Captive Portal: An Introduction Into Data Collection

A captive portal is a web or splash page displayed before users can authenticate onto WiFi using a desktop computer or mobile device. Often, captive portals display as login interfaces for guest WiFi connections, like those you find in restaurants, cafes, airport lounges, and hotel business centers.

When using a Captive Portal, customers simply log into the organization’s physical venues, usually as an entry point for a business’s guest WiFi connection. Businesses can then use these portals to capture key insights into the customers that enter their physical venue/store.

This can be doing using registration forms or enabling sign in with social media accounts or email accounts.

How Captive Portals Work

The captive portal feature is a software implementation that blocks clients from accessing the network until user verification has been established. You can set up verification to allow access for both guests and authenticated users. Authenticated users must be validated against a database of authorized captive portal users before access is granted.

In its simplest form, customer captive portals allow access to a business or venue’s wireless network once users have completed a registration form or authenticated using social media login options.

This creates a value exchange for both parties involved, the guest gets free internet access and the wireless provider is able to collect key demographic insights into their guests, enabling them to create more accurate customer profiles to enhance the customer experience.

To take advantage of a captive portal, a business needs to create a solution that satisfies the following requirements:

  • An easy to use, user interface
  • The capability of gathering information
  • Content delivery mechanism
  • Seamless integration with a back-end datastore
  • Ability to customize level to customer’s needs

Once you have these elements in place, you can create and use a captive portal to your advantage.


Benefits of Captive Portals

  • Capture richer data —allow for progressive profiling with the use of custom fields, allowing you to ask customers to provide additional information as to what you already hold on them, allowing you to enrich your current customer profiles and start to build out more targeted marketing campaigns.
  • Stops users from hogging bandwidth— users can hog bandwidth when on the network and slow your system if you’re not careful. To prevent this, businesses often create a customized plan that places restrictions on things like the number and size of files they can download per session.
  • Combine with analytics to understand customer behavior -Use reports such as frequency and recency to understand the behavior of your customers.
  • Generates revenue — Captive portals can provide a direct means of generating revenue. Some businesses, for example, have guests pay for their usage when they log-in or use the portal as a billboard and sell ad space to other companies.
  • Protect customer’s privacy — Hackers can exploit the security vulnerabilities of guest WiFi connections by setting up a fake wireless network. Customers access their networks instead of yours. It’s called phishing. And it’s deadly.

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