Essential tips for providing WiFi in pubs and bars

Everyone in the hospitality trade knows that the online age has brought with it plenty of challenges. With people spending more time socializing in the virtual world than the real one, it can be a challenge to get customers in through the door. When you do, you might assume the last thing they want to be doing is going online, as they settle down to enjoy some old fashioned social interaction in the real world.

In short, you’d be wrong. A recent industry survey found that some 70 percent of pubgoers say WiFi makes for a more enjoyable experience and that its availability is a factor in deciding where to go. The message is clear – if you want to get bums on seats, WiFi is more than just a “nice to have.” Here are some tips for providing what the customers want in the virtual age.

Don’t stint on the equipment

Unless you’re operating an old fashioned single-bar back street local, a domestic-style router just isn’t going to cut the mustard. Invest in a proper router that is going to have the required capacity when the place is packed out on a Friday night. Going pro doesn’t have to break the bank. There are perfectly capable products out there from big name brands like Cisco and Google that will not even run into three figures. 

As well as providing a better experience for the customers, having good quality equipment means you and your staff will not be spending half your time acting as IT troubleshooters when your regulars are desperate to check Facebook or visit UK site to check out the best online deals. 

Create a captive portal

The above example of a casino site was not an idle one. People use the internet for all sorts of purposes, and some sites carry restrictions, for example being available only to those above a certain age. The last thing you want to be doing is policing the internet, but you also don’t want to restrict customers from legitimately visiting sites like casinos or bookmakers. 

A captive portal is an elegant way of placing the responsibility on the user. It’s that opening screen you see when you log on in a supermarket or airport that outlines the terms of use and makes you specifically acknowledge and accept them before being let loose on the world wide web. The other benefit of a captive portal is that it provides a great platform for advertising your latest promotions or forthcoming events.

Consider a wireless mesh

In a larger establishment, in particular, there are always going to be areas where the signal gets patchy. A clever way to ensure everyone has a strong signal is by installing a wireless mesh. This consists of several wireless access points (WAPs) that deliver the signal around the building. It’s the same principle as having speakers dotted around the premises so that everyone can hear the music. Again, the cost is not as much as you might think, and it will almost certainly prove to be an investment that boosts customer satisfaction and ultimately, your bottom line. 

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