The IT Blog for SMEs

WiFi can make your business more attractive

Providing WiFi for your customers can improve footfall, social media engagement and, as a direct result, turnover. In this article we explore how to choose and implement the right solution, what to look out for and how to get the biggest return for a modest investment.

 

Branding

Your guest WiFi system should give you the opportunity to reinforce your brand and promote your business (menus, special offers, upcoming events, etc.). Make sure that the solution you choose can be customised with YOUR branding, not the supplier's.

The ideal solution should promote your venue in three ways:

  • Wireless network name: Trust is everything for WiFi users: choose a system that lets you use a wireless network name (SSID) that your customers will recognise and trust as being provided by you. A network name of "CoffeeHeavenWifi" gives a customer greater reassurance than "BTWiFi-783635". 
  • Captive Login Page: Before allowing customers to access your venue's internet connection, you should force them through a login page. This may be as simple a process as acknowledging your terms and conditions, or may involve some kind of login process (see below for options). Either way, the login page should promote your brand, not that of your WiFi supplier. The login page is also a good place to show customers your standard menu, images of your signature dishes / drinks, special offers, etc. 
  • Landing Page: Once the user has "logged in" to your WiFi network, it should be possible to route them to a web page of your choosing. Traditionally, this would be your venue's website, but one alternative that should be considered is your Facebook business page, where you can invite customers to "Like", "Follow" or "Check In". By engaging with your customers in this way, they are more likely to promote your venue to their friends via Facebook.

 

Customer Login, Permissive Marketing and Corporate Responsibility

By providing WiFi to your customers, you are satisfying their desire to stay connected to their friends. However, it's YOUR internet connection that they are using and you have a level of corporate responsibility for what happens via that internet connection. For example, if a customer were to try to hack into the FBI database while enjoying a beer or two, you would need to demonstrate that it's not an activity that you condone!

For this reason, you should ensure that your customers can't access your WiFi network without some positive acknowledgement on their part, i.e. a captive login process. There are a number of different ways of doing this:

  • a simple Terms and Conditions of Usage page, where the customer simply ticks a box or clicks an "Accept" button in order to use the venue's WiFi network. So long as the Ts & Cs state what is / isn't acceptable behaviour AND you can demonstrate that it's impossible for anyone to access your WiFi without acknowledging your Ts & Cs, you've done as much as is reasonably possible. (We can provide template Ts & Cs to all our WiFi customers, if required).
  • a personal information collection page, where the customer provides their name, email address, mobile phone number, etc. This should also include terms and conditions (or a link to a page containing Ts & Cs) and a marketing "opt-in" box that gives their permission for you to contact them with promotions, etc. This is the most intrusive method and is likely to put off a number of people - or prompt them to provide false information. (You may find that "Mr M Mouse" is a frequent visitor!)
  • a voucher / password page, where the customer must obtain a unique voucher number from a member of staff in order to be able to connect to the WiFi. This ensures that only YOUR customers are given the privilege of access, not the people in the bar / restaurant next door! (In order to prevent abuse and protect revenues, some venues may choose to give a voucher free with a meal, for example, but charge a nominal fee if the customer only orders a drink).

Whichever login method you choose, make sure it's YOUR branding that the customer sees and make it simple for them to use. 

 

Promotion. Promotion. Promotion.

Many of your competitors already provide WiFi to their customers. You didn't know that? No - neither do their customers!

For some reason, a lot of bars, restaurants and coffee shops invest in the technology needed to provide guest WiFi - and then don't actually TELL their customers. If you're going to install a customer WiFi solution, make sure you:

  • promote the fact on your website, Facebook page, menus, blackboard, table literature, etc.
  • let customers know what network name they should connect to (especially if you're in a city centre with lots of networks around!)
  • provide simple instructions on how to connect - even if it all seems simple to you
  • ask customers to Like, Follow and Check-In to your venue on Facebook. After all, why should you do all the marketing yourself?

Don't let your WiFi become your venue's best-kept secret.

 

Benefits (and Downsides) of WiFi

Offering WiFi to your customers can easily result in increased sales. Not only are you encouraging customers to stay longer, but you may also begin to attract business customers during normally quiet periods - those wanting somewhere quiet to catch up with emails between meetings or even to hold meetings with potential customers. The benefits are obvious.

But how do you prevent customers - those who can make a coffee last for hours - from abusing your hospitality?

The answer is simple: choose a WiFi system that has been specifically designed for the hospitality market! Such a system will allow you to set a time limit for guest access to the network - 30 minutes, for example - after which the customer will be disconnected. If your policy is to provide 30 minutes WiFi with every purchase, you will likely find that customers either leave after that period or purchase another drink, in which case spend increases as a result! Alternatively, you may wish to give customers access to the WiFi network free of charge for the first hour, with the option to pay a fee thereafter, regardless of any food or drinks purchase they make. It's YOUR venue and it's up to you how you make your money.

 

Explore the Options

If we've given you food for thought (pun intended) about providing WiFi for your customers, why not call us to discuss your requirements. We have 15 years of experience and can provide a range of wireless network solutions designed specifically for the hospitality industry. Better still, our prices start at under £100 for a fully-managed state-of-the-art solution - we look after the system while you concentrate on running your business.

 

Contact us today to discuss your wireless network needs.

 

Image credit: Vinu Thomas, Flickr Creative Commons