Captive Portal: The Tool for Smarter WiFi Now and Later

Guest WiFi started as a trendy new amenity and is now practically a staple of doing business. It’s the first thing folks check for when stepping into a hotel, and it can make or break the decision on where to eat dinner that night. Multiple studies have confirmed it: people prefer to eat, shop, play and stay at businesses that offer free WiFi.

Basic guest WiFi has one drawback, though. You either have to protect it with a password that then has to be shared with guests, or you have to leave your network unsecured. That’s an impossible choice for business owners. The solution came with the introduction of captive portal technology. A captive portal creates a connection experience that benefits both the customer and the business.

Captive Portal 101

A captive portal is a branded web page that shows WiFi guests whose WiFi they’re trying to access and guides them through the connection process. With a captive portal, WiFi guests are prompted to authenticate through either social information, verification process, or payment (if venue charges for WiFi). These three avenues of authentication usually include:

  • Email
  • Social Media Account
  • Credit/Debit Card Payment
  • Access Code (Voucher, Member I.D., Loyalty Program, Etc.

Captive portals ask WiFi users to provide some type of asset in order to use a Venues’ WiFi. But that’s only the beginning. A captive portal system does more for the venue and the user than simply ask for social information.

Safety and Security

Captive portals provide an extra layer of security for venues that want to keep their network safe from unwanted devices. With the boom in smart devices, businesses that are located next to residential areas are in danger of having their bandwidth slowed to a crawl by multiple devices connecting to the free WiFi. Since TVs, fridges, and other smart appliances don’t have the ability to authenticate through a captive portal system, venue owners know the only devices using the WiFi are the ones they want (phones, tablets, and laptops).

Social Sharing and Engagement

Venues that offer WiFi with a captive portal create a new marketing opportunity for themselves. Innovative captive portal platforms provide the ability to encourage guests to like and follow a brand’s social media accounts. Social media can help grow a business of any size, so venues that utilize a captive portal would benefit from offering some type of social sign-in for their guests.

As the user, liking and following your favorite venues through their WiFi is a great way to see their future posts on your timelines. Many brick-and-mortar venues utilize a Facebook page to share important information such as new products or services, hours of operations, events, and more. If a customer were to authenticate on a company’s guest WiFi through Facebook, they could be redirected to that venue’s Facebook page and get better acquainted with the business and brand.

Marketing and Increased Sales

Venues that use a captive portal system have a tremendous opportunity to market back to those who visit the store’s location. Gathering emails from the authentication process allows businesses to step up their email marketing game and reach out to people that a venue knows is interested in the company because they used the WiFi.

Marketing to WiFi users is especially important if they are first-time guests. On average, returning customers spend 67% more on purchases compared to first-time customers, so venues will send deals and promotions to first-time guests and encourage them to become a repeat customer.

As the WiFi user, a captive portal works in their favor by receiving the deals and promotions from the venue. It’s not a secret that every business you purchase from wants your repeat business. By providing businesses a simple social asset such as an email, you should expect any smart business to send you marketing content such as coupons, BOGO deals and other promotions that help you save money the next time you visit.

Making the Switch

Do you offer free WiFi? Ready for a smarter WiFi experience for you and your guests? Increase engagement and offer a branded WiFi authentication process with GoZone’s Marketing4WiFi platform. Marketing4WiFi comes with captive portal feature that will turn your basic WiFi into smart WiFi. Contact us today to learn more or schedule a demo with us to our captive portal system and Smart WiFi in action.

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