Every Hotel has a PBX or switchboard and many are 10, 15 or even 20 years old. However, there has been little reason to change, no new software features that will revolutionise the guest experience or increase revenue and no new hardware that will do the same. They generally just tend to sit in the basement working away making and receiving calls, until one day… without warning… it goes wrong!
If the unthinkable happens and your old PBX stops working, what happens next? Your lifeline to the outside world has just been cut off and nobody can call you to make a booking! You call your PBX maintainer who may have to inform you that some of your old PBX parts are hard to get hold or even that getting manufacturer support for that element of your system would be difficult as that part went End Of Life several years ago! What next? In the interim you need to at least receive calls from the advertised number, so you or your maintainer have to call the network provider who then agrees that they will place a call divert on the main number but be patient as it could take a few hours. Suddenly there is a reason to move your PBX to the cloud, just like you have done for numerous other business critical services.
Cloud telephony has been around for a number of years now, for millions of homes and for many small businesses and larger enterprises, a cloud telephony solution is the norm and something they have had reliably in place for a number of years. Most, if not all of Wall Street is run from the cloud following 9/11 and companies of all sizes across the world have moved to cloud telephony.
Hospitality is a little different though, in the days before mobile phones the hotel PBX was a real revenue generator but those days are over and your old PBX is now just a cost and a business risk. There are however hospitality specific interfaces to PMS, call accounting, fire panels and guest response systems as well as guest voice mail and wake up calls that may have made moving to the cloud challenging in the past.
The good news is that thanks to specialist hospitality sector suppliers (system integrators) like Fourteen IP and major vendors such as Broadsoft, the rock solid and versatile nature of a cloud telephony solution has been developed to meet the needs of hoteliers both large and small, accommodating the hotel specific interfaces mentioned above. In fact major global groups such as Marriott and Hilton have now standardised on cloud telephony worldwide and many groups continue to join them but why?
Cloud Telephony is always up to date, super resilient and comes with a low capital cost. There is no ‘big box’ to pay for, and most Hotels can keep the phones they already have in their bedrooms. You will also instantly free up floor space and reduce power costs, line rental costs and support costs. You will also be better connected, work smarter and be able to offer a superior level of guest service. Guests could also benefit from voice integrated apps that they could load on to their smartphones. These integrated apps could allow guests to directly call any of their favourite Hotel facilities such as the restaurant or SPA. Guests can forget having to wait in the room to be contacted by other guests or hotel staff, they can be reached no matter where they are on the Hotel premises
So what benefits will a cloud PBX bring?
Your new cloud PBX is always up to date with at least two new software releases each and every year, you will always have the latest features available and the system is always current… and all at no additional cost. This means that once you have a cloud-based PBX, you should never need to buy a new voice system again!
Integration to the PMS, plus call accounting, staff voicemail and guest voicemail is provided via Jazz or TigerTMS, which are both industry standard solutions you know and trust. With PMS integration we can even display a guests loyalty status on the switchboard screen when they call.
Your PBX comes with a fixed monthly cost (excluding call charges) that includes 24×7 support and all the updates to the platform, you may very well be surprised at the comparison between what your monthly payments are now and what they would be for a Cloud PBX.
Cloud telephony is highly resilient so if your internet service goes down, calls will route via your backup connection (e.g. ADSL, ISDN2, PSTN, etc.), if your backup goes down too then calls will still find their way to your designated mobiles or whichever number(s) you have told the platform to call. The Cloud PBX does all of this completely automatically.
If a traditional PBX system stops working then that’s it, no more service, however, that is not the case with a Cloud based PBX. With a Cloud PBX there is typically not just one system but two and they are housed in geo-graphically diverse carrier grade data centres and connected to multiple Tier 1 carriers to ensure resiliency. Therefore if the primary Cloud PBX platform goes down, then the secondary system takes over in just a few milliseconds and customer service is not impacted.
What about adding new users and features?
Cloud Telephony is provided as a service, so adding and removing new users and features is very simple. Users can be added individually without having to buy extension cards or licences in blocks of 6, or 12 as with a traditional PBX. There is also no need to worry about system capacity, as there is no limit on how many handsets can be deployed at your hotel.
Need more call centre agents to handle a major campaign that you have running for the next few months? No problem, a Cloud PBX allows you to add additional features without having to buy any new system hardware (I assume they need devices?), licences or having an engineer sent to site to install it. Extra call centre agents can simply be added for the duration of the campaign and then turned off again. Thereby enabling extreme flexibility to your system without having to pay capital or being tied in to long term contracts. Even adding advanced features such as PCI compliant call recording which would generally have a very high capital cost can be added simply and easy on an agent by agent basis for a low monthly cost per user.
All of this means that you only pay for what you need and when you need it.
What About our DECT System?
In most cases you can retain your existing DECT wireless system and connect it to the cloud platform in the same way that you would connect your existing analogue bedroom phones. Integration with fire panels and guest response systems will also remain in place. If you have wireless VoIP phones then phones from Ascom, Mitel and Spectralink will all continue to work after a little re-programming.
We can also provide an application for your mobile handset that allows you to make calls as if you were sat at your desk.
What if we have more than one Hotel?
Groups can benefit in even more ways with the ability to centralise services such as guest services, reservations and event bookings etc. and even do this by time of day or day of the week. Centralising services allows you to be more efficient and can help reduce costs considerably. Cloud PBX also allows for centralised management of staff in multiple locations. This means that hotel staff can all belong to the same contact centre group and be monitored by a single supervisor even if those staff are located in different properties.
Calls between sites are free of charge and carried in HD and admin users will benefit from a shared telephone directory and the ability to call each other quickly and simply.
- IVR / Auto Attendant works across multiple sites allowing the system to transfer calls anywhere.
- Switchboards can be centralised or calls can overflow from one hotel receptionist to another in a different hotel.
- Single dial plan across sites.
- Staff can be moved between properties without having to retrain them on how to use the system or what numbers to call for what department.
- Guest Services can be centralised and reached by guests from any property.
- Contact Centre (ACD) functionality is managed above property giving central control of agents in multiple locations.
We have Hotels outside the UK
If you have hotels throughout Europe or beyond, then it’s important to choose a partner with experience in providing Cloud PBX services in multiple countries. Retaining your local number, presenting your number both nationally and internationally and also approval and connectivity with your local emergency services is vital. Ensure your cloud PBX provider has international interconnects with multiple international Tier 1 carriers and that all of your numbers can be retained.
The move to the cloud for hotel telephony is well and truly underway and with a solution for hotels large and small and individual or part of a group then there is simply no reason to not take a look at a cloud PBX. Evolution Voice is the leading Cloud PBX for hotels in EMEA and live in 10 countries and growing fast. For more information see www.evolutionvoice.com or contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org