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How Fiber-Deep Networks and 5G Can Help the Hospitality Industry Recover Post-COVID

Few industries were hit harder by the pandemic than hospitality, with one study showing nearly four million jobs lost. Even with the expected economic boom due to pent up travel demand, the industry will take years to fully recover.

But it’s also an opportunity for hospitality to build back better. Simultaneous with the industry’s recovery will be the widespread rollout of fiber-deep and data rich networks like 5G and WIFI6. (5G networks, for one, are likely to cover 40% of the world by 2024.) These networks can support technologies that help hotel guests feel safer post-pandemic, and enable the industry to lay the groundwork for other high-tech services in the future.

How 5G and WiFi6 Can Help Keep Guests Healthy

Post-pandemic, business and leisure travelers will be more concerned about sanitation, and more alert to ways pathogens can transmit. Fiber-deep networks support technologies that can help address these concerns, and some are already in use. A few examples:

COVID-19 Health-Screenings from Kiosks
Health-screening kiosks could be placed at hotel entrances to perform instant, contactless temperature checks. The results can then be sent to the guest’s smartphone or to personnel in the hotel via an encrypted signal to maintain guest privacy.

Contactless Services and Regular Guest Communication
Post-pandemic, contactless services and communication will become a core hospitality offering. Guests will use their devices to control more of their experiences at the hotel, and will expect more frequent communication from hotel staff. Frictionless check-in and check-out, doors unlocked by a guest’s phone, and AR and VR concierge services will become more ordinary.

Robot Concierges That Augment Hotel Staff
Some hotels are using robots to assist staff in tasks like security, mixing drinks at the bar, or ferrying items to guest rooms. While their use may be a novelty now, they enable hotel staff to focus on other tasks and help staff and guests remain socially distant.

Even with Dollars Scarce, Hotels Should Begin Investing

The COVID-19 recession has made hotels very cost conscious, at least in the short term, said Dan Kornick, Chief Information Officer at Loews Hotels & Co. Because of the need to prioritize survival, most hospitality companies have yet to develop a 5G strategy, he said.

“We’re just evaluating how we handle 5G, and how we provide that to our guests in coming years,” Kornick said.

These technologies will at some point become a business imperative. According to a 2020 Hospitality Technology Lodging Study, 72% of guests are more likely to return to a hotel if it has the technology they want. Plus, technology and consumer demand can move quickly. What is unusual today might become a must-to-have tomorrow.

Find the Right Strategy for You

So, how can the hospitality industry best meet its immediate and long-term networking needs?

WiFi6 is likely an easier sell for hotels in the short term than 5G, as its particular features – less expensive to deploy and maintain, with enormous bandwidth – are more suitable to the needs of the modern traveler. That traveler can be expected to bring multiple devices, check in at work both in the room and at the hotel bar, and be more interested in his or her tablet than the local TV news.

Another option for hotels is a Fiber-to-the-Room solution. Fiber-deep networks are not just about the next generation of services travelers will demand – they’re also about services that will be in demand decades from now. A network like Corning’s SD-LAN offers scalability and flexibility over a simplified infrastructure that can help you prepare for future technological developments.

The 5G rollout will be led by carriers, who are now making investments to build a network that will span nationwide. This technology is well-suited for outdoor events that require enormous bandwidth and low latency –hosting a gaming event, for example. (It’s also likely that in some cases a carrier might decide to bear the costs of installing 5G within a building.)

Whatever your specific requirements, there is a network solution that’s right for your business. To learn more about how Corning can help you prepare for your future data and network needs, visit our hospitality solutions page.

Jessica Janis Koch is the Business Development Director of Sports & Entertainment at Corning Optical Communications. Jessica focuses on expanding the adoption of future-ready infrastructure in Sports, Entertainment and other large public venue environments.

After spending 15 years in various telecommunications and technology consulting and sales positions, her passion for connecting people and their devices led her to Corning, where she accelerated next-generation connectivity efforts in the Western U.S. Her current role is a vertically focused, national role in Market Development working with stadiums, arenas, convention centers and large multi-use developments.She also sits on the Advisory Board for The Los Angeles Sports & Entertainment Commission (LASEC), a non-profit organization officially designated by Los Angeles Tourism to attract, secure and support high-profile sports and entertainment events in Los Angeles. Jessica holds a BA in Organizational Leadership from Chapman University.