TWO STEPS TO TAMING THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS BEAST

Telecommunications thrived in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, with high profits and low maintenance. Fast-forward to 2005, with profits non-existent and guest needs and brand demands ever more complicated. More profitable areas have put telecommunications in the back seat, meaning hotel operators are leaving dollars on the table.

Telecommunications costs can be controlled and maintained while delivering greater profits for the property with enhanced guest satisfaction. Here are two steps that can lead to efficiency in both operations and the bottom line.

Take a comprehensive approach

Most hotels take a patchwork approach to integrating needed telecommunications technologies. For example, when installing high speed Internet access, it is not uncommon to allow the HSIA provider to implement and manage the bandwidth. Giving the vendor control over products and services leads simply to incremental costs and inefficient operations. The vendors' objective is to make their products work; they often can't see, nor do they care about, the big picture of your hotel's operations.

To control this situation, hoteliers need to manage the product and services holistically. When it comes to HSIA, bandwidth is a commodity hotels should control. As your guests' bandwidth needs change, having control over bandwidth gives you the flexibility to meet their needs and respond to new or more efficient technologies in the market. For instance, many carriers offer aggressive rates and terms on bundled voice and Internet services-services that your HSIA provider will not be aware of nor seek for your benefit. However, leveraging the ability to combine products and services will give you operational flexibility and enable better control of your bottom line.

Take advantage of the available products

The telecommunications industry offers many new and beneficial products that can help you increase available facilities (voice and data) while decreasing your cost.

The most recent development has been the dynamic allocation T-1. This product offers a hotel the ability to have both a fully managed T-1 of data (1.54 megabytes) and up to 30 voice lines for a lower cost than most hotels spend for voice services alone. Dynamic allocation is Voiceover IP (VOIP), which has the advantage of your ability to keep your current phone system. Since the local carrier manages a T-1, you avoid a lot of the pitfalls normally associated with VOIP. There are many variations of this product that fit a variety of needs, but the basic concept is simple: reducing cost while increasing service.

Telecommunications can be confusing. However, developing a strategy and managing your telecommunications and technology now can save you many headaches down the road. More importantly, it can save you money.


Trevor Warner is president of Warner Consulting Group, an independent technology and telecommunications consulting company based in Columbus, OH that specializes in the hospitality industry. Reach Warner at (614)486-4636 or trevorwarner@warnerconsultinggroup.com.

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