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Luxury Hotel Creates Distinctive Guest Experience

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Trump SoHo New York enabled staff collaboration with unified communications and pervasive wireless network.

Challenge

Opened in April 2010, Trump SoHo is a five-star luxury hotel in Manhattan, featuring 391 guest rooms on a 46-story property. The property owners and the developer, Bayrock Sapir Organization LLC, wanted to make the hotel spectacular, both visually and in terms of the guest experience. “Our goal was to create the most technologically sophisticated hotel in New York City, with a stand-out guest experience,” says Joshua Aaron, president of Business Technology Partners, the technology consulting and IT support firm hired to lead the hotel's technology design and implementation.

To delight guests, Bayrock and Business Technology Partners envisioned pervasive, high-speed wireless access throughout the property for smartphone-toting guests, and personalized service from staff members who could collaborate from any location. The developers were especially interested in creating a distinctive in-room experience, including a single interface to control not only video on demand, but also room lighting, temperature, and even the drapes. Another element would be a novel phone experience. The role of the phone in hotel rooms has changed, according to Aaron, because guests tend to use their own smartphones to make and receive calls. Therefore, rather than viewing the phone as a revenue-generating tool, Trump SoHo wanted to use it to deliver useful services such weather forecasts, airport and entertainment information, and email.

Finally, the property developers wanted to take advantage of technology behind the scenes, for operational efficiency. “Hotels have traditionally built and managed separate networks for phones, business applications, guest Internet access, video surveillance, video on demand, building controls, and more,” says Eric Brunnett, Director of Information Technology for Trump SoHo. “By consolidating all of these services onto a single IP network we minimize IT staff requirements while also allowing us to give guests a single interface to control all room amenities.”

Solution

Trump SoHo selected Cisco® solutions for the hotel network, pervasive wireless access, and unified communications, because they met all requirements, and a single point of contact simplifies support. BTP evaluated five unified communications solutions before choosing Cisco. “Many developers are creating exciting hospitality applications for Cisco Unified IP phones,” says Aaron. “That means we can continue to add new applications to keep the user experience fresh and new.”

The highly personalized guest experience begins when guests drive up to the front door. Hotel staff wear a wireless IP voice badge that operates over the same Cisco Unified Communications system used for typical voice calls. When the bellhop asks the guest’s name at the door, the check-in staff hears the guest's answer so that a moment later they can greet the guest by name. When guests arrive in their room, the color display on the Cisco Unified IP Phone 7975 shows a personalized welcome message.

Guests quickly discover that the phone provides more than voice, thanks to Nevotek V/IP Suite software from Nevotek, a member of the Cisco Developer Network Program. They can touch the colorful icons on the phones' display for voicemail, weather by zip code, airport information, and email. If a guest has a health emergency and calls 911, Cisco Emergency Responder simultaneously notifies the Trump SoHo Operations Center, which is staffed 24- hours a day and might be able to dispatch help even before public safety agencies arrive.

Hotel staff also take advantage of the in-room phones. For example, after confirming that a room is ready for the next guest, the room attendant touches a few keys on the phone, which updates the property management system. Prompt notification that a room is ready can help the hotel accommodate guests who would like to check in early.

Finally, Trump SoHo uses Cisco Unified Contact Center Express for efficient call handling for reservations and maintenance.

Results

Distinctive Guest Experience

Guests enjoy a highly personalized experience at Trump SoHo, starting when they make a reservation and extending throughout the stay. Reservations calls are answered promptly because Cisco Unified Contact Center Express routes calls to the first available agent.

Guests also appreciate the technology in their rooms and throughout the hotel property. Many guests make a point of saying that they especially appreciate the services available on the Cisco Unified IP phones, and the high-fidelity voice quality. Pervasive wireless access is also a popular amenity, especially because guests can view video on their smartphones and laptops, thanks to the high-performance 802.11n Cisco Unified Wireless Network.

Staff Efficiency

The ability to communicate and collaborate from anywhere on the property empowers staff members to create a personalized guest experience. For example, an employee who directs a guest to the spa can alert the spa that the guest is on his or her way, or report a spill before guests are inconvenienced. “Trump SoHo could not have taken advantage of wireless collaboration to this degree without a solid, high-performance network like the Cisco Unified Wireless Network,” says Aaron.

Efficient IT Operations

Not only does the converged network help to create a distinctive guest experience, it also reduced upfront and ongoing costs. The developers estimate they saved 25 to 30 percent on cabling and 10 percent on switch ports by using a single converged network for voice, video on demand, business applications, and guest Internet access. They saved more by not having to implement a separate voice and voicemail system in the administrative offices, located a block away from the hotel. Instead, the hotel delivers voice services to the administrative offices over one network. Employees in both locations can collaborate as if they were in the same location, reaching each other with four-digit dialing.

“We are able to manage the technology for all hotel services with a staff of two,” says Brunnett. “Being able to manage all networks internally instead of outsourcing gives us more control over the guest experience.” For example, the staff manages all 180 Cisco Aironet® wireless access points in both buildings from the Cisco Wireless Control System, and can use included tools to optimize wireless call quality and coverage.

Next Steps

Hotel technology is constantly evolving, and hotels at the vanguard have an advantage in attracting guests. “Our Cisco network and Cisco Unified Communications give us the solid foundation to adopt whatever new technology comes along,” says Brunnett. “Being prepared for the future is the single biggest advantage of Cisco collaboration technology.” One plan is to add a public Cisco TelePresence room for business guests to meet “face-to-face” with people in other locations. Another is to implement personal Cisco TelePresence systems in selected rooms.

Technical Implementation

Redundant Cisco Catalyst® 6509 Switches form the core network, providing the high availability needed in the 24-hour hotel environment. Voice, video, and data services are delivered to each floor through Cisco Catalyst 3750 Switches, configured in redundant pairs “If we have an outage on any device, we can replace it without interrupting any other services,” Brunnett says. The high-performance 802.11n Cisco Unified Wireless Network provides reliable, secure, pervasive coverage throughout the property.

Cisco ASA Adaptive Security Appliances 5510 provide security services, including a firewall. For extra security, the IT team created hundreds of VLANs to keep different types of traffic separate. This arrangement prevents someone using a guest network, for example, from viewing streams from video surveillance cameras.

For More Information

To find out more about Cisco Unified Communications, visit: http://www.cisco.com/go/unifiedcommunications.

To join conversations and share best practices about collaboration, visit: http://www.cisco.com/go/joinconversation.