers more than one path from a connected device to the Internet, which makes mesh networks a reliable strategy for eliminating Wi-Fi “dead zones” in your restaurant)
There’s no cookie-cutter solution for every restaurant, so have your needs evaluated by an Expert Managed Wi-Fi Solutions Provider that can help you ensure an optimized Wi-Fi setup, and in turn, a seamless Wi-Fi coverage throughout your venue
Keep the Wi-Fi network public
One of the considerations when you're setting up your Wi-Fi is whether to go with a private of public network. Running an unsecured network is never a good idea. Malicious users may try to damage devices using your network – either those of your restaurant or your customers. The security risk simply just isn’t worth it.
Neither is having a password-secured network, forcing customers to ask your employees for the network password each time someone wants access. In either scenario, users may overload the network using bandwidth-heavy activity like streaming video or downloading large files.
Instead, have customers handle their own secure access by using a captive portal.
A captive portal, often called a splash page, is the first thing customers see when they connect to your guest Wi-Fi network. It usually asks for a name and email address (or social media account info) in exchange for guest Wi-Fi access. The customer device is now identifiable, and the customer, conveniently, doesn’t need to sign in again during the next visit. Captive portals go a long way towards ensuring a successful Wi-Fi experience for all your patrons.
Neglect marketing possibilities
When customers connect to a restaurant network that does not welcome them using a captive portal, the restaurant owner knows nothing about that person beyond the device MAC address.
Captive portals and splash pages, as discussed above, not only help ensure an easy and seamless Wi-Fi access for your guests, but also offer businesses a wealth of advantages.
Captive portals require guests to enter their contact information – email addresses, social network IDs, and that information can then be used to support a range of automated marketing opportunities.
- Have the captive portal send the diner’s contact information to the restaurant’s CRM, mailing list software, or any other system that would benefit from a cache of customer information
- Have marketing software send clients notifications and promotions
- Invite customers to opt in for information on special events and offers
- Invite customers to join your social network groups
- Once a restaurant knows its customers, the marketing possibilities are limited only by the restaurateur’s imagination (and applicable laws, of course)
Don’t interact with customers
A plain-Jane guest Wi-Fi network enables customers to connect to all sorts of people - except the people working behind the counter, in this situation, the restaurant can’t build relationships with its patrons.
A captive portal gives customers opportunities to connect and interact with the restaurant. That interaction can drive repeat business, so consider tactics like the following:
We mentioned this above, but it’s worth repeating – invite customers to follow restaurant social media accounts like Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.
Invite patrons to play trivia and other games where they interact with each other
Tell customers about these benefits, and not just on the captive portal splash page
- Advertise them in your menus
- Print them on receipts
- Put them on the walls, your advertising, anywhere customers are likely to look
Set it up yourself
Home network equipment from your local electronics outlet is simple enough to set up. However, guest Wi-Fi costs go well beyond acquisition and installation. Consider lifecycle costs like:
- regular upgrades
Then, of course, there are all the Wi-Fi based business improvement possibilities mentioned throughout this post. Are you ready to handle all this work? Do you have what it takes to automate any of this, to lower the total cost of ownership of your guest Wi-Fi while having it improve revenues?
Do you have the know-how to set up, maintain and monetize a guest Wi-Fi network? If you don’t, that network becomes, at best, a cost center instead of a marketing tool. At worst, it’s a security threat to both your business and your customers.
HOW NOT TO FAIL YOUR WI-FI SETUP
An expert Managed Wi-Fi Solutions Provider on the other hand, will analyze your unique needs and design a network that meet your exact business needs and goals - will handle your entire Wi-Fi setup, enhance the user experience for your guests, employees and visitors, as well as provide full network real time monitoring. A fool-proof way to ensure your guest Wi-Fi is a success!