Many businesses are hesitant to offer free Wi-Fi to the public or their customers. This post highlights some of the advantages of offering that service.
This article has been motivated by the free Wi-Fi initiative in Barbados (11.11.11 ON) that is being facilitated by the Barbados Entrepreneurial Foundation, which has the goal of achieving free Wi-Fi island wide by 11 November 2011. Following our earlier post, From bus stop to rum shop: how Barbados plans to achieve 100% Wi-Fi coverage, most of the feedback received was from organisations/people concerned about protecting their private networks. However, there was also a vague sense that many did not fully understand how businesses could benefit from offering guest networks that provided free wireless Internet access.
In a number of articles, including our earlier post and How would a Wi-Fi nation affect Barbados, some of the potential benefits and opportunities of the 11.11.11 ON project have been highlighted. Admittedly, most of the points primarily speak to national benefits (to Barbados), and so the success of the project might (unfairly) be relying on considerable altruism from participating businesses. However, there are a number of advantages organisations can gain by offering free Wi-Fi.
1. Facilitates better client relations. From the doctor’s office to the barbershop, although persons might have appointments, more often than not, schedules do not run to time – they have to wait. By providing free Wi-Fi access, organisations can show that they value their clients’ time, and allow them to still be productive while they wait for their appointments. For those who might not be as busy, Internet access can also be welcomed distraction while they wait.
2. Offers a competitive advantage. Similar to the word “sale”, many of us love the word “free”. Offering “free Wi-Fi”, could be deciding factor in choosing one organisation or business over another, since we all tend to appreciate complimentary extras.