You’ve probably encountered a captive portal plenty of times without knowing it—it’s the customized login page that businesses require users to pass through before connecting to the WiFi network. Airports, coffee shops, and hotels are the most popular places to find them, but any type of business can benefit from using a captive portal. It’s an elegant solution for both heightened security and marketing.
Typically, a captive portal presents the user with terms of service, which they must agree to before accessing your business's WiFi hotspot. In some cases, the captive portal might require a password (which you can give to verified customers, for instance, on their coffee receipt). Measures like this help free you from liability in the event of illegal or otherwise destructive online behavior, while similar security features keep company assets safe. Using a captive portal also gives you increased control over your bandwidth, offering customizable time limits for how long each user can stay connected to your network.
On the commercial end, captive portals present an excellent opportunity for seamless marketing—they facilitates user engagement at a critical point during their Internet experience, and is a very powerful medium that can be used for a range of business needs. Use a captive portal to have users fill out a survey, view a sponsored advertisement, or highlight current promotions.
The process of setting up your WiFi hotspot's captive portal varies depending on your business's network setup. Though the details differ, you'll always start by making sure your firmware is up to date and accessing the Web-based setup page for your network's access point—from there, the process should be fairly similar across devices. It looks a little something like this: