Phones With the Look

It's not only innards that matter in guestroom telephones. It's their look and how they fit with the room. In the past several years, the boutique concept has swept the major brands, leading to creation of several new ones, such as NYLO. At Choice, it's Cambria Suites; at Starwood, it's Element and aloft; and there are new, modern iterations of legacy brands including Hyatt and Wyndham.

Meanwhile, the guestroom telephone has for the most part remained resolutely functional. While some companies may want it to stay that way, others want to bring telephone design into the modern age. Yet others are eager to make the guestroom phone more user-friendly.

“There's a high-tech look about the guestroom now,” says Jose Quiros, vice president of sales and marketing for TeleMatrix/Scitec. “Any new thing they're coming up with is much more modern-looking,” adds T/S Marketing and Information Manager William Hazelton.

Both executives have noticed that telephones have disappeared from pictures of guestrooms in advertising. “We've been looking at these magazine adds and the phones have disappeared,” says Quiros. “They don't show the phones in the ads because they don't fit the rooms anymore,” adds Hazelton. “The old style does not fit the cutting-edge look.”

To raise the profile of the guestroom telephone, TeleMatrix/Scitec hired a European industrial design company that has done work for cutting-edge consumer technology companies including Bang & Olufsen, a Danish firm known for its sleek, minimalist audio and video components.

“The look was the initial thing,” Hazelton says. “It's modern, European styling.” He's citing the Marquis 3300, a corded telephone with a look designed to complement the flat-screen TVs and other elements of the modern guestroom. “It's a designer telephone, and when you hold the handset, there's a very comfortable, smooth feel to it.”

In addition, the middle plate beneath the handset can be customized. “The two-tone possibility enables people to match their color schemes within the room,” Hazelton says. “That middle plate can be red, tan or lime, whatever color you want it to be.”

In addition, the phone is RoHS-compliant, or lead-free. That environmental standard is a requirement in European appliances, but not in the U.S. — yet. The new TeleMatrix/Scitec phones also have Pass-Port, a proprietary connection on the side that facilitates high-speed Internet access. TeleMatrix/Scitec isn't the only phone company targeting lodging with something new. Bittel USA, which exhibited for the first time at the recent HITEC in Orlando, offers several new features in its phones, like “never-off,” which allows an accidentally disconnected phone to reset after a pre-set time delay; a “soft faceplate,” or one-piece membrane film attached directly to the circuit board to form a sealed, configurable and printable surface; and a second dial-pad in the handset extending the functionality of its cordless offering.

At HITEC, PhoneSuite debuted its 495-port PBX, designed for a hotel of up to 475 rooms. In the past, its PBX could accommodate only up to 220, according to PhoneSuite President Frank Melville. PhoneSuite also now offers SIP trunking, or voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) lines that feed a PBX. “Now you can get a VoIP phone line that hooks into your phone the same way the regular phone lines do, but instead, calls go out over the Internet,” Melville says. “The monthly price for that phone line and the cost per minute for those calls is about half what the phone company charges.”

Inn-Phone is offering a new, single-line phone series. “People are moving from two-line to single-line because with high-speed Internet access in the room, there's not as much need for two lines,” says Doug Zagha, Inn-Phone president. Only five years into the lodging market, Inn-Phone targets budget and midscale hotels. Its parent company is the country's largest supplier of patient-room telephones to hospitals, “so hotels were the next most likely progression.”

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