At Avaya Engage I ran into Hospitality Expert Speleos Dravillas – now at Percipia.
Hotels have a grudge against telephones, and Speleos wants to fix it.
Phones used to be a profit-center for hotels, but due to A) overcharging and B) cell phones, no one uses hotel phones any more — at least not for actual calls. Thus, most hotels go with the cheapest possible solution. That’s usually an onsite bare-bones PBX, analog lines, and the cheapest but rugged, analog phones they can find. I think that’s just crazy.
It’s crazy because the minimum approach to anything in a competitive industry is a fool’s strategy. There’s several better options. Consider some of the problems hotels have. Their clocks are always wrong, if they are concerned about someone in the room all they can do is knock or call (before breaking the door down) — wouldn’t a hands-free intercom make sense? The connected world is invading hotels with controllable t-stats, curtains, and lights – so they need a control unit. And, they are spending gobs of money on either iHome products or other annoying solutions for the smartphone. Those and several other reasons tell me there’s a smarter endpoint strategy here than a dumb analog phone.
Some UC companies have really upped their game in hospitality. This includes Avaya, ALE, and NEC (see below). For others, as well as those, Percipia offers a third-party solution for hotels. The only cloud company I’ve seen getting much penetration in hospitality is BroadSoft, but I’m not sure that will interest it’s new parent, Cisco.
Some recent UC vendor enhancements for hospitality that caught my attention:
- Avaya just launched a series of SIP endpoints optimized for hospitality. This includes a typical-looking hotel room phone that is SIP instead of IP. They also created a new Vantage phone (touch-screen phone) with hard keys, and offer a Vantage phone option that doesn’t have a camera (smart).
- ALE is doing some very clever concepts in hospitality including a deal where the hotel only pays for the phone system if the room is booked. I think that concept will eventually catch-on with the enterprise. “So Mr. CFO, you don’t think you need a phone system? How about we install one free, and charge your company $1 for each call made or received?”
- NEC has paired some impressive video-analytics with its hospitality phone system. It can track and identify guests, alert staff of anything from a medical situation to a long line at the front desk, and scan areas areas for suspicious people and activities.