Since Macdonald Hotels & Resorts was established in 1990, the world has changed dramatically.
Where once, guest requirements were largely focused on a comfortable room, the nature of modern life has altered those expectations.
A core goal of any hotel or resort is to provide a home-from-home experience to guests.
The modern guest is a constantly connected one, almost certain to bring at least one mobile device with them for their stay.
This is a world where 61% of UK adults own a smartphone and 57% of people regularly use mobile internet from such devices.
A recent survey by ESET demonstrated the importance of good WiFi in hotels with more than a third of Brits saying they base their hotel choice on WiFi.
“More and more guests see free, reliable internet access as a crucial part of their hotel visit and if we are going to ensure we’re delivering the service they want, we need to respond to that expectation,” explained Stuart Garrick, IT Director at Macdonald Hotels.
“At Macdonald Hotels & Resorts, we welcome a wide range of guests but they all need to be connected quickly and securely. Whether that’s holiday makers using social media to share snaps, business travelers who want to catch up on emails or conference organisers who need to enable delegates to access the internet during events.”
Booking in the Cloud:
In 2013, with a view to adapting its hotels and resorts to the demands of the constantly connected guests, Macdonald Hotels approached leading WiFi provider The Cloud to provide high-speed internet connection across its UK venues.
The Cloud was chosen based on its experience in the hospitality sector with a portfolio of 1,250 hotels including Marriott and Crowne Plaza venues across 13 European countries.
This is alongside the WiFi provider’s network of more than 22,000 hotspots across the UK covering high-footfall locations including M&S, Network Rail stations and PizzaExpress.
The WiFi was launched in October 2013 and saw free, unlimited internet access made available across all UK Macdonald Hotels covering public hotel areas including bars and restaurants, meeting rooms and all bedrooms.
“It was important that we partnered with a trusted WiFi provider and The Cloud’s experience speaks for itself,” added Stuart Garrick.
“This was not a phased installation. We allocated a certain timeframe to make the WiFi available and reliable across all areas of our hotels, which is no small feat. In less capable hands, there could have been impact on guests – from patchy WiFi connection on initial installation to physical disruption when installing the infrastructure itself. But The Cloud understood the need to minimise impact and ensure the service was installed quickly and could immediately begin serving our guests.”
Since installation, Macdonald Hotels has been able to offer its guests fast, free and secure internet connection.
This has improved the experience of staying at Macdonald Hotels, adding to the service on offer and ensuring the mobile-led public is catered for.
Roll-out was fast and without any problems, which meant guests could instantly begin using the WiFi – accessing online services such as media streaming, social media and email.
The service also allows Macdonald Hotels to promote its restaurants and spas via the WiFi landing page.
In the 12 months since implementation was completed, an average number of 92,932 mobile devices are accessing the WiFi network each month.
More than 487 million minutes have been spent online with guests spending, on average, just over 2 hours online per session.
Usage is also increasing. Between April 2014 and September 2014, Macdonald Hotels saw 37% more devices accessing the network.
“We’re delighted with the take-up and are equally happy with the way the WiFi network has performed,” said Stuart Garrick.
“We knew it would be a popular service but speaking to our guests, it’s clear that it has truly added to the experience of staying at, or simply visiting, our venues. In hospitality, we are constantly battling rival venues and seeking to set ourselves apart. The ability to get online is now often as important to our guests as getting a good night’s sleep. With The Cloud in place, we know we are offering the very best service to the modern guest.”