Beyond convenience for customers, the benefits of free guest Wi-Fi can potentially far outweigh the costs – and could even help a business to identify new opportunities to tap into a whole new revenue stream.
Know and serve your customers better
It’s not uncommon for businesses to offer free Wi-Fi by simply chalking the password on the menu board or handing it out to customers when they ask. However, this can be a massive missed opportunity (as well as a security risk, which we’ll come to later).
Instead, there are specific services available – such as Telstra Air Merchant® – that provide a more professional Wi-Fi experience for customers while also making it easier for a business to capture useful data and learn more about their customers.
If you’ve ever connected to the Wi-Fi network in a hotel, your browser probably took you to a branded login page where you would enter your account or room details to access the internet. A guest Wi-Fi service can work in a similar way, presenting the customer with a branded page containing one or more options for how to get internet access.
For example, one convenient and popular way for customers is to log in with Facebook. This is not only quick and easy for many people but can also provide your business with aggregated accessible demographic information – so that you can start to form a picture of who your customers are.
Alternatively, you could exchange internet access for completion of a simple survey, giving you valuable feedback on your products and services.
This page also gives you the chance to share personalised offers, invite newsletter sign-ups or promote your social media channels (and some Wi-Fi services will integrate easily with email marketing list providers like Mailchimp).
Become a co-working space
Cafés, restaurants and pubs routinely struggle with the ebb and flow of clientele. Certain times of the day seem almost guaranteed to be busy, but there can also be long quiet stretches in between. However, some businesses are beginning to use their free tables, coffee menu and reliable Wi-Fi to attract a different clientele during their quieter periods – creating a secondary revenue stream at the same time by becoming a co-working space.
In the US, Spacious.com partners with restaurants and cafés to sell co-working memberships to professionals looking for places to meet and work in surroundings less formal (and expensive) than an office and similar schemes are popping up in major cities around the world. This sort of service is particularly attractive for freelancers and work-from-home professionals who may need a venue to conduct client meetings, or simply require the change of scenery to stay connected to the outside world.
Whether you partner with a membership service similar to Spacious or manage your own co-working space, a reliable and professional Wi-Fi service is essential.
Stay in control of customer Wi-Fi access and usage
Of course, giving out the password to your business broadband gateway to anyone who asks is a security risk. A tech savvy customer with your password has the keys to your gateway and can change your configurations. Securing your business could mean separating your own network from guest Wi-Fi.
A Wi-Fi service like Telstra Air Merchant® allows eligible Telstra Fixed Broadband customers to control customer Wi-Fi access and usage. However, you still need to ensure you have plenty of bandwidth to cope with multiple customers using the internet simultaneously. Being known as the place with the rubbish Wi-Fi will undermine your whole guest Wi-Fi marketing plan.
Far from merely a customer freebie, a professional guest Wi-Fi setup coupled with the right strategy can deliver value back to your business in multiple ways. Are you ready to connect?
*Originally published March 16th 2018. Updated March 22nd 2019.