Cisco Meraki sees the hotel of the future in its new Wi-Fi gear

The new access points can work with Bluetooth beacons to track guests' locations, for personalized service

The days when hotel Wi-Fi just connected travelers to the Internet are going away. Now it can be part of a system that helps give guests more personalized service – if they don’t mind the hotel tracking their location on the property.

The new MR30H access point from Cisco’s Meraki division will work with Bluetooth beacons - small wireless location devices that stores and other businesses are starting to use so they can tell where people are.

The benefits, as long as guests are willing to opt in, could include things like having an attendant walk up and offer a drink or a towel as you go out to the pool, thanks to your frequent-guest status, said Pablo Estrada, Meraki’s director of marketing.

The new APs won’t do that tracking directly, but they’re designed to be part of a broader wireless system that incorporates the beacons and smartphone apps that loyal customers can use so staff members always know when they’re arriving somewhere. It’s all part of helping hotels compete with each other and with new travel options like Airbnb, Estrada said.

Meraki’s also upping its game on performance with the new devices, its first APs for the hospitality industry that use IEEE 802.11ac Wave 2. And there’s a built-in four-port Ethernet switch where the hotel can plug in things like smart TVs and VoIP (voice over Internet Protocol) phones. The MR30H has a list price of US$599.

The APs themselves can do some location tasks, too, like telling the housekeeping department whether the room is occupied (is there a phone connecting to the AP?) so they know whether they can clean up or provide turn-down service. Bluetooth beacons make that more accurate, though.

Because some travelers might be uncomfortable giving a hotel all this information, Meraki says it gives its customers guidelines for making sure guests know what’s involved and can opt out.

Not all these features are new to the industry, but where Meraki sets itself apart is in its cloud-based management platform, which is designed to help companies get by with a smaller IT staff and eliminate things like Wi-Fi controller boxes. That mission extends to wired LANs, too.

Also on Tuesday, the company’s replacing its MR32 AP with the MR33, which is thinner and $150 cheaper at $649. And it’s phasing out the MR18, its last AP that didn’t have 802.11ac Wave 2.

Meraki is also upgrading its Layer 2 switches for branch and campus networks. The new MS225 and MS250 gain 10-Gigabit Ethernet uplinks and ports that allow customers to physically stack switches together as their networks grow.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Stephen Lawson

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?