In the hospitality industry today, every owner or franchisee
is looking for new revenue streams, ways to cut existing costs, and innovative options
for expanding guest satisfaction. While CSM South, with offices in Tampa,
Florida and Austin, Texas, cannot give advice in every aspect of the above wish
list, we can offer some exciting advice regarding how a telephone system can help
address them all. Specifically, the maturation of VoIP in the hospitality industry
has enabled owners to recapture revenue, cut expenses, and simultaneously with
these, increase the happiness of their guests.
To begin, let’s look at the basics of telecom in the hospitality vertical. There are three telephone system manufacturers who have cornered the market, accounting for nearly 90% of the new systems sold and installed in the United States- PhoneSuite, Mitel, and NEC. There are, of course, a host of other phone systems available such as Cisco, Unify, and the niche players Matrix and 3CX.
Cisco Hotel Phone Systems- Let’s get this out of the way!
Surprisingly, Cisco is one that we get asked about a lot, probably because of their pervasiveness in data switches and WiFi. However, they have never created a full-service VoIP telephone system for the hotel/ motel market. For sure, they have an extensive array of VoIP phones (many of which operate on competing systems), and they do have a line of VoIP telephone systems, however the product mix cannot compete on a feature or integration level with the dominant players of PhoneSuite, Mitel, and NEC. However, Cisco has had excellent market penetration with their Wifi (Meraki), data switch, and other networking gear. They are well known for making a quality product that lasts a long time.
The Dominant Players- PhoneSuite, Mitel, NEC
These “Big Three” easily account for more than 90% of the hospitality telecom market share. Long established, they each have various reasons for why they have captured their part of the telecom pie. Mitel has been a mainstay for over 30 years, is widely accepted by every chain, and offers a full suite of products for every size hotel. PhoneSuite started as a niche player based in the Denver, CO metro area. However, since their release of the VoiceWare product line, they have been accepted as a preferred vendor for IHG, Marriott, Best Western, and every major chain in the country. Finally, NEC, while a major player in the hotel phone system industry, has had a little more trouble growing to the wide acceptance of the other two manufacturers, playing more in the very small independent/ boutique properties, or the very large resort hotels such as the casino hotels of Las Vegas. CSM South, while able to sell, service, and install any of these three, tends to lean towards PhoneSuite for properties requiring PMS integration, the ability to mix VoIP and analog telephones, and more complex installations. We usually propose NEC for boutique properties or chain hotels which have under 100 rooms who do not need PMS integration as a required feature.
Over the last decade, revenue from many hotels has shifted to include many facets of guest services such as dining, entertainment, and recreation. Hotels have started recognizing this and began using VoIP to capture additional revenue. With the advanced color screens available on many VoIP phones, guests can browse menus of onsite restaurants and photos of dining areas while on the phone with a concierge or front desk, assisting in keeping guests on property instead of spending their Dollars elsewhere. Portable phones and smart phone apps can keep staff available and responsive to guest calls and concerns, again, driving onsite revenue. Additionally, calls can be recorded so that quality is ensured by management.
Using VoIP to Cut Costs
Bringing down expenses is one of the major reasons businesses upgrade their phone system. CSM South has found several ways of accomplishing this- all while keeping the guest experience in place.
Primarily, when a new VoIP telephone system is installed, a
hotel/ motel can take advantage of new line service from SIP providers, utilizing
internet service to simultaneously run their voice connection. Often, savings
of over 50% can be achieved by making this simple change, giving the new phone
system a fast ROI. As an example, consider the following. A typical hotel may
have 10-12 CO lines or a T-1/ PRI. The cost for these will be about $500 a
month, varying depending on the location of the property and the service
providers available. SIP trunks, with a similar amount of service, would be
around $250 a month.
Secondly, service is considerably easier on new VoIP
telephone systems than on old digital or analog ones. A typical service call where
a technician must come to site usually runs around $125 an hour whereas a
remote ticket can be handled for under $50. Not only can it can be done faster
than a site visit, but work can also be completed with the minimum amount of disruption
to staff as nobody needs to greet the tech, take him/ her to the equipment
Expanding Guest Satisfaction
Hotel/ motel guests are ever more demanding from their
hosts, as any property manager could agree. Fortunately, new VoIP telephone
systems have unique and innovative ways in increasing guest satisfaction. VoIP
phones can have dynamic screens programmed to show welcome messages, beautiful
scenes from the property or nearby attractions, the weather, news… the list
Along with the VoIP phone systems, CSM South offers a full suite of WiFI products. WiFi is one of the major factors in guest satisfaction- and headaches for owners. However, with careful planning and deployment, the WiFi network can be stable, reliable, and cost effective. This stability can dramatically increase the level of guest happiness.
Though Cisco makes a very wide range of networking products, their phone systems just don’t cut it in the hospitality industry. Hotels/ motels who are looking for a new phone system should at minimum consider one of the big 3, PhoneSuite, Mitel, and NEC, and choose the one that best fits their flags requirements and budget, while also considering present and future options that they might want to offer guests.
CSM South is based in Tampa, FL. and Austin, TX, from where we provide sales or new telephone systems and service on existing PhoneSuite, Mitel, ShoreTel, Avaya, and Nortel systems.