We currently live in a world that prioritizes staying connected digitally over nearly everything else. After all, if you didn’t Instagram your drink design, did you even have a latte? So, does that make it necessary to offer Wi-Fi in your café? We would argue yes. Whether you choose to make Wi-Fi access free is a brew of a different flavor.
In public sectors, we think Wi-Fi should be like air: free and accessible to all. However, in privately owned businesses, it may make sense to charge for Wi-Fi or require a password or even have a streaming threshold in place that throttles the internet if users overwhelm the network.
Charging a nominal fee for internet usage not only helps defray costs associated with offering Wi-Fi for customer use, but it scales use to customers who are accessing the internet for more than just scrolling their social media feeds or casually streaming Netflix over their morning jolt. Streaming music and videos uses a higher amount of bandwidth compared to the loading ofSave webpages. The downside of charging for Wi-Fi usage is most customers will grumble and likely won’t partake — people are in the habit of being catered to, which includes the expectation of free Wi-Fi for product purchasing customers. If that’s the case …
… Require a Password
If you don’t want to deal with the likely frustrations of charging for Wi-Fi at your café, the next best safeguard is to require a password. Even if you have the password easily visible, it adds a layer of consciousness to customers’ internet usage. They must make the choice to connect, which includes a natural level of awareness of their internet activity. This has the potential to limit the amount of streaming happening at any given time in your café. It won’t eliminate it entirely — nor should it — but it will probably reduce the natural slowing of the server when it’s inundated with users.
Throttle, Baby, Throttle
So, you don’t want to charge or require a password? We get it, that can be a headache. Answering “What’s your Wi-Fi password?” or “I have to pay for the internet?” in the middle of a mid-morning rush is inconvenient and may not allow you to provide the best customer service. What can you do, then, to ensure each customer gets an equal shake at Wi-Fi connectivity and doesn’t unfairly get the slow internet leftovers of Joe Schmoe streaming an HD movie on Prime Video and Jane Doe downloading music from her iTunes? Throttle, baby, throttle! The deliberate slowing of one customer’s internet to increase the bandwidth for another customer is considered throttling. If you’re Joe or Jane, throttling may be annoying, but your over-usage — resulting in slower internet for others — is inconsiderate. There’s a way to control usage so every customer has a normal Wi-Fi experience at your café.
Whether you offer paid Wi-Fi, require a password, throttle Wi-Fi usage or keep internet access completely free, there’s one thing we’re certain of: Staying connected to your customers — and keeping them connected to the people, places and sites they deem important — will help your business.