Although people who setup hotspots for a living are finding work these days, it isn’t entirely clear that a business can achieve significant revenues from an active hotspot for its customers.
It’s probably best to think about this service as an incremental revenue source, or a part of your overall service package at the moment. That may change over time as more people may be willing to pay for hotspot connectivity when that connectivity is ubiquitous and universally available.
Essentially, hotspots need to have the same kind of coverage that cell phone companies provide. Because today there is no national or international network of hotspots, and no consistent pricing scheme, it’s harder to attract paying customers for hotspots at the moment than it is to, say, get someone to buy a cell phone service contract.
Perhaps the cell phone networks will become the wireless LAN connector of choice and this will be another part of that service. If your business can be improved by providing Wi-Fi access to customers, perhaps you can avoid the headache of trying to audit and bill for service by adding the cost of service to your products.
Any restaurant that is busy with few empty tables and requires multiple seatings throughout the evenings for meals to turn a profit isn’t going to be helped by installing a hotspot. They don’t want their customers just sitting around.
However, any business with lot of empty tables and chairs or where the act of being on the premises adds sale volume due to additional product purchases is a candidate. The experience of others in your particular industry and in similar locations is often the best teacher.
Remember, having a hotspot can be a differentiator that helps you gain advantage over your competition. A customer might choose your hotel over someone else’s if you offer wireless connections. Chances are that your experience with hotspots will be tied to the kinds of customers your business attracts, and to your particular business model.
Among the establishment types that could benefit from a hotspot are:
- Airports, bus terminals and other public transportation
- Hotels and motels
- Internet cafes
- Coffee shops
- Shopping malls
- Self-service and business centers
- Conventions and conference centers
- Apartment buildings and offices
- Any company that needs to provide guest access to network services.
Hotspots needn’t be a permanent feature either. If you run a trade show you could be setting up a hotspot every time you move your “tent.”