Seattle's Hotel 1000 is raising the standard for personal service with innovative guest services delivered with the touch of a button on a Cisco IP Phone.
A luxury hotel's primary challenge is differentiating itself from competing properties. In Seattle-a market dominated by boutique hotels-the task is especially challenging. A new arrival to Seattle, Hotel 1000 includes 120 guest rooms, 47 condominium units, and a commitment to personalized, five-star services for guests and residents. Not content to simply meet their needs, the Hotel aims to anticipate them, in order to deliver customized service at every opportunity.
"Tailoring the guest environment is critical to retention," says Brian Flaherty, general manager of Hotel 1000. "The way that we will achieve our goals is through an information and technology infrastructure that enables us to deliver superior service to guests and efficiently support our staff and management."
Flaherty says that the three primary customers of the Hotel 1000 infrastructure are guests and residents, staff members, and the hotel's owners. The hotel's technology infrastructure must support advanced guest service applications, which equip front-line staff with the tools and capabilities that they need to anticipate guests' needs and deliver excellent service. Hotel 1000's infrastructure must also increase management efficiency, to help the hotel operate profitably in spite of rising utility, labor, medical, and other operational costs. The third infrastructure requirement is that it enables the hotel to quickly and easily deploy new services-not only over the next few months or years, but in the future as new technologies and applications emerge.
For example, travelers' demands for high-speed Internet access from their hotel rooms emerged almost overnight. Today 75 percent of business travelers travel with laptops, and 62 percent spend 75 minutes online per day accessing corporate networks and the Internet. Supporting the technology needs of travelers has become mission-critical for hotels, yet deploying the appropriate technology can be difficult in older properties. Hotel 1000 knew that the ability to accommodate new applications is important to its competitive advantage.
"To achieve our vision of the ultimate guest experience, we sought partnerships with established, forward-thinking organizations that had already built communications infrastructures," says James Simkins, senior vice president of MTM Luxury Lodging, the hotel's management firm. "Working with Cisco Systems, Percipia, and Valcros, we chose a Cisco Connected Hotel solution."
Complementing the Cisco
® Connected Hotel solution, Cisco Connected Real Estate solutions use the power of the network to deploy building intelligence, deliver collaboration and mobility services, and allow building owners and managers to easily develop new services and revenue streams. At Hotel 1000, a single IP network, based on the Cisco Smart Business Roadmap, enabled the management team to reduce the costs normally associated with deploying multiple hotel networks and services, simplify operations, and enable a wide range of innovative voice, video, and data services throughout the property.
"The Cisco Connected Hotel solution provides us with the infrastructure to permit a number of new applications. We will measure our return on investment by our labor and cost savings and the overall efficiency of the network. We will measure our success when guests return and say that their experience was so wonderful that they could not wait to get back."
Percipia, Inc. is a Cisco partner and an expert in designing and implementing hospitality telephony solutions. Hotel 1000's IP telephony solution is based on Cisco Unified Communications solutions and Cisco 7900 Series IP Phones, which are integrated with call accounting, voice-mail, and the hotel's property management system. In addition, Percipia developed innovative features that make it easy for members of groups staying at the hotel to communicate with each other.
"At Hotel 1000, Cisco IP Phones are far more than calling devices," says Chris Farrar, Ph.D., president of Percipia. "They are powerful interactive Unified Communication tools that deliver unmatched functionality while making a powerful statement about Hotel 1000's commitment to a high-quality experience."
Percipia teamed with Valcros, also a Cisco partner, to design and deploy the Cisco network foundation that supports the Percipia voice solutions. Valcros also integrated and optimized applications from 17 different vendors to form the backbone of Hotel 1000's service delivery network.
"Hotel 1000's owners and management had the foresight to design the information and communication infrastructure at the beginning of the building planning process," says Mark Munger, president of Valcros. "That foresight enabled us to lay a foundation that maximizes hotel management and guest service delivery-from opening day into the future."
The network was designed to facilitate operations and services delivery from the lowest level of the underground parking garage to the rooftop mechanical systems. Cisco switches provide core switching within the hotel and connect Hotel 1000 to the management company's headquarters. On every third floor of the 24-story building, additional Cisco switches aggregate traffic for switching over the main network. The Cisco switches also supply Power over Ethernet for Cisco Aironet 1000 Lightweight Access Points located through the hotel.
Cisco 2800 Series Integrated Services Routers provide connectivity to the public switched telephone network, enabling guests and residents to make local and long distance calls from their Cisco IP Phones. The routers also support a secure Virtual Private Network connection to the management headquarters.
In each guestroom, a Cisco 7970 IP Phone features a high-resolution, color touch screen from which guests can order services. High-speed Internet access is also provided through the phone switch port. A Cisco 7905 IP Phone at the bedside provides convenient basic calling services. A video-on-demand set-top box is connected to the network, delivering free television and videos on demand. The mini-bar is network-connected, as are the room thermostats, which allow the guest to control room temperature. The entire hotel, guest rooms included, enjoys wireless Internet access. Other devices, such as the room's safe, can be easily added to the network in the future.
"We tested all applications against one overriding principle: did it have a defined benefit to one of our three customer groups?" says Simkins. "Each application that we have deployed to date either improves the guest experience, helps staff deliver better service, or improves manageability and return on investment. The other criterion was that applications had to be intuitive-they could not frighten a guest or cause the guest to have to ask for help-or else they would defeat their purpose."
Tailoring Each Guest's Experience
Guests can specify certain preferences at check-in, such as room temperature or type of music played. That data is captured in the hotel property management system and sent to the room automatically, so the thermostat is set correctly and the desired music is playing when the guest walks in. If the guest is returning, his or her preferences were captured from the room's devices at the last visit, and the room will be adjusted accordingly. For example, the mini-bar will be stocked with favorite items and a preferred style of artwork will be displayed on the room's plasma screen. At check-in, the room's telephony services are activated for the guest, with long-distance calling and voice-mail.
Room thermostats use passive infrared technology to detect a person's presence, so that housekeeping staff can tell whether or not the room is occupied. Hotel 1000 has completely eliminated staff having to knock on doors, instead substituting soft chimes when room service or other requested items are delivered.
Enabling One-Touch Control
Cisco IP Phones provide Hotel 1000 guests with one-touch control over services. Guests no longer need a thick telephone book to locate nearby restaurants or attractions. Hotel 1000 guest phones are preset, enabling guests to find information, activate their Do-Not-Disturb sign, reset the thermostat, or speak with a live staff member.
Superior Voice Quality Improves Productivity
With the ability to prioritize voice calls over the network, as well as the IP Phones' high quality, the voice quality of every phone call is outstanding. Business users, the hotel's target market, enjoy clear voice quality, improving regular communication, as well as helping ensure clear conference calls from the room's Cisco IP Phone and speaker.
"When a person on the line can hear a pin drop 20 feet from the speaker on the other end, it makes a statement all by itself," says Farrar. "Hotel 1000 knows what guests need to do business and they provide it."
Providing Group Calling Features
Booking corporate groups will form a significant percentage of Hotel 1000's business. Percipia created a distinctive group directory application that streamlines communication between group members while reducing the call load on hotel operators. The application dynamically builds a list of group members as they check in, and the list appears only on group members' Cisco IP Phones. When one group member wants to call another group member, he or she touches the person's name from the list and presses a button to be connected. The call bypasses the operator. Group members can instantly view who has checked in and text messages also can be broadcast to all group members' phones.
Enhancing Security and Guest Productivity
Hotel 1000 uses IP video cameras in the motor court and throughout the property for security monitoring. The IP cameras are easy to install, enabling staff to easily move cameras for additional coverage where needed. The Cisco network is capable of delivering IP television and high-definition television images, so corporate guests can maximize their productivity with multimedia sessions and conferences.
Responsive Valet Service
With limited parking available in Seattle, Hotel 1000 designed three levels of underground parking to accommodate guests' vehicles. Working with Valcros, Hotel 1000 developed a phone-based application enables guests and residents to request their cars and hotel staff to quickly and accurately deliver the correct vehicle. To request their car, a person presses a button on the Cisco IP phone. The phones connect to the valet parking system, sending a request to valet staff's Cisco IP Phones to retrieve that car. As the car is requested, the application also activates a video feed on the motor court IP camera so that the guest or resident can see when the car is delivered and go down to retrieve it. The valet who acknowledges the request presses a button on the IP Phone and obtains the car's make and model and parking space information. As each car is delivered, delivery is acknowledged and the data is tracked in the property management system, where it provides useful information for helping improve services. The parking application saves time for the guest and enables valets to be highly efficient and responsive.
Helping Staff Maximize Productivity
Benefits to the hotel's staff are immense. By extending communication anywhere in the hotel, staff members can always be in touch and provide high levels of service. By saving time, automating responses to many requests, and providing detailed information about guests and preferences, the Cisco Connected Hotel solution also allows staff to have more personal contact with guests.
Tracking Assets Efficiently
Hotel 1000 plans to deploy radio frequency identification technology for tracking room service carts, and audio and video assets, and helping identify the closest staff member to a guest who requires assistance. For condominium residents, the technology will identify them as they enter the building, allowing them immediate access to elevators and amenities.
Extending the Hotel Brand
The Cisco IP Phones' full-color, high-resolution screens lend themselves to displaying stunning visuals and extending the Hotel 1000 brand to all guests and residents. The in-house restaurant can display appetizing photographs of the day's offering, enabling a guest to press a button and immediately order it. Custom visuals will feature the Hotel 1000 logo and visually connect with the hotel's Web-site.
"The partnership among the many vendors who are helping us achieve our vision has been extraordinary," says Pete Deleuw, one of the hotel's owners. "This collaboration is not only resulting in new applications for their products, it is also opening all of our eyes to future possibilities."
"The Cisco Connected Hotel solution provides us with the infrastructure to permit a number of new applications," says Simkins. "We will measure our return on investment by our labor and cost savings and the overall efficiency of the network. We will measure our success when guests return and say that their experience was so wonderful that they could not wait to get back."
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This customer story is based on information provided by the Hotel 1000, and describes how that particular organization benefits from the deployment of Cisco products. Many factors may have contributed to the results and benefits described; Cisco does not guarantee comparable results elsewhere.
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