In its State of Wi-Fi report, Ubiquiti Networks, a multinational provider of innovative and affordable wireless technology, surveyed 1000 respondents in order to gauge consumer feelings towards Wi-Fi in America. The survey found that 78 percent of working professionals say their need for high performance Wi-Fi often influences their choice of hotels, restaurants and other businesses. It also showed that restaurants and coffeehouses are the second top choice of where respondents want better Wi-Fi, right behind hotels.
As billions of connected devices (smartphones, tablets, PCs) continue to be shipped worldwide, the hospitality industry will experience an increased demand for better Wi-Fi by dining patrons. The mobile workforce is especially dependent on Wi-Fi access in order to respond to email, download files or check their itinerary. Even when dining in groups, it is common for patrons to eat while surfing the web on their tablets and smartphones.
And research shows that if Wi-Fi isn’t provided, customers may move elsewhere. According to the Journal of Foodservice Business Research’s in-depth academic study, “The Impact of Wi-Fi Service in Restaurants on Customers’ Likelihood of Return to a Restaurant,” providing Wi-Fi service at restaurants is positively correlated with a customer’s intention to return to a restaurant.
Some may wonder why all the fuss now when connectivity is often provided by mobile carriers. With today’s limited mobile data plans that charge based on the amount of data used, people prefer that restaurants offer courtesy Wi-Fi over using their own cellular connections while dining out. There is also the matter of tablets, many of which can only connect via Wi-Fi.
Clearly as consumers, travelers and working professionals become more dependent on their mobile devices, restaurants and cafes worldwide are going to have to offer Wi-Fi in order to remain competitive. But not just any Wi-Fi.
Due to the influx of new, bandwidth-hungry wireless devices and apps used by patrons, restaurants should consider deploying 802.11ac, the latest wireless networking standard.
With this next generation of Wi-Fi, users experience the speed and reliability of a wired connection with enough bandwidth to support multiple wireless devices.That means that even during restaurant rush hours, patrons can simultaneously work through lunch, access social media, and surf the web without the lag of an outdated wireless network.
Of course, the strength of a restaurant will always depend on great food and service. But in an increasingly mobile world, Wi-Fi connectivity is a service many diners are beginning to expect.
By David Hsieh, chief marketing officer of Ubiquiti Networks, a communications technology company.