PC Reliability in the Hotel Environment

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March 01, 2017
Hardware
Geoff Griswold - geoff@atlantaomnigroup.com

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Most hotels want reliability in all the equipment used on the property. Many vendors claim that their products are the most reliable and some can produce surveys to back up their claims.

The quest for reliability applies to personal computers as well. Downtime can cost the hotel revenue, inconvenience guests and cause accounting issues, to name a few.

Many systems in today’s hotels run on Microsoft’s Internet Explorer browser, even though Microsoft has a new browser, Edge. Some websites do not function properly on Apple’s Safari® browser. However, some PMSs either run on Linux, Unix or Citrix-based platforms that would interface with Apple’s products the same as they would with Windows-based products.
 
That is not to say that Macs have not found specialized applications such as layout, design and presentation in the marketing department and for guest use in sleeping rooms. There are some hotel restaurants that use Apple tablets for guest ordering and inventory control.

Standard PC tasks, such as front desk, bellstand, sales and marketing, engineering, etc., are usually performed on a Windows PC. Top brands used in hotels include Samsung, Lenovo and Dell, among others. All these come with a warranty, many for up to three years. Some vendors offer on-site service, but that does not include reloading the hotel’s software or data.

When analyzing repair costs for various systems, consider the various components, replacement part costs and labor to install and test various items, reload the operating system and reinstall all software and data (if the problem was the hard drive, which many times it is).

Some may say that in modern hotel systems, PCs merely act as terminals to either an in-house server or to a cloud-based configuration. While this is partially true, local processing power and storage is critical for maximum performance so the proper configuration (hardware and software) on the local PC is required.

When a failure does occur, it is important that repairs are performed quickly. Ideally, the hotel has some spare PCs on hand so they can switch out the malfunctioning one. If not, the damaged one will have to be repaired onsite. If warranty parts are to be used for the repair, it usually takes a day to obtain them. An alternative is to purchase the parts from a retail store. A qualified technician should be used to perform the repairs, someone who knows both the hardware and the hotel’s software requirements, including reinstallation, if required.

Since Windows products are more widely used, there is a greater number of repair services and qualified technicians readily available for prompt repair and timely parts purchases/order shipment. If a front office computer needs a new hard drive or motherboard and it is still under warranty, most repair companies will be able to perform either same day or next day repair.

The average cost of repairing a PC runs from $80 to $150. Some IT repair companies offer service contracts that cover both parts and labor, others cover labor, with parts at a discount. Some reliability surveys do not consider the hotel environment. Dell and Lenovo both offer competitive pricing with good follow-up on warranty requests. These units are easy to service and come with variable warranties, depending on the hotel’s requirements and budget.
Reliability is very important and using a major brand is also.

Geoff Griswold is a field engineer and general manager of the Omni Group, an IT services company. He can be reached at geoff@atlantaomnigroup.com.

 

The most commonly used brands of PCs in hotels are Dell and Lenovo.

Apple rated highest at No. 1 in the 2017 Computer Reliability Report published by RESCUECOM. Samsung and LG rated 2nd and 3rd respectively, while Lenovo rated 4th in the report with a reliability grade of B. Dell rated 5th with a reliability grade of C–.

Apple’s Mac line of computers is known for its reliability. A recent reliability report ranked the Mac line No. 1, which is not surprising given its reputation. Does this mean that a hotel should purchase these systems in bulk?

There are drawbacks to the Mac environment. The biggest is cost. A Mac can cost up to four times what a comparable PC does. Another drawback is, in some cases, hotel software designed for Windows will not operate on a Mac. This reliability report touted the virtues of using Macs, however their usage was all in a pristine office environment, which is hardly the case in a hotel.
 
 

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