The role of Wi-Fi in direct marketing

Hospitality establishments are constantly looking for ways to market their products and services to guests. Duncan Fraser-Smith, founder of The Cutting Edge Agency, takes a closer look at the role of WiFi in direct marketing.


Technology in food and beverage is moving forward by leaps and bounds, and yet we are missing a basic fundamental in guest satisfaction. Can you guess what it is?

A few years ago, I returned from a mixed business/holiday trip to Ubud in Bali. It is a truly amazing place where one can step back into another world while enjoying modern-day conveniences. I bring this to your attention because I was completely blown away by the level of technology available at the restaurants and hotels I visited. One thing that has stuck in my mind is that even in a small rural restaurant with no air conditioning and minimal lighting, I had free WiFi access, and it wasn’t even password protected. Within a couple of clicks I was able to download my emails.
Back in the Middle East, it has occurred to me that most recently, across several projects we have been working on, the discussion around the provision of WiFi has focused largely on how best we use this tool to gather data about our guests.

I grant you data collection is important, but the number of hoops people are asking consumers to jump through in order to just log into their computer or tablet seems a bit ridiculous to me. Technology has its place in the world, that’s for sure, but when we make the experience of logging in so complicated, it can be detrimental to our business. WiFi is a service that we all must provide, so how can we best utilize it to effectively market to
our guests?

As a result of the last 18 months, we are now, more than ever, evolving into a less contact-driven environment. When guests log into WiFi on their phones, there is an immediate opportunity to promote certain elements of our operation on the login page. It is a truly non-obtrusive marketing tool that many people want to take advantage of and a great way to convey messaging in a constructive way. This is a simple tool that allows us to potentially steer a guest’s decision-making process before a server or menu has even hit the table, and the cost to the business is virtually non-existent.

Now there are some WiFi service providers who ask the guests to like the outlets page in order to have the facility made available to them. To those I say, in addition to gathering information, use WiFi as a tool to disseminate information at the same time. A two-way street is far less daunting than a single point of data capture for a guest looking forward to a dining experience.

In the end, WiFi for business is like electricity; we use the lights to shine and highlight our menus, food and drink. With WiFi, we have the ability to do the same and believe me people want to connect with us.

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