If you’ve been hesitant about upgrading your hotel’s communication system to one that utilizes Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), we can’t exactly blame you. VoIP is still a relatively new technology as applied to hospitality, and even with advances in performance, amazing features, and cost factors to consider, the changeover can feel quite daunting.
There’s no reason for you to make this decision alone and as a first-time VoIP buyer, it’s best to be prepared, which is why we’ve compiled a pre-purchase checklist for you to consider:
#1 — Decide Between Cloud (hosted) and On-Premise
Whether you want the VoIP services to be handled in-house or by a service provider will depend heavily on your own resources and how much work you want to do yourself. While On-Premise can give you more flexibility and control in certain areas, you also have to worry about any maintenance costs which may be incurred. This is not the case with a Cloud VoIP setup. Providers like PhoneSuite, for example, provide a full warranty so that hotels don’t have to worry about maintenance costs.
#2 — Understand What’s Required
In a very real sense, your VoIP performance will only be as good as your internet connection and network capabilities. You need to ensure that your network can handle the traffic based on the number of employees in your hotel and also the data load required for the guests, both now and in the future, in addition to the amount of communication traffic that occurs on a daily basis. Investing in a system that takes into account your company growth is the best strategy. If you’re not sure what your current network capabilities are, PhoneSuite offers a free network assessment.
#3 — Know Your Features
VoIP typically includes a plethora of helpful features such as voicemail-to-email convergence, call forwarding, call screening, etc. By knowing which features will work best for your hotel and how features you’re not familiar with actually function, you’ll be able to provide your employees and guests with better service. Also, make sure any product you are looking at will integrate with your PMS (if desired by you or required by your flag), and also contains standard hospitality features like wake up call and off site transfer of calls.
#4 — Run the Numbers
When deciding on a VoIP provider and whether or not to use their Cloud/ Hosted PBX option, crunch the numbers and make a decision that you feel is best for your hotel. Take into account any setup costs, system upgrade requirements, monthly fees, maintenance costs, etc. If you’d like to get a true picture of costs, you can contact one of CSM South’s representatives for a breakdown, which will help you determine whether or not the costs are justified by the savings potential.
#5 — Consider Business System Integration
Many hotels and other businesses find it important for their VoIP system to easily integrate into their existing PMS platform to ensure an easy transition and daily functionality. Also check to see if your potential provider uses a phone system that will allow integration with other communications applications, such as video conferencing.
#6 — Plan for Mobility
Hotel chains love the benefit of their employees no longer being chained to their desks, allowing them to service customers in a way that was previously impossible. VoIP systems should take full advantage of this, enabling employees to tend to certain duties without ever missing a call or request from a guest. Plus, cell phones and smart phones can be integrated into the hotel phone system for even more flexibility.
#7 — Investigate Your Provider
It’s always a good idea to conduct a little due diligence between signing up with a provider. The VoIP industry has seen several providers come and go, so it’s important to check a potential provider’s track record and overall history. The number of years in business is a great indication, but also find out what their short- and long-term goals are for the services that they offer.
#8 — Check the Provider’s Service Record
In addition to the company’s background and longevity, a provider should meet your criteria when it comes to giving you great service when you need it. A reputable VoIP provider should be able to resolve any issues right away, with no conflict or hesitation. One way to ensure a good service record is to request a list of references from the hotel.
Upgrading your hotel’s communication system to VoIP can be an exciting endeavor, but it’s best if you come prepared. This 8-part checklist will help you identify your business’ needs and zero in on the provider that’s best for you. Good luck!
This article was created by our good friends at www.phonesuite.com, the premier manufacturer of VoIP hospitality phone systems.