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A great deal has been written over the years about the viability of moving a hotel’s property-management system (PMS) to the cloud to take advantage of the latest technologies, but hoteliers need to realize that it’s not the only viable option. All platforms have advantages, including self-hosted, private cloud and on-premise solutions that leverage the latest mobile, contact free and web-based technologies. Independent operators can still enhance the digital guest experience, support personalized and mobile check-in, deploy contact free technologies, and secure hotel/guest data even if their PMS does not reside in the cloud. It should not be a question of “Cloud or On Premise?” but rather “Does the PMS solve your business objectives in both technology and service?”

Much has been written in the mainstream hospitality press about the challenges COVID-19 has presented to the industry. Hotels are in more pain than at any time in our memories. Because of the extensive media coverage, I won’t dwell on this topic further in what is primarily a technology column. But it’s the background for this week’s column, and so merits acknowledgement.

Are You All In?
Posted: 07/27/2020

Imagine everyone in your organization engaged, aligned, and performing to their potential. Imagine everyone playing “All In.”

Great organizations have synergy. Their culture allows them to play to a rhythm at a different tempo than the average organization. How do you get that at your organization?

Many front-line hospitality workers rely on tips for a significant part of their paychecks. If not for tips, many hotel associates who serve as waitstaff, bartenders, housekeepers, bell staff, concierges and pool attendants would soon be looking for other jobs. This is a regional issue: in most of Asia and Europe, staff get higher base pay, and tips are either not expected at all, or are truly discretionary. But in the U.S., Canada, Britain and other countries, tips are an important reality, and one that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

As somebody who’s helped to grow a company from 13 people to nearly a thousand, I know very well the excitement that comes with having a mindset focused entirely on growth. Every newly acquired customer, every new office and every milestone means the gap between you and your nearest competitor is that much bigger and that much harder to overtake.



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IT Items to be included in remodeling projects

12/08/2016
by Geoff Griswold

First, there should be a clear definition of the project. This includes time of completion, exact type of materials used, labor/contractor costs and the overall budget. Hotel operations and construction companies/crews must work closely together to insure a smooth project. If the hotel is open and operating during construction, hours of work may be limited. There should be well defined guest and contractor areas.

Some hotels (usually through ownership) have the availability of construction, energy and technology experts to assist in planning rehab projects, but, many hotels do not. Franchises have the availability of brand expertise which is helpful, especially when conforming to brand standards.

The following is a partial list of high-tech items that may be part of a rehab project, along with comments on installation.

Improved energy efficiency- The three areas that a hotel can improve its consumption are heating/cooling, hot water and lighting. Some rehab projects include installing more accurate thermostats and lighting controls that dim or shut off lights when not in use. An energy management system can also be installed during a rehab project.

Self-check-in systems- Kiosks in the lobby area are becoming more common and usually don’t require a rehab project for installation, but if the lobby area is being remodeled, a provision for installation should be made. Usually all that is required is power and a network connection. A more advanced approach is to have tablet computers in the guest rooms. This may require special network connections(wireless) for security reasons.

Re-wiring– During any rehab project is a good time for network rewiring, especially if the walls are being stripped to the studs. A project may include additional wiring runs for a IP telephone system, or more access points for wireless applications. It may be necessary to upgrade existing wiring to achieve greater speed, both for the guest and admin networks. A few hotels have gone to the extent to install fiber optic cable to obtain blazing connection speed. However, many guests’ devices are unable to operate at such speeds.

Additional runs on the admin network are always helpful for the staff, and these should not be overlooked in the planning phase of the project. Also, unsightly wiring can be corrected if sheetrock has been removed.

In-room control panels- In-room control panels are best installed during rehab as they require additional wiring. Some have the ability to control the temperature, lighting and several other functions. Some hotel general managers are concerned with security breaches on wireless models of these devices.

Smart TVs in guestrooms- There has been an increased demand for internet connected TVs in the guestrooms. If a rehab project calls for TV replacement, it makes sense to install an internet-ready TV. This may require additional access points on the guest network or even hard wire connections. Retro fitting existing TVs with an adapter will require the same wiring requirements. These TVs provide the guest with hotel information, messaging, internet, games, movies and local services.

Tablet-based systems- Systems that are placed in guestrooms for ordering room service, check in and out, listening to the radio, and many other functions may require additional wireless access points on a separate network to operate. This requires additional wiring and equipment that is much more easily installed during a rehab project.

Smartphones as guestroom keys- This technology, being led by Starwood and Hilton, enables a guest to use his or her smartphone as a room key. The phone requires an app and for now, a preferred guest membership. “Keys” are sent to guests over the internet and are encrypted. Starwood has done thorough penetration testing to identify any security concerns. Conclusions reached so far found that while venerable to hacking, the technology is at least as secure as using a physical card.

Each guestroom door will have to be retrofitted with the hardware required to accept smartphone input.

One area that is often overlooked during remodeling are the hotel’s high tech equipment rooms. These contain telephone equipment, servers, routers, switched hubs, and many other pieces of technology equipment. Some rooms are poorly lit, lack proper labeling on equipment and wiring, and do not have adequate cooling and security.

In addition, there may be obsolete equipment still on the floors or hanging on the walls.

During rehab is an excellent time to address these issues without significant, major expense. Cooling issues can be addressed with floor units while lighting problems can be addressed with new fixtures. Labeling can be accomplished in stages while security can be enhanced with better locks and security cameras. All unused equipment should be removed.

About The Author
Geoff Griswold
Field Engineer & General Manager
Omni Group


Geoff Griswold is a field Manager and general manager of the Omni Group, an IT services company specializing in the hospitality industry. He can be reached at geoff@atlantaomnigroup.com or at (678) 464-2427.

 
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