These days many consumers, restaurants and retail establishments have adopted the use of WiFi or Free WiFi hotspot services to their customers in the greater Toronto area. While offering free WiFi and mobile hotspot services to your customers is a must and a necessity in the mind of the consumer. A recent study & survey was conducted in the streets of Toronto to see how many consumers of the ages between 17yrs of age & 65 years of age would expect a retail or restaurant establishment to have free WiFi services. Age groups between 17rs and 45yrs reported a 90% yes or agreed that offering a Free hotspot service is a must for any type of hospitality environment. Group ages between 46yrs and 65yrs of age reported a 70% yes it should be offered and a 30% no/doesn’t matter response.
With the retail and restaurant establishments who currently offer a free WiFi system run into a number of challenges and security implementations that the USA and Candiangovernment . These governments are looking to put strict polies on offering free WiFi services. Many organizations who are providing “Free Hotspot Zones” should follow certain security restrictions of not allowing their customers to browse certain restricted websites. This is usually offered by hosting a controller type of environment that has the capabilities of content filtering.
Another topic that always comes up is when offering a social WiFi solution or free WiFi zone is how do you control the amount of data each user is using? Two solutions can usually be presented to a customer by most VARS or technology vendors. The first is to have the technology vendor provide them with a soft solution or software based content filtering and bandwidth limited application that integrates with their current hardware. You can view a sample video of a well-known technology solutions provider www.connectsim.ca . This software solution is probably the most cost effective solution as there is no need to purchase multiple hardware products to deploy a social WiFi hotspot offering. The offering is cloud based with the hardware. The social wifi application is usually hosted as well. This helps the small/medium business owner as this eliminates the need to have an onsite IT staff. The majority of retail and restaurant establishments shouldn’t have to manage or engage in any type of technical needs for the WiFi social offering.
The second solution to start a social WiFi offering is to purchasethe additional hardware from a technology vendor and not have to worry about additional costs of licenses and monthly fees. The only additional monthly fees you would need to maintain are the hosted monthly social WiFi fee which ranges between $25cad/month and up to $50cad/month depending on features you require. Based on our knowledge and from what the majority of restaurants and retail stores are following is that they are mostly selecting a managed service offering and not choosing the route of purchasing their own hardware. When trying to manage your own hardware a restaurant owner will have to worry about compatible hardware with the hotspot social WiFi application. The costly maintenance contract for the hardware, the firmware updates on the access point and many more costs that are involved.
Many restaurants in the greater Toronto area are choosing companies such as Connectsim.ca to manage their wireless, licenses and anything related to their social wifi campaigns. We approached Connectsim at a local restaurant trade show to ask them the typical costs to start a campaign with them and how long a typical contract runs. From our quick 10 minute conversation with Connectsim their mid Social WiFi package starts at around $500/month with a 12 year commitment. What this includes was the following ;
Splash Page - A custom designed landing page with your logo and coupon offering when customers log onto your Free social WiFi network.
Free Wireless Zone Plan - Includes a WiFi network diagram of a wireless heat map that shows the type of coverage you would receive for your customers. You must provide a diagram of your facility. Wireless Router - Includes one of their basic wireless routers that covers a space of about 800 sq ft. Optional upgrade.
Signage- Includes a 33”x80” custom design retractable banner that displays a “Free WiFi Zone” and some other offerings or specials you might want your customers to see on the banner.
Advertising Banner Flag or 3’x8’ vinyl Banner - The advertising flag is a great concept especially for restaurants as it’s an attractive flying feather banner that really grabs the attention of your customers.
Stickers - Free WifiZone stickers with your SSID so customers know how to connect.
Corporate Branded Pens - 50 logo branded pens.
High Quality Coasters - Up to 12 free high quality glossy coasters each with your logo and twitter/Facebook/LinkedIn icons to show they can sign in with their social WiFi media account. Corporate Design Package - Includes a menu restaurant design while on each page has a “Free WiFi Zone” connection symbol. Prints are an additional upgrade.
Coupon Campaign -Connectsim.ca will manage your Facebook page for the year by sending out 2 coupon campaigns to your Facebook followers. They design a coupon and wait for approval from the customers end prior to engaging your customers.
Splash Page Change Management- Includes the opportunity to change your splash page twice a year. Although we think twice a year is not enough as you would want to offer more incentives to your WiFi users on your offerings. A great splash page we’ve seen at a local restaurant was when the customer landed on the splash page “It said every Tuesday the first 20 tables receive a complimentary draft beer of their choice”. In turn this had the restaurant company’s twitter and facebook followers to post and retweet these message to their existing friends. A great marketing concept.
The restaurant also ran another splash page design that offered the first 20 tables receive a voucher for their kids under 10 to eat for free. When speaking to the owner of this company they mentioned “Since we’ve installed our new social WiFi campaign our sales have grown by 30%, it keeps our customers informed and creates a great bond between our Facebook& twitter followers.
Learn more here on Social WiFi Analytics.
Preventive Maintenance - Connectsim’s technicians will perform a preventive maintenance to make sure there are no interference signals that could be interrupting users on the WiFi network.
Content & bandwidth Filtering - Their team will add specific content filtering to your network and will limit the amount of bandwidth each user uses in your environment. This is extremely useful as old WiFi zone providers didn’t have a limit on bandwidth.