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Point – Hosted IP PBX: Why would I want anything else?

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October 01, 2011
Dan Phillips

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Your hotel has had this double-sided, refrigerator-sized box of electronic equipment with blinking lights and spare computer cards lying around in your telephone room gobbling up electricity like it’s free for years now.  It’s called a phone system and it’s connected to an Italian-sized wedding party’s worth of spaghetti cabling up on the walls and dangling from holes in the ceiling.  Over on the wall you’ve got numerous rectangular boxes, some of them with orange faceplates, some of them just barely hanging on to one last screw.  In the corner of the room, someone has left their batteries for a boat they once owned.  There’s a metal rack to one side that has a few monochromatic monitors so covered in dust that if anyone tried to clean them they’d probably crumble.  And this is the investment you’re protecting instead of buying into the cloud!

A hosted IP PBX solution puts the majority of the equipment in the provider’s numerous data centers.  Sure, there is equipment on site, but we’re talking a stack of a couple of pizza boxes instead of something big enough to start another coral reef down in the Florida Keys.  And, the energy savings will make your sustainability team much happier.

Seriously, there are significant benefits to a hosted solution.  The positives grow as more hotels within an owner’s or manager’s portfolio implement a hosted strategy.
Unlike a traditional phone system that once purchased is pretty much what you will keep, unless you purchase a forklift upgrade (remember Y2K?), a hosted solution is pretty much always green.  The provider will enhance software and/or fix software glitches and those improvements are delivered to every hotel client under contract that night.  And, because the software sits in the provider’s own data centers, problem diagnosis is much quicker, many times transparent to the hotel.  No longer will you hear the squelch of modems, or have to toggle a switch between A and B on a little white box.  New feature sets, even those initiated by other hoteliers, are downloaded to your system for your use with no extra cost.

Before cloud was the hottest word at HITEC, that word was convergence.  With a hosted solution, hotels can contract for one data circuit (or one data solution, like bonding T1s and cable modems) for both data and voice.  The voice can be prioritized, but used dynamically, not dedicated.  This means that phone calls will only use bandwidth when they are made.  With a traditional phone system, you are paying for that T1 or PRI whether it is being used or not.  In a converged solution, HSIA can always use the pipe, and voice only when needed.

Mother Nature seems to be on a rampage lately, creating natural disasters here and there.  With a hosted solution, with the provider having multiple data centers, traffic can be routed in many different ways, automatically.  Since the voice is actually data and the data streams are always searching for the optimum way to reach their destination, network outages have little effect.  This is unlike a traditional phone system; with POTS lines or T1s and such contracted to one carrier, and if nature intervenes on that path between the hotel and the carrier, then that hotel is out of luck.
For groups with multiple hotels there are added benefits.  One of those would be to tie sister properties together, regardless of geography.  Multiple hotels can now share one hotel operator station, or one reservations center.  Sister properties can have true extension to extension dialing, even if one is in New York City and the other in Los Angeles, with no long distance charges.

Another benefit would be something called SIP trunk pooling.  For example, let’s say that there are 10 more or less 200-room hotels in one portfolio.  With a traditional phone system each hotel would most likely have two T1s and eight or so POTS lines (a grand total of 560 talk paths).  If one hotel really was making no phone calls, while another was completely busied out, the busy hotel would have no access to the resources of the sister property.  SIP trunk pooling would enable this portfolio of hotels to perhaps contract for 20 talk paths at each hotel, but put them into a pool to be shared.  So, if one hotel had a 21st simultaneous phone call, it could borrow a talk path from another hotel.  The cost would be reduced from 560 talk paths to 200.  Each hotel would experience no busy signals.  And, did I mention, that all North American dialing is included in the flat rate?

One last positive to include, as just an example of the flexibility of hosted solutions, has to do with DID numbers.  Assume that your hotel is up in Vermont but most of your clientele comes from New York City.  You can use DID numbers that are local to New York City but will still ring into your hotel phones in Vermont.  This gives your clients the impression that you have presence where you don’t, and enables them to call you via a local phone call.

Hosted IP PBX is robust, flexible, cost-saving and future proofed.

©2011 Hospitality Upgrade
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