We have become so accustomed to the public WiFi access in airports, cafés, and major retailers. Canada got the world talking some five years ago when they announced their plans to introduce the technology across their national parks.
The North American country’s implementation may have seemed radical, but when so many of us crave constant connectivity, surely it was inevitable?
Did you know Mount Everest, the North Pole, and even a cemetery in Paducah, Kentucky all play home to a WiFi hotspot?
For businesses especially, the provision of free WiFi boasts a plethora of benefits however, sceptics would suggest that these benefits are outweighed by the costs.
This article will dispel the myths surrounding the offering of public WiFi and what it can do for the success of your company.
In years gone by, quality and price were two of the only ways businesses could differentiate themselves from their nearest competitors. Nowadays, there are a variety of alternative ways businesses can boost themselves in their relevant market, ranging from Fairtrade to, yes, you’ve guessed it, the provision of WiFi.
For the likes of lengthy commutes, although many might be persuaded into choosing the cheaper option, rail connectivity will also rank highly on many travellers reasoning for picking a particular service provider.
The customer will stay for longer
Undoubtedly, one of the biggest bonuses of offering free WiFi is that your customers will stay for longer. A study by smallbiztrends.com discovered that 62 per cent of businesses found when free WiFi was on offer, there visitors would stay for longer.
Furthermore, alongside staying longer, half were found to spend more money as well. Of course, your reasoning for offering free WiFi will hinge upon your overall goals.
For those businesses who offered it simply to enhance their customer service rating, almost 80 per cent suggested that this had been achieved. Meanwhile, from those who were providing it to translate it into sales, just under a quarter were successful in their aims.
Keeping things safe
Although opening up your WiFi to the public can present issues, carrying out a few easy steps can significantly reduce the risk involved.
Firstly, setup a hotspot gateway. By doing this, anyone logging into your WiFi will either have to enter their personal details or agree to your terms and conditions — the initial stage of security.
Following this, adding firewalls, regularly changing passwords, and hiding the router so people can’t physically connect to it helps to further enhance your security.
With the number of start-ups in the UK rapidly growing over the past number of years, so to has the need to escape the office environment, and make the standard business meeting slightly more casual.
Offering free WiFi will make your business an ideal off-site location for many companies, whether it be for their own internal teams, or for client-facing meetings — chances are, you’ll even be able to squeeze a two-course lunch out of them as well.
But it’ll slow down my network…
Yes, it will slow down your own network connection if you choose to allow your customers to connect to it. Don’t do this.
Once you’ve set up your internet connection, or if you’ve already got one, you need to set up different networks — one for you and your staff, and one for the guests.
For a café, setting aside between 2–3mb should be suffice to ensure you are able to carry out your daily tasks, such as taking card payments and sending emails— the rest can be devoted to your customers.
4 hours for a coffee?
Many businesses would be quick to presume that offering free public WiFi would result in the attraction of loiterers — those who are going to take up to four hours to slowly sip at their flat white.
Yes, this can be true however, take into consideration the times in which a tumble weed has blown passed the window and customers are far and few between— is a loitering businessman, killing two hours before a meeting, indulging in a pain au choc and a freshly-squeezed orange juice, really doing any harm?
If you’re concerned about stragglers, you can always implement a free hour-only system, which cuts off come the 60-minute mark, or requests a usage fee.
Public WiFi might have its doubters, but we are confident that it’s an essential addition to your business in 2020.