Converged Networks in Hotels: A Cost Effective Solution to In-Demand Guest Needs

By Mark Holzberg Chairman & Chief Executive Officer, Hotel Technology Solutions, Inc. | May 19, 2010

In this increasingly competitive industry, a critical point of differentiation in guest services is technology. Are you able to offer the types of digital, Internet protocol-based services that your guests want, including wired and wireless high speed Internet access (HSIA), telephone service, HD TV/video service, and a variety of room controls?

There is a cost-effective solution to providing what guests want today and also accommodating needs that will likely arise in the future. It's called a converged network.

If you could look behind the walls and into the ceilings of many of the world's hotels you would see a 1990s-style "information superhighway" that costs more, requires multiple vendors to fix problems, and makes it difficult to expand or add new applications.

This type of network infrastructure typically has multiple runs of cable side by side going into guest rooms for Internet, telephone and video - a mixed bag of copper and coax each supporting a separate product from various vendors on separated networks.

And then there is also what you don't see, all of which also represent high costs to the hotel owner and the possibility of poor service to the guests: wireless Internet access that originates primarily in the hallways and covers only part of each guest room; large amounts of electricity needed to power the switches and routing equipment; no central management or monitoring; and limited bandwidth (a barrier for future applications such as high definition television).

The solution is not another superhighway but a single roadway, also known as a converged network.

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Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.