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March 01, 2006
Adam Dubroff

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© 2006 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

High-speed Internet service has become a standard that mainstream guests demand. Most of those guests also typically use a cellular phone over a hotel phone. Today and in the near future many of those same mainstream guests choose to use voice over the Internet (VoIP) rather than pay for more expensive traditional phone services as well.

According to a Sept. 12, 2005 press release announcing the eBay acquisition of global Internet communications company Skype Technologies (Skype) for $2.6 billion, the company reported that there were 54 million Skype members with approximately 150,000 users being added everyday. The Skype users either talk to other Skype users for free or pay a small charge for calls to a standard phone. On Feb. 8, 2006 at CNNMoney.com (http://money.cnn.com) Vonage officials announced their $250 million IPO project that the number of VoIP users will increase from 8.2 million to 15.3 million users by 2007. In an April 4, 2005 article titled, “A Boom in VoIP” Sean Michel Kerner of IDC projects over 3 million users were expected to sign up for residential VoIP services in 2005 and 27 million users are anticipated by 2009.

VoIP is here to stay and referring to the end of phone service as we’ve known it, Michael Powell, chairman of the Federal Trade Commission and a supporter of VoIP and Skype advances, was quoted in the Feb. 15, 2004 edition of Fortune. Powell said, “I knew it was over when I downloaded Skype.” Niklas Zennstrom, CEO and co-founder of Skype, is quoted on the Skype Web site, “The idea of charging for calls belongs to the last century. Skype software gives people new power to affordably stay in touch with their friends and family by taking advantage of their technology and connectivity investments.”

What type of experience do you think new hotel phone service users get compared to new Skype and VoIP users over the next several years?

Today, millions of hotel guests are using Skype and VoIP services with millions of new users anticipated in the near future. Smart hoteliers looking to satisfy the needs of these new school travelers will be shifting the way they think about leveraging their Internet investments with Skype and VoIP.

Guests will be making Skype calls direct to hotels and initiating Skype calls from hotel Web sites for information as well as reservations, all for free. Reservation centers soon will realize major savings using Skype and VoIP to replace traditional phone service. Corporate headquarters will be Skype and VoIP enabled, eliminating significant monthly phone bills. Hotels leveraging Skype and VoIP technologies will deliver a new level of service providing hotel guests with free long distance and conferencing abilities. Hotel technology leaders today are already testing and planning schemes to implement Skype and VoIP. It is time to “86” the old hotel phone service business model.

Adam Dubroff is CEO of TravelGlue LLC, a Colorado-based company specializing in best of breed Web solutions for the travel industry. Dubroff has been an early adapter starting with applications leveraging Windows, Lotus Notes and Internet solutions for a group of Marriott Residence Inn hotels in 1994 along with introducing free guest Internet and VoIP long distance services in 2002 at the Staybridge Suites in Denver. Most recently in December 2005, TravelGlue was recognized by CNN in an article titled, “Using Tech to Tackle Hotel Phone Bills,” for its’ implementation of a VoIP solution at the Marriott Residence Inn, New Haven, Conn., which is believed to be the first hotel in the world to provide totally free global phone service for hotel guests. Adam can be contacted at adam@travelglue.com or skype: adamdubroff.

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