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Hosted Telephony for Hotels

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By Neil Tolley, Managing Director, Fourteen IP

Hotels, particularly the major groups, have been moving services above property (to the cloud) for quite some time now with servers and storage going quite some time ago and now a great many hotels host their Front of House system in the cloud along with numerous other serbices.

Indeed some groups such as Kempinski have moved email over to Goole Apps taking away the management of a worldwide email service. Now that these projects have been completed and have been a success there is a drive to move other services to the cloud, including telephony.

Applications such as Call Accounting and PMS from Tiger, SDD and others are available as a hosted service and are now becoming the norm, leaving telephony. The reasons are simple, hoteliers are just that and do not want to have to manage a huge array of increasingly complex IT systems.

The challenges providing hosted voice solutions to hotels has always been around other services such as Front of House, Call Accounting and PMS also needing to be off property and then the particular problem of the high number of analogue extensions deployed in most hotels.

Historically this was a real problem and the solution was to re-cable in CAT5e and change handsets to IP or SIP, few will be surprised that there were no takers for that approach.

There are now affordable solutions, I shall focus on two but there are others.

Audiocodes manufacture a number of gateways that are certified to work with a range of PBX’s. These gateways allow legacy analogue extensions and trunks as well as ISDN2 and ISDN30 trunks to be connected to the LAN and then on to the hosted service.

The Audiocodes gateways also provide local survivability allowing some services to continue in case of network failure and allow analogue trunks to be connected for both survivability and emergency services use.

Mitel’s model uses their AX controller to work in ‘peripheral mode’ and allows up to 288 analogue extensions to be connected in a single chassis which is connected to the network.

Both solutions work well and importantly are priced well enough to allow a hosted solution to be built.

For full service hotels that require all the features and functionality of a traditional on site PBX solutions from Mitel and NEC are available, for smaller hotels then a solution is on the horizon from one of the major SME hosting providers that will provide hosted voice along with ‘big hotel’ features and access to cloud based call accounting, PMS and guest vmail.

Why Move to Hosted in Your Hotel?

There are a huge number of hotels that have very old, very reliable, telephone systems. 10, 15 or even 20 year old systems are normal. They work, perhaps they do not have the features of a new system, but they work and a new system is very expensive.

Long gone are the days where guests use the hotel phone and telephone revenues were a good source of income and a reason to upgrade the phone system.

So why move to hosted?

The 10-20 year old PBX will no doubt not be supported by the manufacturer and the number of parts and ability of maintainers to keep the systems going will continue to diminish if indeed it has not already.

Purchasing a new onsite system requires a large capex investment and provides for the same challenges to appear again in a few years time, perhaps more so as we live in a world of regular software updates and ever changing needs for connectivity.

A hosted solution requires minimal capital expenditure and gives you a system with all the features you require, fully managed and always up to date with the latest software release.

You will get the latest features not just for your guests but for you and your team.

Save the money and hassle of dealing with carriers for your ISDN and analogue lines.

Save some space and electricity.

Add in flexibility on adding and removing features and users, the ability to swap easily to a local PBX should you sell the hotel and access to other cloud based services such as call accounting, voicemail, PMS

The question is perhaps why would you not move to hosted for your hotel?