Cisco Catalyst 2960-C Series Switches

High-Tech Hotel Upgrades Network to Enhance Guest Experience

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Mandarin Oriental, the award-winning luxury hotel group, sought to update the legacy technology at its Boston property to enhance the guest experience and improve business efficiency. With the help of Cisco switching solutions and technologies such as Universal Power Over Ethernet (UPOE), Smart Install and Auto Smart Ports, Mandarin Oriental, Boston was able to integrate a higher level of technology into guestrooms and meet the demands of tech-savvy travelers.

Company Overview

Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group is the award-winning owner and operator of some of the world's most prestigious hotels and resorts. An industry leader in providing state-of-the-art technology, the Group now operates, or has under development, 45 hotels representing over 11,000 rooms in 26 countries. Mandarin Oriental strongly regards high-tech as a major factor in business growth and lower operational costs.

Business Challenge

Like most luxury hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Boston aimed to incorporate greater technology into its guestrooms to enhance the guest experience. But when hotels add more technology and IP-enabled devices into guestrooms, they realize a need to provide a common platform (i.e., the network) to allow all devices to communicate with each other and to maximize operational efficiency in maintenance, management and troubleshooting.

“We continue to see hotels across the globe request reliable, seamless and ubiquitous connectivity and expect us to deliver a solution that meets those needs in addition to reducing their technology footprint onsite,” says Nick Matthews, systems engineer, Cisco. “Deploying a unified network and a solution like UPOE is a step in the right direction, and we are already seeing great results from hotels like Mandarin Oriental, Boston.”

In addition to a solid networking platform, hoteliers have to offer ubiquitous connectivity that allows devices to operate without power in case of an emergency. For example, guests will need access to telephones and alarm systems in case of a fire or power outage.

Since hotel technology solutions must be easy to install, auto-configurable and remotely managed, a small-scale, consolidated IT staff would be best equipped to address these challenges.

In 2012, Mandarin Oriental, Boston was in search for a new technology provider to help upgrade its legacy networking infrastructure and increase power across the property. The hotel called for two color-displayed phones and an access point to remain available during a power outage that could occur on all floors. Mandarin Oriental, Boston was in need of a vendor that could maximize all power efficiencies. This search resulted in the hotel’s current partnership with Cisco.

“Although power outages aren’t common, our team needs to be prepared,” said David Heckaman, vice president technology, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. “Losing guests because our previous technology couldn’t keep the power on is a direct threat to our line of business. We knew a change needed to happen immediately.”

Because the hotel had a limited IT staff, they also needed technology solutions that were easy to install, auto-configurable and remotely managed. In addition, Mandarin Oriental, Boston’s visibility into the switches was very minimal and network issues were hard to troubleshoot. Cisco was tasked to deploy the new switches at the property while keeping the guest experience a top priority.

Network Solution

Three key Cisco solutions made this hotel upgrade possible. The Cisco Catalyst® switches with Universal Power Over Ethernet (UPOE) provide a unique solution in the industry because UPOE is the only current technology with the ability to do in-room switching while maintaining power over the switch port for up to 60 watt. Cisco UPOE allows connectivity to Ethernet-powered devices, including Cisco IP phones and wireless access points without having to depend on external electric power supplies. This technology also meets the 60W power requirements set forth by Mandarin Oriental, Boston, allowing the property to keep one access point and multiple color-display phones per guestroom running at all times, even in a power outage.

Cisco Smart Install and Auto Smart Ports are two Cisco switching technologies that complete upgrades at Mandarin Oriental, Boston. Cisco Auto Smart Ports dynamically identifies any client devices in the guestroom and assigns the right security policy and configuration to the switching port. Cisco Smart Install is a plug-and-play configuration technology that provides zero-touch deployment, replacement and automatic configuration backup for new switches. The Cisco Smart Install technology greatly reduces installation time and prevents the property from requiring installation partners, in turn reducing overall cost.

“The Cisco UPOE solution deployed at our Boston property not only gave us more visibility into the network as well as better security for their infrastructure, but it also solved current power problems and set us up for future deployments at other properties,” says Heckaman. “For us, this solution has become a property standard and a trusted solution that we can reproduce for all of our new hotels.”

Business Results

When Mandarin Oriental, Boston lost power due to citywide outages, the previous switching structure left guests without Internet or phone access. With lack of access to Internet or phones during a power outage, guests had no means of communication, leaving them concerned since the cause of the power outage was unknown.

Three weeks after the Cisco installation at Mandarin Oriental, Boston, the city experienced a second power outage, and the hotel successfully kept phone and Internet access available for guests due to the completion of the UPOE project.

From an operational standpoint, smart ports saved time and reduced project costs. Customers, employees and guests at Mandarin Oriental, Boston now have more visibility into the network as well as an increased level of overall security.

For More Information

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