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Photograph Courtesy of Michaela Kobyakov (photo: Michaela Kobyakov)
Photograph Courtesy of Michaela Kobyakov
28.08.2013, 14:33

The Host with the Most

Author: Extreme Networks

Wilson Lai, Technical Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Extreme Networks, shares his views on how the hospitality industry can enhance guest experience and meet their business goals, with the help of a strong, versatile network built to last.

 

A shift has been seen in the hospitality industry. The need to focus on the consumer has led to a ‘back-to-basics’ approach amongst players in the hospitality sector in order to further differentiate themselves. Increasingly, the hospitality industry will be looking to develop better integrated systems and shared services by replacing creaking core legacy systems with ‘self-healing’ technology. Building a strong and versatile network foundation in order to create a safe and friendly environment where guests feel ‘home-away-from-home’ is imperative in maintaining customer loyalty. In order to do this, hospitality professionals need to pay attention to what guests want. According to an amenities survey conducted by Hotels.com, only 11 percent of guests were willing to pay for wireless access. Another 34 percent stated that free WiFi access is their biggest priority when choosing a hotel, whether travelling for business or leisure.

It is undeniable that mobile technologies have now taken a huge leap, causing major disruptions for many organizations within the hospitality industry. In fact, the legacy network system has been stressed beyond the limit to support the implementation of ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) programs, stemming from the proliferation of end-user devices, and the need for data access over the public network. To compound the problem, different regions around the world have diverse preferences and needs with regards to BYOD programs.  According to a BYOD whitepaper published by Ovum, 44 percent of users in mature economies prefer separate devices for work and personal use, while 75 percent of users in emerging economies embrace flexibility in using personal devices for work and play.

Wilson Lai, Technical Director, Asia Pacific and Japan, Extreme Networks, shares his views on how the hospitality industry can enhance guest experience and meet their business goals, with the help of a strong, versatile network built to last.



The network – backbone of hospitality operations

The network is a key component of operations within the hospitality sector, which is often overlooked and underfunded, especially in recent years. Unsurprisingly, most organizations assume their network works well, and therefore do not even consider looking at new technologies to overcome any future challenges. However, they fail to realize the big role wireless networks play, as it permeates every aspect of hospitality operations.

The hospitality industry is one of the most challenging sectors to keep up to date with the latest technologies. Imagine walking into Galaxy Macau™, a premier Asia-centric resort, entertainment and gaming destination.  Almost everything you see and hear is connected to the network, such as the light and sign controllers, background music, cash registers, and surveillance systems. Additionally, WiFi and data services offered in hotel rooms, as well as the connection to the Internet Protocol television (IPTV), are all reliant on the same network. The variety and complexity of network services are already daunting to even the most senior network engineers. The mobility and cloud computing evolution only makes the network more complex. Automated software simplified configuration, troubleshooting and status monitoring enable the resort to handle similar tasks for all switches simultaneously, saving time and resources. All of these point to a singular goal, spending precious time where it is most important – keeping hotel guests happy. That being said, the hospitality industry needs to go one step further.



Aim to over-deliver – good service will always be a differentiator
Technology needs of guests are quickly surpassing the capabilities of many of today’s hospitality organizations. Here’s why:

a) Multiple devices

Today’s connected guests typically carry more than one device with the ability to connect to a wireless network. They expect the same kind of network speed across these devices.

b) Security

Guests need to be safe, and feel safe. For example, business travellers who require the ability to establish VPN connections to their office, arguably would want a secure network which would not result in leaks of their company’s confidential data. Similarly, when guests pay with their credit cards or part with their personal details, sensitive information could potentially fall into the wrong hands if there happens to be unauthorized access to the hotel’s critical data.

c) Connectivity

With more and more hotels offering free wireless access to meet guests’ expectations that such an amenity should be free, hospitality organizations need to go one step further to offer high-speed, free wireless access with extensive coverage. Guests want to be able to connect from their hotel rooms and not be confined to common areas, such as lobbies. They expect consistent network connectivity when moving around their rooms or suites. To put it simply, they anticipate the same kind of speed, dependability and convenience their office or home network provides.


The network strain
As a result of these requirements and increased usage by multiple parties, most wireless networks in hospitality organizations are under pressure to keep up their performance. With the expansion of hotel properties with additional rooms, conference facilities or gaming centers, the wireless network needs to be able to cover bigger areas. There can be no room for bottlenecks and system latencies. The wireless network must not fail. It must provide 100 percent connectivity at all times and have sufficient bandwidth to support demand.

Get up to speed
With network infrastructure constantly evolving, proprietary protocols limits future network investments because of vendor lock-in. The thought of implementing network cabling infrastructure might be overwhelming to hospitality organizations, however as the saying goes, ‘you reap what you sow’. The answer is simple – with high-performance, low latency 10GbE and 40 GbE switches, Extreme Networks’ open standard, end-to-end solutions help multiple hospitality organizations around the world serve their wired and wireless network.

In our increasingly technology-centric world, hospitality organizations need to deploy well-designed and tested network infrastructure in order to provide robust, high-speed internet access and meet the demands for world-class service from their guests.

 

Visit www.extremenetworks.com for additional information.

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