It all started a few years ago - every single coffee shop, restaurant or retail shop offered free WiFi to customers.
The reason for the explosive growth of WiFi in restaurants, cafes and bars is simple: making the customer feel comfortable at the venue eventually will result in customers staying longer and spending more. Usually we agree, free Guest WiFi is fundamental today and the opportunities that WiFi brings to a shop are too valuable to ignore them. At the same time, it must be said that offering a free Guest Network has resulted in problems for some shop owners.
The Problem with Unlimited WiFi
When WiFi became available in businesses, loads of people used the opportunity and started working from cafés or restaurants. Working remotely became a trend as many cafés became crowded with students, remote workers and their laptops. The problem many shop owners faced was that people entered the venue, got one cup of coffee and occupied the tables for the rest of the day. Not very lucrative, as cafés and restaurants make a living by serving a large number of visitors throughout the day. Shop owners rely on people entering the shop, having a coffee and leaving again- that’s the natural coffee shop cycle. With laptops and remote work, this natural time cycle is extended and the concept of coffee shops is not as profitable anymore.
Managed Guest WiFi
So, what can you do to prevent people from abusing the free guest network at shops and hospitality venues? There are several ways to tackle that problem. First of all, we recommend shop owners to actively manage their WiFi network. There’s absolutely no point in simply sharing an open network and letting every guest hop on to use however they please. To establish a set of basic rules, we advice shop owners to set a bandwidth limit for guests. This is a very simple and basic step to take but it ensures that every user of the network gets a fair share of the WiFi. Otherwise, some people could be downloading whole movies, while leaving the rest of customers with a slow connection and a tainted experience at the venue.
Defeating the Bandwidth Hogs
Managing your guest WiFi is made incredibly easy with a suitable piece of software, like ours, BLACKBX. What it helps you to do, is spot network abuse very easily. Network abusers, so called “Bandwidth Hogs”, appear on the list of people who are logged into the network. You can spot them easily by looking out for people with the highest amount of downloaded data. These Bandwidth Hogs’ access to the network can be revoked in seconds and you can make sure no one is abusing your WiFi.
Another useful function of a managed WiFi network, is to schedule it according to the opening times of the shop. There’s no reason to keep the network up all night, right? Therefore, we suggest scheduling the network to make it turn on in the morning, when the shop opens and make it switch off again when you lock the doors and go home, as simple as that.
Hybrid WiFi Networks
For cafés and restaurants that struggle to keep their business profitable due to students and remote workers camping in the venue, we have a great solution, too. Before you kick them out immediately, why not provide a hybrid network? What this type of network does is offers free WiFi for the first 500 MegaByte (could be more or less) of data. When the free data is used, guests are asked to pay for additional data. This is a useful tool because walk-in customer still enjoy the amenity of free Guest WiFi for the duration of a cup of coffee AND the business can establish another source of income from people who stay at the venue for work and pay for any extra data they require.
Reach Out With Automated Marketing
Talking about generating more income, did you know a smart guest wifi can send out automated messages to customers? Imagine a customer orders a coffee, sits down and starts working. A smart network will realize the customer spent an hour on the network and can send out an email or an SMS to the guest and suggest him or her to get a refill. An easy way to remind customers to have another cup or to have a cupcake with their coffee.
We Can Help You Defeat the Hogs
As you can see, learning about who is using your network in what manner can be very helpful for business owners. Steps to measure, track and control what guests do on a guest network can be taken very easily with the right Software. If you are interested in spotting the Bandwidth Hogs, setting speed limits or monetizing your guest WiFi, we are happy to help you out. Simply hit the button below and get in touch!