Submitted by: Kevin Conmy, Regional Vice President, Comcast Business

A recent survey found that free WiFi is a critical factor in a hotel guest’s decision on where to stay and his or her satisfaction with a hotel.

But many hotels are finding that simply offering WiFi is not enough to satisfy today’s consumers, who often blur the line between business and pleasure. Guests are demanding seamless connectivity and high-speeds to connect to the office, check in at the airport, research where to dine, and more. Hotels with networks that cannot keep up with peak demand face guest complaints, decreased repeat business and negative reviews.

Over the past decade, the necessary bandwidth for businesses has grown approximately 50 percent per year. The right network can also allow hospitality businesses to streamline front desk and management processes, and offer new guest services like self-service kiosks, digital check-in, or social media booking capabilities. Some hotels are taking advantage of the additional bandwidth to add even flashier perks, including iPads in suites and public spaces, or wireless card entry so guests can simply wave a card in front of their door instead of fumbling with the right way to insert one.

While upgrading networks used to be a pricey and often complex proposition, the arrival of Ethernet and fiber over coax technologies have made things far more simple and cost-effective. Capital expenses are extremely low with Ethernet, but the real savings comes from the ability to scale up or down quickly and easily. This is especially attractive for the hospitality industry that inherently experiences peaks and dips based on the calendar.

In addition to cost savings, speed and superior reliability – which can all be further strengthened with a redundant network – there are a number of other benefits that come with Ethernet, including:

• Security — Ethernet services are immune to certain Internet-based threats, such as the popular IP denial of service attacks.

• Quality of Service (QoS) — Ethernet services run over the provider’s managed network, resulting in better control, more predictable performance and more service availability. Believe it or not, the vast majority of telecom providers operate over another provider’s fiber lines. In other words, although customers may be under contract with one company, they are actually using the lines of another. If an outage does occur, going to the customer’s provider may not resolve the problem, since there is now an extra step involved in the process.

• IP transparency — Ethernet services don’t require IP routing information to be shared with the service provider, enabling companies to keep their existing IP address with freedom to expand.

Guests have made it clear what they want, and it’s not free breakfast buffets anymore. Upgrading a hotel’s network can improve both the customer and employee experience, save money and aggravation, and make it possible to add exciting new amenities to keep guests coming back again and again.