2 people drinking coffee in a coffee shop and using WiFi

What’s next for venues offering free WiFi?

picture of Mark Smith, Director of SME, eir Business

Mark Smith

Director of SME, eir Business

Communications Mobile News Broadband

Everybody loves venues offering free WiFi. Coffee drinkers and restaurant-goers often choose a venue based on whether they can get online, quickly and reliably. But something’s changed in the market, and it’s this: the new generation of WiFi technology doesn’t just benefit the customer, it benefits the venue owner, with rich, deep insights into their customers – and that has big implications for how they run, market and advertise their business.

Old-style public WiFi did one thing, and not always brilliantly well: it got customers online, adequately enough to check e-mail or post a status update. New style WiFi, like the Advantage WiFi service being rolled out by eir Business this month, is a different thing altogether.

If you remember just a few things about WiFi now versus WiFi then, it should be these:


1. Find out who your customers really are. Modern WiFi services let the venue owner gather contact information, like e-mail addresses and mobile numbers, from any customers using the WiFi. The portal eir Business has set up for venue owners, for instance, means that with just a few clicks you can get a full list of contact details and really start building a communication relationship with your customers, contacting them if you have offers, promotions or deals. If your customers log onto your WiFi using Facebook, even better: gender, age, and other details will also be available, letting you draw a fuller portrait of your customer base.

2. Controlling how customers use the WiFi is easy. Ever see people loitering outside a closed shop in the evening, hanging off the shop’s always-on free WiFi? Have you noticed people lingering for an hour in front of an empty coffee cup in a crowded café because they’re busy online with the free WiFi? Newer WiFi services like Advantage WiFi let the venue owner decide how much free access customers get, and for how long (including opening hours). Add to that the ability to set up whitelists and blacklists – for example, the venue owner might decide to block streaming websites like Netflix that gobble bandwidth – and it’s clear why venue benefit more from a modern WiFi service that puts them in control.

3. Customers love free WiFi. I’ve already mentioned that one, but it’s worth repeating. If you’re a venue owner offering sub-standard WiFi, believe it or not, your customers will get annoyed. It doesn’t matter whether it’s free. Customers see your free WiFi offering as part of your business and your brand, and they expect it to work reliably and quickly, just as they expect tidy tables and clean restrooms. The Advantage WiFi offer from their business makes it a lot easier to please customers, because it automatically upgrades you, the venue owner, to the fastest possible broadband connection available, and that means fibre speeds of 100 Mb per second if you’re in a fibre area. Online content is only going to get more bandwidth intensive. If you’re offering free WiFi to your patrons, it’s important to get the bandwidth right.

Busy business owners get more from modern WiFi

Small and medium-size businesses have so much to think about, from staffing to signage to health and safety – but intriguing thing is that offering a free WiFi service actually fits right into the business owner’s priorities. Imagine being able to click on your WiFi management portal and see at a glance, in graphical form, when your customer WiFi service (and, by extension, your premises) is busiest. Does that affect your staffing?

What about customer demographics? You might have an idea that you’re close to your customer base, but what if the analytics show that your average customer is a lot older – or a lot younger – than you thought? Those WiFi analytics gives you the hard data that lets you make business decisions about where to advertise your business to attract more of the kind of customer you’re after.

This is a great time to be a business owner because technologies like free public WiFi are so much more powerful now. What used to be seen simply as a cost centre actually pays for itself quite quickly in the form of business value: customer contact details, customer demographics, and data on footfall peaks and troughs.

Why not get in touch with us to see what Advantage WiFi could do for you? You need to have Broadband with eir Business to purchase Advantage WiFi. If you do not have broadband  with eir Business, please contact us as we have the best value WiFi bundle on the market: landline, unlimited eir broadband and Advantage WiFi.

What’s your plan for meeting customers’ need to get online? Find out more here.