Customer name: AHC Hospitality
Industry: Hospitality | Hotel Management
Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Number of employees: 1,500
Companies like AHC Hospitality are rethinking their value propositions with renewed urgency as they adapt to the pandemic. Josh Serba, Chief Information Officer, AHC Hospitality, discussed his company’s contingency and recovery plans after the stay-at-home restrictions are lifted in a recent interview. Here is what he had to say.
The current environment has positioned AHC to offer our management team the ability to perform their jobs while complying with the current “stay at home” orders with products like the Cisco Hyperflex. The Amway Grand Plaza will continue to maintain service, including foodservice via the Kitchen Counter by Wolfgang Puck, and room service. What’s next? When we are fully open for business again, and stay at-home-orders are lifted, the built-in intent- based IT network fabric will bring people closer together.”
Q. What changes do you see when the industry recovers?
A. We are already implementing technical advances, which include touch-less services, remote monitoring, personalized support, and digital keys that allow guests to check in, enter and lock their doors from a smartphone without stopping at the front desk.
Q. What have you learned during this crisis about the advantages of Cisco business continuity to bring people-to-people communication closer?
A. The pandemic provides a proving ground for the resilience of customers, partners, municipalities, governments and employees to operate effectively in virtual environments down the street or across the globe. Prior to the pandemic, the advanced network capability of our Cisco UCS server, switches and router networks kept our staff and management team securely connected. We had remote visibility into the network to scale as needed, which allowed AHC to quickly pivot and address a reduction and consolidation of our workforce and operations. Fortunately, we had installed the hyperconverged product last year because our partner, Phil Reinstra, vice president of sales at KR Group, recommended the HyperFlex platform. It met our budget and remote management requirements plus was easy to configure. This enabled our employees working from home to safely connect to their network and teammates.
Cisco Business wireless mobile app
Simplifies the ongoing management of access points with a mobile app so users can manage any device at any location.
Meraki WiFi 6 access points
Brings high-speed and high-bandwidth capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 to our 100 percent cloud managed Meraki range of access points for high-density environments at a small business-friendly price.
Meraki Cloud-managed smart cameras
Extends the range of Meraki Vision cloud-managed smart cameras that are the right size and price for small businesses. These cameras include high- quality video, wireless connectivity, on-appliance storage and built-in analytics.
Run all of your key business applications on your premises with a cloud-managed hyperconverged infrastructure. Flexibility and scale at the edge. Dual node, one site, easy to deploy and maintain.
Cisco Designed portfolio of enterprise-class solutions for small business
Designed for simplicity with zero configuration switching or plug and play expandability.
Cisco Business mesh extender specifically designed for small business
Simple-to-deploy and secure to connect and collaborate with wireless access points and mesh extenders deliver enterprise performance via the 802.11ac Wave 2 standard
Q. What is your strategy for communicating with customers and employees and eventually bringing them back to work?
A. We’ve been using several technologies that aid our hotel clients during the pandemic but I’m especially curious to learn how our staff will continue to use them when business gets back to normal. Most of our communications to the public are driven by the franchises, such as Hilton and Marriott. I do believe the franchises will offer more “touch-less” services, such as digital keys, mobile check-in and check-out, and mobile device-based room control.
The biggest change is the way we support our users. We have some great systems, like the new Meraki MS-250 Switches that allow us to troubleshoot and fix systems remotely. But we’ve always been conditioned to visit a user’s desk in an attempt to offer personalized support with a perceived level of care. Meraki’s wireless, switches and firewall are all in the cloud-managed environment, so that’s nice and convenient.
I’m going to advise my team to support our users remotely more regularly in an effort to reduce the amount of physical interactions with keyboards, mice and other equipment. We will continue to have all the systems in place that allow our users to work remotely.
Q. What properties do you support and what plans for using technology for a sustainable future?
A. Hotels under the AHC Hospitality Management umbrella (formerly Amway Hotel Corporation) include the Hotels under the AHC Hospitality Management umbrella include the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, JW Marriott Grand Rapids, Courtyard by Marriott Downtown Grand Rapids, Peter Island Resort & Spa, Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Ann Arbor, AC Hotel by Marriott Grand Rapids, Hyatt Place Grand Rapids, Hotel St. Regis in Detroit, The Waterfront Inn in The Villages, FL, and The Brownwood Inn and Spa,
The Villages, FL. Each is focused on surpassing the expectations of each guest’s technology needs. There is no shortage of challenges when it comes to integrating property management systems into client-facing technologies. Staying ahead of the technology curve can be difficult in the hospitality industry. A significant investment into the latest IoT innovations is helping to overcome those challenges by providing guests with more reasons to stay at the hotel.
Q. What lessons did you learn about the KR Group – your Cisco Partner?
A. Simply put, the KR Group has been an indispensable partner. I met Phil Reinstra when I first started working at AHC Hospitality. At the time, I was more of a network engineer. A colleague advised me to connect with Phil – and I soon realized the value that partnering with the KR Group brings to us. Honestly, I don’t even shop around at this point because I’m quite satisfied with their services. They’ve helped us with our network, which was my previous focus. However, today, I’m concerned about much more – phone systems, servers and our virtual environment. We’ve migrated many of those to Cisco Systems and, as a result, we find ourselves in a very stable environment. I always tell Phil that we don’t need him to engineer a solution or to push boxes. We need him to take the order, evaluate the situation and tell us if this is the right direction or if there’s a better fit. We also rely on KR Group for information on products that are on the horizon. This is huge for us since our engineers don’t always have time to stay on top of emerging trends. On the systems and infrastructure side, KG Group’s technical support has helped us plan big projects, like Microsoft Office 365 migrations as well as upgrades and major overhauls to our systems and networks. More than ever, we’re relying on KR Group to help us prepare for an unpredictable future.