Five-Star Connectivity: Elevating Our Guest Experience with a Simple, Powerful Cloud Management Solution
Staying at a luxury resort comes with certain expectations: world-class restaurants, beautiful design, plush sheets, and outstanding customer service. And, increasingly, guests want to experience seamless, consistent wireless connectivity wherever they go.
Wi-Fi is no longer just about work. It’s how we all connect to the world. A luxury experience does not come cheap, and if an upscale hotel doesn’t have the best Wi-Fi connectivity, their reputation can plunge very quickly. A hotel manager recently told me that when guests check in, the first thing they ask is, “What’s the Wi-Fi password?” Only then do they say hello.
is an Italian brand founded in 2018. The hôtellerie takes inspiration from the name of the famous aviator Charles Lindbergh and has seven premium four- and five-star hotels and resorts in some of the most beautiful locations in Italy. From the city to the country to the beach, business hotels to family-friendly atmospheres, we have something for every type of guest.
Simplicity, Power, and Security in a Single Infrastructure
I came to Lindbergh during its formation in 2018. It was a time of significant change, and as IT Manager, my role has always been all-encompassing. I monitor the infrastructure at every hotel and resort property. I check for malware and poor connectivity, from firewalls, access points, and switches to end devices for guests and my colleagues. I am also responsible for our email servers.
We decided to keep the installed base in all the ex-Eden properties, but each site ran as a separate entity. They all had different devices and customizations, which made it difficult to manage because I had to learn a different language for each location. To make things easier, I wanted to merge everything from old and new properties into a single infrastructure.
Meraki stood out, and not only because it was part of our existing infrastructure. Rather than continuing to check multiple logs and learn a new language for every new device, migrating all of our devices to Meraki would allow me to follow everything from a single dashboard, using a single type of documentation that enabled any configuration.
We Cater to Our Guests by Fulfilling Each Hotel’s Needs
Meraki was a perfect combination of simplicity, power, and security. In moving everything to Meraki, we gained the flexibility to meet the needs of each of our locations.
Our hotel in Perugia, for example, is business-oriented. When we replaced everything at that location, we kept in mind that our guests there hold many meetings, and we should provide better throughput for anyone giving a presentation, in case they require video streaming. I also created a graphic layer in the dashboard where I can see a heat map of devices in use using a BLE beacon powered by MR33 and MR45 access points. Depending on what I observe, I can alert my colleagues to what areas of the property will be busy and when. If we see there are typically a lot of guests at the bar between 8–10 a.m., for example, maybe we could decide to have a discount on breakfast then. Likewise, we can let management know if there needs to be more staff in a particular place at a specific time.
Meanwhile, our resort in Sicily has very different demands. This two-kilometer-long property operates more like a village, with 218 separate buildings. Previously, the connectivity in the guest rooms and common areas was poor: there was no cellular signal and no Wi-Fi. As you can imagine, we received a lot of complaints. That changed when we underwent our most extensive network refresh, implementing Wi-Fi 6 into all sleeping and common areas, such as the swimming pool, spa, and beach. Since adding Wi-Fi 6 to these areas, we’ve seen a boost in positive guest reviews.
Our Cala della Torre property in Sardinia caters to families, so they have to meet different demands. A family of four might have six or even eight separate devices between them, and their needs may change from daytime to evening. During the day, the family may engage in activities in common areas, such as the pool or the theater. But when everyone heads back to their room in the evening, their entertainment needs skyrocket: one adult wants to watch football, the other wants to stream something on Netflix, and the kids want to watch cartoons. We are working to provide connectivity to all 196 rooms, using a Meraki access point with a four-Gigabit ethernet port that can provide a separate network for televisions on a dedicated VLAN.
Simplicity Means Efficiency, Cost Savings, and Faster Troubleshooting
For me, Meraki equals simplicity. It allows me to manage all our sites quickly and easily, saving me time, saving the company money, and allowing for deeper insights that impact customer service.
I could have performed many of these tasks before, but everything took a lot of time. With increased efficiency, I can now do other things with my workday, and I can do it on my own. Our IT department used to consist of five people, but Meraki’s cloud management networking lets me function as a one-person IT team, managing everything from a single pane of glass.
We have also gained savings from lowering the cost of connectivity. Instead of using an expensive MPLS, we now use a VPN mesh to allow the properties to talk to each other. Initially, not everyone understood the importance and value of this infrastructure refresh. During the pandemic, however, they understood the importance of VPN when they could work from home during the pandemic. Everyone could access the applications they needed with just a few clicks.
Meraki’s alerts and notifications let me know when something goes wrong at one location, even if I’m home or at another site. I can then prioritize better, which helps my colleagues, too. The faster I resolve an issue, such as unlocking a specific port or providing more throughput, the less time they spend fumbling with IT and the more time they can dedicate to guest services.
A Connectivity Partner That’s Part of My Team
Throughout this process, the support of our long-term connectivity partner, Fastnet S.p.a., has been crucial. Fastnet has provided us with many solutions, including the original introduction to Meraki.
As the sole IT support for Lindbergh Hotels, I find additional value in having access to Fastnet technicians. We can speak the same language when walking through scenarios and sharing ideas. When starting a new project, I explain my needs and we discuss plans for the project together.
Fastnet is just the right size for our company, too. We’ve worked with very large partners, and escalating an issue takes a lot of time and effort. Because I have direct and open lines of communication with Fastnet, troubleshooting is much more efficient. I feel we’re working towards the same goal as a team.
With Cisco, We Stay Ahead of the Competition
I am convinced that Meraki is the way of the future for Lindbergh, especially as we add more hotels and I have even more to manage across the country. With Meraki, I can handle our expansion, no problem, even our newest experiments with contactless hotels.
Homie, our hotel in Rimini, will be one such automated hotel, or “Hotel 2.0.” Guests will use their devices to unlock the front door, open room doors, and access hotel services—with limited human interaction. As you can imagine, connectivity will be at its core, and we will build it with a complete Meraki infrastructure, including cameras and sensors. I also want to explore adding Cisco Umbrella to our stack as an extra layer of security.
For a hotel, the guest experience is everything, and my mission is to provide our guests with the most amazing connectivity experience possible. When I travel, I notice the difference between our Wi-Fi experience and that at other hotels. Meraki helps Lindbergh deliver the top-quality experience that our guests expect.
I love that Lindbergh continues to explore the changing boundaries of hospitality. As Lindbergh evolves to meet guest needs, Cisco has the full range of devices to accommodate those changes.