By Business Reporter
Wi-Fi accessibility and connectivity is pivotal to ensuring a top quality tourist experience, while sustaining and enhancing the sector, AfricaOnline Namibia General Manager, Marc Gregan, has said.
Namibia is known globally as a top ecotourism destination, and the entire sector is growing by 5 percent year-on-year, in terms of international traffic to the country.
After mining, tourism is the second largest contributor to Namibia’s Gross Domestic Product, with 20 percent of formal employment directly related to the sector.
Gregan noted that connectivity is integral to the whole travel process, from pre-trip planning and booking, to check-in processes and online access at departing airports.
Airlines are now even beginning to offer Wi-FI access during flights, while connectivity at hotel destinations has critical become, as tourists were eager to share their holiday snaps with friends and family, said Gregan.
He said that sharing was happening more often at the actual holiday destination, thus increasing connectivity requirements at hotels for photo sharing, video Skype calling and more.
“Free Wi-Fi is the most cited hotel amenity request in multiple surveys across the world, whereby lack of it is considered a deal-breaker, and tourists will look for an alternative hotel.
“The latest tourism statistics indicate that German tourists stay an average 19-25 days in the country. These tourists have high expectations of connectivity, in terms of service speed, quality and overall experience, and typically want the service to be free at their hotel,” said Gregan.
“This means that hotels and the hospitality industry need to invest more in ICT, to match the guest expectation and overall experience.”
Gregan further stressed that hotels should focus on Wi-Fi as a valued guest amenity, rather than an extension of an establishment’s IT operation.
This, according to Gregan, may mean an extra investment in IT support staff for after-hour troubleshooting, and extending or improving coverage, to requested guest areas.
The hospitality sector is a 24/7 service-orientated business and the provision of Wi-Fi is no different, yet often the service staff lack the requisite skills, he said.
“Hotels need to assess how much bandwidth capacity is required for a typical guest usage pattern for its holidaymakers or business travellers, taking into account that the average traveller will have three Wi-Fi-enabled devices, and may use all of them during peak periods.
“Hotels can also consider adopting a new trend for a hybrid model of basic free Wi-Fi for all guests, to enable access to email and browsing, and a premium or tiered paying model for faster speed requirements and video downloads.
“This also highlights that managing and monitoring the hotel guest Wi-Fi is a definite necessity, to ensure consistency in service delivery and to eliminate any potential abuse. “Even basic monitoring, by MAC address duration on the network, will help eliminate non-guest usage, where the access password to a free Wi-Fi service is being used by unauthorised users,” Gregan added.
AfricaOnline is a member of the iWayAfrica group of companies, and is owned by Gondwana International Networks.
It took its first steps on the road to the future in August 1999, when it was known as MWEB Namibia. AfricaOnline has established itself as one of the leading ISP’s in Namibia, offering uncompromising service delivery and support over the past 15 years.
AfricaOnline offers comprehensive products and services to the home and corporate markets.
Products include WiMax, leased lines, MPLS, ADSL, VSAT, 4G LTE, hosting, mail services, domains and disaster recovery, to name a few.
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