Modern hotels have significant Internet demands. From people on holiday through to business clients and function rooms it’s now a given that if you’re in a hotel you’re going to able to connect to the network, regardless of your device or requirements.
For Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour, wireless connectivity is even more critical than with a typical hotel. The hotel is the host of choice for many airlines, with pilots and stewards having significant data demands; making use of video conferencing for keeping in touch with home plus tv and movie downloads for leisure while on a 24-hour stopover.
With over 220 rooms and five dedicated conference rooms, the hotel can also experience sharp spikes in bandwidth demands during peak hours and events. As Novotel Rockford provides wireless Internet as a bonus value-add as part of its loyalty program, the network connection has traditionally formed a critical part of its 4.5-star service.
Novotel Rockford was running into some severe challenges with the standard of its wireless connection. As an early wireless innovator, the hotel had been one of the first to offer Wi-Fi to guests and patrons, and the system that it had installed ten years ago was no longer up to the demands of modern Internet users.
Back then customer use of wireless was modest. They might check into their email account and browse the news websites when visiting, but a world before YouTube and Cloud computing made for one where it was impossible to use vast amounts of data in a short time. Now customers have multiple devices and want to stream movies, collaborate with colleagues on the other side of the planet, video conference back home and play online games. The ten year-old system was struggling to meet these kinds of demands, and it was impacting the customer experience in the hotel.
“We have a wide range of unique customer types that come to our hotel. Our corporate guests use Wi-Fi for work functions, to upload PowerPoint presentations and work remotely. We needed a functionality that can handle data quantity and speed at all times,” Peter Emery, General Manager of Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour, said.
“We were getting a lot of guest feedback telling us we needed a new solution. What we had simply was not functioning well – we were regularly experiencing blackouts, it was difficult for customers to log in, and the signal didn’t really cover the whole building.”
Emery and his team turned to Brennan IT – a trusted partner that it had been working with since 2004 – to work out a new solution to help increase customer engagement. Brennan IT recommended that Cisco Meraki cloud-based equipment be used to replace all of the aging infrastructure across the hotel. Access points were installed on each floor, and the solution was then set up to allow customers easy login access and self-service billing. In addition to affording customers an additional level of service, this immediately had the effect of saving the hotel staff time in helping customers get on to the network in the first place. Further, Brennan IT is able to remotely monitor and manage the network, provide complex reporting and proactive technical support that allows Emery’s team to tailor the service based on the customer’s need.
For example, when offering wireless as part of a corporate package, Emery is now able to limit or extend data use per customer on an as-needed basis.
“The support has been a really major benefit of this solution,” Emery said. “I can talk to Brennan IT at any time and they can proactively watch the system remotely. It’s been a very simple solution to implement – literally a changeover of technology connecting in to our node – and if an issue has ever cropped up, it’s been solved immediately.
“The solution provides easy and simple operation, and as an hotelier who doesn’t have IT expertise, that’s what I and my staff needed and will benefit from.”
In addition to being easier for the staff to manage, the Cisco Meraki solution has had an immediate beneficial impact to the hotel, both in terms of service coverage and customer response.
It’s now possible for the hotel to offer Wi-Fi connectivity to all of the rooms on its premises, preventing users experiencing the black spots they had previously encountered. Customers are already loving the service, according to Emery.
“We engage with our customers regularly and the feedback has been extremely positive. With no more dropouts they’re not losing important work or having their movies interrupted midway through, and they’re not getting frustrated with just trying to connect,” Emery said.
In other words, the Wi-Fi service of Novotel Rockford Darling Harbour is again an innovative value-add for the hotel. Furthermore, Emery expects that it is more future proof than the previous solution.
“We needed to look forward to the next ten years and make sure the system stands up for that long.”