Hospitality: How to ensure you’re connected ahead of July 4

Hoping to reopen your hospitality business as of July 4th but worried about connectivity? Here are five easy ways to get your business connected...

Andrew Bentley

26/06/2020

The last few months have been a challenging time for everyone.

Companies in every industry have been struggling with things like the sudden shift to remote work and online conversations. Consumers have reduced their spending, struggling with an absence of available income.

The recent announcement in the UK that the lockdown restrictions would soon be softening came as a massive relief to much of the country. Companies and their clients are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and the promise of a return to normalcy seems within grasp.

However, the changes taking place on July 4th come with various caveats and restrictions that businesses need to consider.

Companies can’t welcome clients on the premises like they used to. We still have various social distancing and hygiene requirements to think about.

So, how can companies from the hospitality industry prepare for this new environment?

The impact on the hospitality sector

As lockdown restrictions begin to ease in the UK, restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas, and pubs are among some of the venues that are gradually reopening. However, these organisations aren’t simply going back to “work as usual”.

Boris Johnson’s announcement has placed crucial limitations on the way that staff and customers can interact. Companies need to rethink their seating structure, their services, and how they serve their customers.

Though the government is relaxing the 2 metre distancing rule, companies still need to avoid direct interactions with customers. Businesses have been asked to conduct Covid-19 risk assessments to ensure that it’s safe to re-open their workplaces. Teams also need to adopt advanced cleaning and hygiene procedures.

Alongside guidelines like wearing a visor where possible, and using facemasks, hospitality companies have also been asked to keep a temporary record of customers. Maintaining information about customers for a period of 21 days will help to support the government’s test and trace system.

At the same time, pubs will need to keep music low to avoid prompting customers to shout, and customers will need to book in advance to get drink and food sent directly to their tables. Smartphone ordering will be the new way to get service.

Are you ready for the new landscape?

Just as the initial lockdown created problems for companies in the form of poor at-home internet connections and limited VPN security, there are challenges to overcome here too. Many hospitality businesses don’t have the best business connectivity on the market.

In rural areas particularly, it’s common for pubs and hairdressers, among other companies, to struggle with slow internet speeds and a lack of Wi-Fi. Organisations without the right access to the internet may not be able to re-open until they’re sure that their clients and employees can stay linked to the internet at all times.

When the UK first went into lockdown, it was technology that helped many businesses to continue operating. Remote work strategies with VPN systems, collaboration tools, and other updates meant that many office-based organisations could maintain operations from a distance.

Unfortunately, the majority of pubs and restaurants weren’t able to take the same approach. Hotels, libraries, community centres and more have been stuck on hold, waiting for Boris Johnson to give the announcement that they could return to work.

Now that many employees can return to the workplace, the news is bittersweet. For many organisations, the return to the workplace won’t be easy. Companies will need to start by upgrading their connectivity if they want any chance of adhering to the latest rules.

5 ways hospitality companies can thrive in July

The good news for most hospitality companies is that solutions may be available to help you make progress in this new landscape. For instance, some organisations will be able to apply for the UK government’s gigabit broadband scheme.

The team here at Nice Network has helped various companies to join the full fibre network program in recent years. The grant provides businesses with up to £2,500 against the cost of upgrading their connection as part of a group or individual project.

For those who can’t access the gigabit solution, there are some alternative solutions available:

  1. Explore new payment options: Even if your connectivity solution isn’t as reliable as it should be, you can continue to take contact-free payments. Tools like PayPal Here, powered by Vodafone, allow businesses to continue managing transactions when the internet isn’t available. The funds go straight to your PayPal account, and are protected with PayPal’s fraud management solutions.
  2. Install a signal booster: Signal boosters are an excellent solution for companies with limited connectivity. The Wi-Fi range extenders available today can help companies keep mobile devices connected. Investing in the right technology will ensure that your customers can continue to use your Wi-Fi service to place their orders through apps. Mobile signal extenders spread Wi-Fi to every corner of your venue.
  3. Set up a captive portal: With a captive portal, you can monitor everyone logged into your network. This allows for a greater level of safety and data protection for today’s businesses. Captive portals can also be a handy environment for advertising promotions and upcoming events to local individuals.
  4. Install the right security: Security solutions like Sophos, managed by Nice Network, can give you and your customers more peace of mind. It’s crucial to ensure that your people have strong protection when they’re browsing on their phones in a public place. The safer your connections are, the less likely it is that you’ll have people stealing your bandwidth, or your data.
  5. Work with a trusted partner: Working with a trusted communications and connectivity partner like Nice Network provides great peace of mind. You can rest assured that your remote support strategies will only be one click away. This means that if anything does go wrong, you can get the help you need.

Boosting Wi-Fi connectivity in a rural environment

Even before the new regulations implemented by the government for the UK reopening in July, many hospitality companies had trouble with their connectivity. Pubs, hotels, and other locations are often situated in rural areas that don’t have excellent connectivity or fibre optics.

As the world becomes increasingly digital, all companies need to ensure that they have the right strategies in place to make their connectivity strategy work. Here at Nice Network, we worked with a rural hospitality venue before lockdown to address a crucial connectivity problem.

The company was having a hard time keeping employees and staff members connected when they were moving around the premises due to poor Wi-Fi connections. At the same time, customers were complaining about a lack of internet access.

Implementing new connectivity strategies with smart Wi-Fi meant that Nice Network could solve this problem. Smart Wi-Fi allows your business router to scan automatically for the right frequencies. This means that businesses stay connected to the best internet links possible.

Using similar principles to SD-WAN, which switches calls over to different connections to ensure audio quality, Smart Wi-Fi ensures you never miss out on an opportunity.

The Smart Wi-Fi solution that we installed for our customers means that they can now monitor their network devices and ensure that they remain secure while connected. We also helped our client with implementing restricted access strategies to prevent bandwidth-heavy sites from draining their available connectivity resources.

Make sure your connection is ready

With the return to work now presenting a range of new challenges to business owners, it’s important to ensure that you have the right technology strategies in place. The only companies that will be able to survive and thrive in this new environment will be the ones with the right connections.

As Andrew Bentley from Nice Network notes: “The internet and technology have been critical tools during this COVID-19 pandemic. Initially, it was the switch to remote working and the cloud that companies needed to prepare for. Now, as employees go back to work, companies need to ensure that they have the right connections in place. Connectivity is the key to sticking to the government guidelines, and supporting both clients, and employees.”

If you need help implementing smart Wi-Fi solutions, or you want to boost your connectivity in another way, reach out to Nice network today. We’ll help you to prepare for your reopening strategy.