So You Are Building A Hotel – Now What?
By James Harrison, Hospitality Technology Consultant at HotelTCS
Now, while that is part of it, we know that what makes a hotel is so much more.
Bashar Wali explained to us that it's not the building that makes a hotel, but the service.
Now, this is fine for a running hotel, you have a building with all the features a hotel needs. But say you have a blank canvas? Say you are building a hotel? Now what?
Hotel Construction is something best left to the experts, and I am not one of them. However, this article will focus on the technology for a new build hotel. Specifically, the wireless technology that will have the biggest impact on the guest.
Hotel Construction Is Wireless Now
As we head into an ever more connected world, the hotel room of the future will follow. If you take nothing more away from this article than one word, let that word be cables.
With more connected devices, smaller components, and more small cell style deployments for the Internet of Things (IoT), we need more ways to connect.
Of course, this can be accomplished by Wireless Access points, using the latest WiFi6 technology. You will however, always need cables to connect them.
The number of Access points has increased greatly over the last 10 years. We are now at the point where a 200 room hotel could have upwards of 250 access points. 250 Access points that all need a cable (We discussed this more here).
Cabling is hardly revolutionary, but it's the number one take away to future proof a new build hotel.
Stand By Your Brand
To paraphrase a famous country singer, stand by your brand, by which I mean brand standards.
During hotel construction, it is wise to engage with a specialist in brand standards for the chain you select. That person though should be someone who can assist you with the future of those brand standards. Someone who knows where brand standards are heading. A hotel technology specialist.
Brand standards are an ever-evolving target. Considering the build of a hotel, from inception to opening could be 3 years plus, you need to know the direction they will take.
It would be unfortunate to find that towards the end of your project, the wireless technology needs to be ripped out due to a change in brand standards. And unfortunately, it wouldn't be the first time!
A Few Pointers For Hotel Construction
From my years as a hotel technology and brand standards expert, this is my list of considerations for WiFi During Hotel Construction.
Wireless Access Point Location And Density
I have lost count of the number of times a consultant provided me with a design that didn't meet the brand requirements for Access Point (AP) location or density.
This varies from brand to brand, but unlikely throughout sub-brands. A limited service property is an unlikely excuse for deviation from the standards.
Missing cables and closed ceilings can cause real headaches during hotel construction. For the future, the trend shows us the number of APs (or at least coverage areas) is increasing.
Wireless Access Point Technical Standard
Technology standards for access points have developed over time.
An Access Point manufactured recently could be based on a standard from 2009.
This gives only limited support for mobile devices. Many brands have now mandated minimum technical standards for Access Points. It is likely that as new standards are developed, support for older standards will be removed.
Most brands have now removed support for 802.11n access points with the release of 802.11ax (WiFi6). Don't know your 802.11n from your WiFi6? Don't worry, HotelTCS can help with that!
Wireless Coverage And Coverage Areas
Industry standards dictate signal strength and SNR. Did you know these actually vary from brand to brand? First glance might not reveal this, but they do.
While Access point density is much higher these days, we still need to assure that those corridors and corners are meeting the standard. It is unlikely that signal strength standards will change much going forward, more that the areas requiring coverage will increase.
With brands starting to mandate BOH coverage in managed hotels to support staff devices, it won't be long before this is a standard for franchisees.
My favourite analogy is the funnel and water. It's key to ensure that all parts of the network run at a speed that provides the most benefit. Think of a network bottleneck as the funnel and you can see how quickly our data (water) slows down and backs up.
While over-specifying should be avoided, many brands detail the link speed required based on area or function of the hotel. Most brands now require gigabit speeds everywhere, however, some brands mandate that the uplinks should be 10Gb.
The important consideration with this is the cabling that supports the speeds. Considering the copper and fibre cables used here during hotel construction is key for future-proofing.
A Helping Hand For Hotel Construction
Hopefully, the points above give you some clear pointers on where brand standards for WiFi may go in the coming years.
A favourite subject of mine, and one I am so passionate about, as it's an easy area to see money wasted by simple mistakes. Taking some time to review the above during your hotel construction could help keep budgets on track, and avoid any wasted time.
This article is part of our new series on Hotel Construction. In this series, we will cover topics such as TV reception, Interactive TV, content casting and IoT to name but a few.
However, the main focus here is how they impact hotel construction and design.
We hope they are of use to anyone involved in hotel construction or even design and development. Subscribe below to be notified first when the articles are available.
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With 15 years’ experience in technology, and more than half of that time dedicated to the Hospitality sector, James has a wealth of knowledge but also a millennial’s eye view. James has worked with a multitude of consultants over time, many of whom helped shape the knowledge he now brings to the table, others just reinforced the need to share his experience with others.More from James Harrison