One of the most-requested, if not most demanded, amenity that is offered at a vacation rental property is WiFi. In fact, access to the internet is more in-demand than laundry facilitates, cable TV and a dishwasher. In today’s connected world, not offering some sort of internet connectivity can lead to fewer guests in the long run, so it is one of the most important considerations to take into account when putting together the user experience for the guests. The good thing is that according to Lodgify, a vacation rental expert and tech company, WiFi is relatively simple to set up and administer, but it does come with some complications.
One complication comes from the usage of the internet. Illegal usage is widespread, and the responsibility for how the internet is used ultimately falls onto the property owner’s lap. For the proprietor of the vacation rental (and the administrator of the internet connection), the need to control and monitor how the connection is used becomes a real concern.
Making sure that users remain within the laws of the land is a crucial step, as is ensuring that all traffic can be traced back to the specific users making queries. For anyone looking into the prospect of offering free WiFi, therefore, in-house rules for the usage of the connection must be clearly established and IT solutions to track and control user traffic must be considered as well.
Keeping the Network Secure
Simple maintenance can go a long way when it comes to maintaining a secure WiFi network. One needn’t be an IT whiz to keep systems up to standard which is great news, because most of us are standard users. Getting familiar with the router’s hardware and firmware is a good first step. As soon as you gain access to the router a large number of options become available, including changing passwords, changes the connection name, adding layers of encryption to the network, and identifying who can connect and how much can be uploaded and downloaded. In general, the router is the best tool an internet administer has, so it is well worth the time it takes to get accustomed to its use.
Let the Guests Take Responsibility
When it comes to holding guests accountable for the things they do online, the process of doing that is not quite as black and white as it may seem. Most vacation rental properties have one connection that works for all the guests, so figuring out which person accessed what while they were online would be a very difficult task. The most common practice is to create a set of restrictions and have guests sign it while checking into the vacation rental. Doing that makes guests aware that the hosts are not willing to take the responsibility for their guests’ browsing habits.
Set Usage Rules
There are many different usage rules that one can create to help deter WiFi misuse. Some of the most common are setting limits for downloads and uploads, as well as creating keyword restrictions that help curb access to questionable sites. By keeping quotas in check, the administrator is able to limit illegal downloading, and keep streaming to a manageable level. Using tools like OpenDNS for keyword limitations also gives almost complete control over the types of content that can be accessed through the network.
The main thing to keep in mind when considering best practices connected to offering free WiFi is that connectivity is not something that can be ignored in the vacation rental industry. Everyone expects some kind of internet connection to be made available to them, but guests rarely complain when the vacation property takes steps to protect itself from misuse. So long as certain best practices are adhered to, free WiFi can be an amenity worth having.