Historic hotels have a big competitive edge over newer properties because many travelers, wedding parties and event organizers are willing to pay a premium for the architecture and cachet that only they can provide. But historic hotels also face a big challenge: preserving those features while adding the technological amenities that their guests expect and their bottom line needs.
For example, digital signage is a must-have for applications such as wayfinding and promoting specials in the onsite restaurant. A property-wide network of surveillance cameras is key for protecting guests and staff. And then there’s Wi-Fi, which survey after survey show is one of the top amenities that business and leisure travelers look for when picking a hotel.
But installing that equipment often requires trenching marble floors, slicing into hardwood paneling and plowing through plaster, to name just a few ways that running copper and fiber compromises historic architectural features. Minimizing the impact takes more time and money, such as wallfishing cable where newer properties can just use surface-mount conduit.
These challenges are among the reasons why historic hotels such as Le Parker Meridien in Manhattan are increasingly choosing Wi-Fi to support internal and guest-facing applications such as TVs, digital signage, security and VoIP telephony. The key is choosing a Wi-Fi solution that can meet the unique requirements of not only the hospitality vertical, but also historic properties. Some examples:
- Not every Wi-Fi access point (AP) needs a cable connection to the local area network (LAN). Minimize cable runs by choosing a Wi-Fi solution that can provide fast, reliable connections even in a mesh configuration. “The APs can talk to one another to provide a wireless link between them,” says Ashish Bhatia, Senior Systems Engineer at Samsung Electronics America.
- Use wall plate APs to maximize coverage while minimizing both cabling and interference. For example, an historic hotel could install a Samsung’s WEA412h in every other, or every fourth, guest room to ensure that all of those spaces have fast, seamless Wi-Fi. This approach can provide better service than trying to cover those rooms with hallway APs, which can wind up interfering with one another, thus sapping network capacity. The WEA412h connects to standard CAT 5/6 Ethernet cable, which many guest rooms already have. For those that don’t, the WEA412h’s ability to cover multiple adjacent rooms means fewer cable pulls on each floor.
- Look for a Wi-Fi platform that can automatically adjust coverage, capacity and other parameters. For example, Samsung APs use techniques such as intelligent beamforming to meet changing needs, such as meetings. “If you have a concentration of users in a particular area, the AP can recognize that and selects an antenna pattern that best fits that,” Bhatia says. Samsung APs also can work with one another to ensure that they’re all on the right radio channels to minimize capacity-sapping interference. “It basically recognizes the RF environment and puts the AP on a channel that doesn’t interfere with other APs,” Bhatia says.
Learn more about how Le Parker Meridien is using Wi-Fi to transform its guest experience.