In the world of hotel phone systems there were formerly many different manufacturers but with the economic downturn of 2008, the field narrowed. Heavyweights such as Comdial, Hitachi, and Nortel were common in the hospitality telephone system landscape; however now all of these names are either gone entirely or have moved out of the hospitality business. Comdial went bankrupt and was purchased by Vertical which completely discontinued the hospitality product line (Concierge and Innphone). Hitachi vacated both the hospitality and telephone industry in general. Finally, Nortel, once a common brand seen in hotels, was purchased by Avaya who still supports hospitality phone systems, but their market penetration is small and the price tag is high.
This essentially has left two main competitors: Mitel and PhoneSuite. Mitel has been the market leader in the hospitality industry for several decades which has enabled them to have about an 80% share of the hospitality phone system market. However, the long time presence of Mitel also means they carry a lot of technology “baggage”. Technology baggage is when a company has been in business for a substantial amount of time and they cannot shed the old technology for new. This tends to keep them from innovating as fast as they might otherwise be able to. Mitel’s chief competitor is PhoneSuite, which has always been a solidly build, American, product, but the system was designed for small property’s and had several major limitations and until about 2012 could not really say they competed on the same Tier 1 level of manufacturers. Among these limitations was an archaic voice mail system and the maximum of 8 office or staff telephones. However, with the introduction of the fully VoIP VoiceWare V1 and the subsequent VoiceWare V2 PhoneSuite is able to offer an incredible system with all the bells and whistles expected by today’s hotel manager or owner.
So, the hotel phone system market is split between Mitel and PhoneSuite. Both are good products that will fill the need of any hotel. Mitel tends to be thought of as the “gold standard”, but there is a price tag with that. PhoneSuite tends to be more of a value purchase, but with the new VoiceWare 2 system on the market there really are no compromises like there were in the past. However, as readers are sure to be aware, a hotels flag may limit purchases to approved systems. PhoneSuite is approved for Choice, IHG, Hilton, Marriott, and Best Western along with other smaller flags and boutique alliances.
There are other hotel phone systems on the market such as, TransTel, NEC, and Cisco, but they are a very small percentage of the marketplace. Most hoteliers seem to be satisfied with quotes from Mitel and PhoneSuite. If you are in independent brand you may want to look at some of these other brands of hotel phone systems, particularly NEC as the price is always competitive. NEC is limited in the size that it can scale up to and is suited for small and boutique properties while the other brands mentioned in this article all mix VoIP and digital or analog technology.
Being based in Tampa, but with branch offices in Austin and Mobile, CSM is familiar with the hospitality industry as tourism is a major part of our regions’ economy. Contact CSM today to learn more about hotel phone systems.