In today’s society, free Wi-Fi is something we take for granted. It is as expected – and as necessary – for customers as free bathroom facilities and free water – can you imagine the complaints if you were denied either of these? It’s now the same for Wi-Fi access.
Providing internet connectivity is nothing new but the way public Wi-Fi is delivered has changed – it started with plug-in internet cafés and has since progressed into free Wi-Fi access. What customers expect has also changed – today there is the need for increased cyber security as well as excellent quality of service – no-one wants the promise of free Wi-Fi when staying at a hotel to find it is only available in the lobby area!
Installing a dedicated ‘Guest Network’ is one way to deliver good public Wi-Fi. Many studies have shown that it’s a very important part of a client’s decision-making and certainly for clients in the service industry, getting it right is imperative.
What is a Guest Network?
A Guest Network is exactly what it says – a network that is separate to any other network that may already exist. By installing a Guest Network you retain security, privacy and control of your own business network and any devices that run off it.
To understand more, it helps if we break it down:
‘Guest’: this isn’t the person who is visiting your business, it’s the device they bring with them. This includes your staff, any tradesman who is doing work at your premises, even you yourself. A ‘Guest’ device could be anything and used for any purpose.
‘Network’: everything that runs on Wi-Fi typically merges into one giant network. That network can be split into different parts: for example, your office computers could be on a different network to those in the reception or public areas.
Why should you consider a Guest Network?
A Guest Network can bring a number of benefits to your business. Of course, these will vary depending on your situation, but here are the key ones:
1. Customer expectation and satisfaction
In many ways, Guest Wi-Fi is like having facilities to make tea or coffee – it’s expected. Every business wants to attract and retain clients; you want them to keep coming back time and time again, refer you to others and leave you great reviews. Having a good Guest Network may not be the deciding factor in whether someone does business with you, but it certainly makes a good impression.
2. Practicality and convenience
Information and services are, more often than not, provided over the internet. You can use your Guest Network to allow your guests access to information about your business when they need it. They may be wondering how to get somewhere, what time your business opens, how to contact you – with a Guest Network, a client can answer these questions themselves, saving them and you time.
3. Security for you and your guests
Guest Networks come with added security features that mean you don’t have to worry about who is visiting your business or what they may be doing on their laptops. Having a separate Guest Network means that external users do not have access to your business network – this protects you from any viruses or malware that may be on their devices and also prevents them from accidentally (or intentionally) accessing your data.
4. You control usage
With a Guest Network, you can decide how much bandwidth to allow your guests to use. This means you can protect the amount of internet access your own business needs to operate. You can also block or restrict access to services or websites on a Guest Network so that you and your guests are protected.
5. It gives a professional image
One feature of a Guest Network is the Captive Portal – this is the website you see when you first connect to Free or Public Wi-Fi networks. On here, you can show your logo, Terms and Conditions or Fair Use Policies to people who want to use your service.
This creates a professional appearance that you just don’t get if you write the Wi-Fi password on the whiteboard or a scrap of paper. It also reinforces that it’s your Wi-Fi that the guest is connecting to, and not someone else pretending to be you. That will give your guests the reassurance that you take their security and privacy seriously – a big thumbs up in getting good reviews and feedback.
Who should consider having a guest network?
Guest Networks aren’t just for big hotels, cafés and restaurants. They are just as useful for home usage, say when you have people to stay or friends round for dinner. Rather than searching high and low for that long-winded password to give to your guests, then having to reset it all afterwards, it’s much more convenient to have a Guest Network that they can easily connect to.
Would a Guest Network work for me?
There’s only one thing worse than not providing guest Wi-Fi – that’s providing bad Guest Wi-Fi!
So, to do it right you need:
- Enough bandwidth to support your usage and that of your clients.
- To make sure the cap is high enough if your Data Plan is capped.
- To allow good coverage so that guests aren’t restricted to certain areas.
What can you do now?
Some routers include a feature so you can automatically create Guest Networks. Start by reviewing your existing equipment to see if it supports this option, which you can then easily enable.
Installing a Guest Network is just one of the many services that could persuade a potential client to do business with you. It gives a professional quality to your business and shows that you take internet security seriously. It’s also a really convenient way to allow people to stay connected while on your premises – and customer satisfaction – whether it’s online or IRL – is a very powerful tool indeed.