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Free Wi-Fi or charge for Wi-Fi is the question to answer

Posted by Kyle Smith on 5th Jan 2015

As the world of technology continues to grow and change so should you restaurant apparently. After Burger King announced that they would be offering free WIFI to their customers Technomic Inc. started gathering data. Their data concluded that 65 percent of quick-service restaurants' customers expected for them to offer free access to Wi-Fi. Some of the current restaurant chains that offer free Wi-Fi are Mcdonalds, Burger King, Starbucks, Wendys, and Taco Bell. However, what about your restaurant? Should you or should you not offer Wi-Fi? This blog will help give you a small glimpse into some of the questions you might ask.

There are some major benefits and some major concerns to consider when thinking about offering Wi-Fi. Depending on how well you keep up with the news you see that people and businesses all over are getting information “hacked” from information stored online. Some of these include: Jennifer Lawrence, Kim Kardashian, JP Morgan Chase, PF Changs, and Diary Queen. Therefore, a major concern with free Wi-Fi needs to be that you keep your industry network completely separate from your customer network. In keeping the networks separate it will also allow your business network to not be slowed down by the customer traffic.

Some of the benefits to consider is that you can get more marketing. Your customers posting pictures or messages from your establishment do part of the marketing. The other side of the marketing campaign is yours to complete. If you post via social media and signs in your windows that you are one of the only establishments that offer Wi-Fi you will bring in more customers. Also, by offering Wi-Fi it will cause your customers to stay on the premises for longer. In theory if a customer stays longer they will buy more product. Another fact to consider is that Wi-Fi is not going anywhere anytime soon. It has been around for at least a decade now.

The main question that I continued to come across in my research for this blog is whether or not you offer free Wi-Fi or you charge for it. Some research suggests that you let it be free like Panera Bread Company. The theory behind that is that the customer will buy more products while they sit there. Other research suggests that you charge for it. Other restaurants like Starbuck’s charges per hour via AT&T for customers to use their Wi-Fi. The theory behind this strategy is that will keep customers from “over staying their welcome”. If you charge for Wi-Fi then customers will stay for a certain amount of time versus camping at a table all day.

Deciding whether or not your restaurant should offer Wi-Fi seems like a fairly easy question to answer to me. However, deciding to charge or not to charge is the question you will have to answer for you establishment.

Resources:

http://nrn.com/technology/customer-wi-fi-win-restaurants

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2014/10/cyber-attacks-on-us-companies-in-2014

http://www.buzztimebusiness.com/smarts/wifi-major-win-bar-restaurant/

http://smallbiztrends.com/2014/06/benefits-of-offering-free-wifi.html

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