What is Guest Wifi?

It’s important to differentiate between guest wifi and using guest mode on a wifi router. Guest mode refers to the isolated network, available on most business routers, to which those outside your organization can connect. They are typically insecure, open networks, and most of your guests are wary of attackers and malware lurking in those spaces.

Guest wifi is a separate, secure guest internet connection you can offer to clients visiting your office or patients in the waiting room. You will draw more retail customers to your location if they know that you have guest wifi available for them.

Do You Need Guest Wifi?

You need guest wifi to keep up with customer expectations, increase lifetime value of clients, and close more deals.

1. Your patients, your clients, and your customers expect internet access when they walk in your doors.

If you don’t already provide a wireless access point with guest access, you’re at a social capital disadvantage.

Finding niche advantages in a saturated market can be difficult. Wifi access is an expectation for all businesses and everywhere from hotels and cafes to tech startup offices that do not offer guests an internet connection are behind the times. Keeping up with obligations like internet access for guests will make your business sustainable, but providing something your competitors can’t--like guest wifi security--will set your small business above the others.

2. Increase client lifetime value and close more deals by providing secure guest wifi.

When your retail customers visit your location, they want to know that they can log in and check work emails, upload the quarterly report that happens to be due while they’re traveling, and sometimes to do a little research on you or your product. Recent customer education research from MIT’s Sloan Management Review suggests that customers who know more about how your product or service works are more likely to buy (even if the unbiased information shows small differences from competitors).

So, what does customer education have to do with your guest wifi?

Guest wifi provides your future and current clients with the opportunity to take care of those nagging questions and due diligence concerns right there while they are in your office. When clients can purchase with a clear conscience and have the convenience of guest wifi, they are more likely to stay longer and learn more with you, rather than grab a coffee at a local cafe just for the internet.

3. Retail clients who can compare competitor products while shopping are more likely to buy.

The internet is here and there’s no putting the cat back in the bag. Acting like your retail clients can’t find competitor information as soon as they leave your store only makes your business seem less relevant.

Amazon has taken guest wifi and IoT into the shopping world with the first store with no checkout lines: Amazon Go. Amazon Go only allows customers with the Amazon Go app on their smartphone to enter the store and automatically charges items they remove from the shelves to the customer’s Amazon account. This brilliant marriage of IoT customer retention also takes the necessity of secure guest internet to another level.

How to Set Up Secure Guest Wifi at Your Small Business

As you step off the plane, you see there’s about an hour delay for your connecting flight, making an hour layover into two. You’ve got reports to tidy, sales pitches to finesse, and about 50 emails from the last hour to answer. You, like most travelers, will head to a coffee shop or restaurant with reliable, secure guest wifi. At the new vendor’s office, you notice the wifi connection is not secure, miss a chance to fact check their presentation, and have to put off a decision to buy from them until you pop into your hotel later on.

When do businesses need to provide guest wifi? How do you ensure it is secure for your guests, and keeps your network fortified against intruders?

Read on to learn when businesses should provide guest wifi, and how to provide guest wifi security for guest users and protect your network.

You need guest wifi to keep up with customer expectations, increase lifetime value of clients, and close more deals.

Is Your Guest Wifi Safe?

Many businesses are hesitant to offer a wireless access point with guest access due to security concerns--both risks to users and threats from malicious users. Crawlers and malicious users can more easily access an open network, but even so-called secure wifi routers create risks for you and your guest users’ data. Hotels are at particular risk due to being targeted by hackers who can make great gains in a short timeframe if they access a hotel’s “secure” network.

How to ensure guest wifi security:

  • Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)
  • Set up a separate SSID so guest users and employees log in through different portals
  • Centralize network management to quickly assess and configure your networks from wherever you are

How can you set it up?

If you’re using a network management system with virtual deployment capabilities like CloudTrax, you can easily and quickly set up secure guest internet at multiple locations.

Still, many IT professionals and executives are concerned that a wireless access point with guest access is a cyber security landmine. Follow these steps to design a small business wireless network diligently using cost-effective and safe hardware and other network tools to keep you and guests safe.

Steps to set up secure guest internet for small businesses:

  1. Configure your internal network for optimal functioning with higher traffic
  2. Protect your network by using a VPN
  3. Reassure guest users with their own SSID on your secure network
  4. Monitor and manage networks for continued security and unfettered data flow to your users and your guests

How can you use it to your advantage?

Use your guest network splash page as a marketing opportunity. Retail locations often use guest wifi captive portals as a customer retention tool, to incentivize customer feedback, and to give users a reason to stay longer and order another croissant and chai latte.

Any small business can adapt this model to their guest wifi login. Tout the fact that you’re ranked as one of the best tech startups to work for. Invite guests to read a top-ranked article about your product or service. Gain free product insight with incentivized voting on your captive portal. Use your creativity to make guest wifi another marketing tool.

Learn how to set up your secure guest network today with Open Mesh.