Getting the Most From Your Hotel Technology

People using high technology at work and home expect the same high-bandwidth capabilities when they travel. The lock on their door makes them feel safe in the guestroom; guests similarly assume that their use of your Internet systems will be secure. At the same time, your hotel must balance the increasing costs of the service against the potential effect on guest satisfaction. How do you protect your hotel and your guests using the Internet, provide high-quality service and control costs at the same time?

I have outlined several ways to save money. The common element is a focus on your technology solutions.

IMPROVE INFORMATION SECURITY

Wireless transmission of data is not secure unless it is encrypted. To ensure the security and privacy of your guests, be sure your wireless network has implemented WPA (Wi-Fi Protected Access) technology, the most secure method of protecting wireless transmissions. Data that travel through WPA connections are safely encrypted to prevent sneaky hackers from accessing personal information.

Protect users from each other. One virus can infect every person on your network — guests and hotel employees — if users are connected directly on public Internet access. Use a network provider that insulates users through set-up of virtual LANs (local area networks) in the network and that proactively blocks viruses, spam and spyware.

GUEST SATISFACTION

Corporate travelers need to use virtual private networks (VPNs) to connect back to office systems. Each VPN connection requires a unique Internet protocol (IP) address to connect. If not enough IP addresses are available, guests cannot connect to their VPNs. Make sure your provider can provide a pool of IP addresses big enough to handle large-scale company events. When 200 employees from the same corporation want to connect, you'll want the IP addresses available immediately.

What do you do when your biggest event of the year requires more technology than you have at your hotel? Partner with a high-speed Internet provider who has the ability to bring in additional bandwidth or equipment (such as wireless) for corporate customers whose technology requirements exceed your current infrastructure capacity. This assures that you can meet the complex technology needs of all of your conference clients, while avoiding the cost of upgrading your existing infrastructure for just one or two events.

COST SAVINGS

“Free to guest” Internet service doesn't have to be costly to you. A broadband service provider that can manage bandwidth speeds to the individual guestroom level enables hotels to make sure one user does not “hog“ the whole network. It also can provide a cost-effective solution for secure HSIA (high-speed Internet access) to the hotelier.

Sharing a T-1 line with a sister property can cut your costs in half, but be sure half a line is enough to accommodate your guests' connection speeds. An IT provider who proactively monitors bandwidth use at your property is essential, assuring you can upgrade to a full T-1 if future guest usage warrants it.

Integrate VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) in the back office for communication among employees. You'll see the savings in your phone bills.


Gregg Hodges is chief operating officer for iBAHN, a provider of broadband services at hotels and conference centers. Call Hodges at 801-563-2053 or e-mail ghodges@ibahn.com.

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