Cloud-based hotel phone systems are becoming the norm in the hospitality industry. The hotel guest experience determines whether they’ll keep coming back to your hotel, and your communication systems can be the deciding factor.
By connecting traditional voice service with internet-based services such as e-mail, businesses achieve unified communications that streamline businesses and accelerate growth—creating a $13.4 billion VoIP market in the US alone.
If you’re planning to upgrade your existing hotel phone system, here are a few considerations for your cloud-based system.
Types of VoIP Services for Hotel Phone Systems
Basically, there are two types of VoIP services in general: on-premise and cloud. A combination of the two is called a hybrid setup, and each of these three arrangements is explained in detail below:
- On-Premise. Usually considered an extension of traditional phone systems, this location-based arrangement puts all required hardware on the business site. All calls go through your call server over a specialized voice network connection. It typically integrates into on-premise IT infrastructure in a dedicated server room.
- Cloud/Hosted PBX. This newer setup has the vendor provide all the software directly from the cloud. In most cases, it also includes hardware and maintenance. Only the handsets are located on the hotel premises, connected to the internet, where all calls are routed, and all apps are deployed.
- Hybrid. Combining on-premise and hosted elements, hybrid setups are mostly employed as a transitionary solution. They help companies transition from traditional telephony to a fully cloud-based network.
Key Services for Cloud-Based Hotel Phone Systems
The right cloud-based phone system must integrate with existing hotel and hospitality management processes. You’d want a hotel phone system that streamlines your day-to-day operation, reduces costs, and improves customer experience.
Some of the key services offered by different vendors include the following:
1. Business VoIP
Unlike consumer telephony, which only requires essential communication solutions such as making and receiving calls, a business VoIP phone service also comes with more advanced features, like call recording. Also, this kind of service is equipped with industry-grade security measures and a more extensive customer support platform.
Business VoIP is intended for multiple users, allowing different teams within the hotel to communicate with each other and allowing the establishment to make and receive calls from external parties—whether hotel guests or suppliers.
While simple BnBs could get by with cloud-based consumer telephony, growing hospitality businesses will need to adopt a business VoIP solution to ensure that the increased operational requirements don’t overload your employees.
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2. Unified Communications
Unified communications is an umbrella term for tools and technologies that facilitate using different communication media on a single platform. Generally, it covers the following:
- Instant messaging (chat)
- presence information,
- Voice (including IP telephony)
- Mobility features (including extension mobility and single number reach)
- Audio, web & video conferencing
- Fixed-mobile convergence (FMC)
- Desktop sharing
- Data sharing (including web connected electronic interactive whiteboards)
- Call control and speech recognition with non-real-time communication services such as unified messaging (integrated voicemail, e-mail, SMS and fax).
- Voice and video calls
- Team collaboration
- Video conferencing
- Instant messaging
- File sharing
- Third-party app integration
Certain providers offer unified communications (UCaaS) services, providing a centralized platform in the cloud. The hotel establishment only needs to procure the necessary end-user devices, such as workstations and handsets.
A particular application of UC for hotels is the use of exclusive mobile apps to extend promotional offers, facilitate bookings, or receive and address customer service needs.
In the post-pandemic world, Netscout reveals that 93% of companies agree on the importance of collaboration tools for communicating with stakeholders from different locations.
With an easily downloadable phone app, customers no longer have to wait in long reception lines. This app automatically routes advanced bookings and calls from room phones through the hotel front desk phone system for faster response.
Credits: Jep Gambardella
3. Hosted PBX
A private branch exchange is a small network dedicated specifically to your business. Imagine extending from your hotel’s website, mobile app, or trunkline to specific departments or members of your organization.
Having the entire network hosted on the cloud saves your company from allocating an on-premise location or making a significant investment. By having the network entirely up on the cloud, you only need the end-user devices in your hotel. All communication is routed through your online network, offering increased flexibility and security.
Depending on the service provider, you can enjoy varying levels of features, security, and customer support. For example, a Mitel hotel phone system leverages MiCloud Connect, which is better suited for a small hotel phone system. It uses Google Cloud instead of a private network, which helps reduce costs without sacrificing security capabilities.
4. Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
Answering machines also came a long way, now offering more options as an interactive voice response (IVR) platform. Traditionally, this auto-attendant feature contains a set of pre-recorded messages triggered by customer responses, often by dialing a number from their end.
It sorts the massive volume of incoming phone calls without needing a customer representative to go through each of them. By automating the first part of the customer inquiry, they can be redirected to the relevant department.
IVR is often provided as an optional feature in the hotel industry. By leveraging machine learning and artificial intelligence, modern IVR platforms can now translate into other languages or provide intuitive responses based on certain keywords.
Costs of a VoIP Hotel Phone System
Adopting a VoIP phone system can appear daunting for businesses in the hotel and hospitality industry, especially for small businesses. However, by breaking down the expenses to expect from this endeavor, you can better prepare your finances and ensure the transition doesn’t harm your hotel’s other needs.
On-Premise Phone System
Choosing an on-premise VoIP phone system allows you to exert more control in the management, upkeep, and configuration of every telephony aspect.
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On the other hand, it comes with significantly more costs. You’ll need to allocate a part of your hotel to act as the server room. Also, you will need a significant investment to cover the costs needed to procure the equipment needed, from servers and storage devices down to your end-user handsets.
Lastly, you can maintain an in-house IT team to ensure it works properly or outsource these services to a third-party provider.
Hosted PBX Phone System
On the other hand, a cloud PBX VoIP phone system is more cost-effective than an on-premise setup. The IT infrastructure, the apps, and the network connections you need are all hosted on the cloud. You’ll only need to spend on the handsets and other end-user devices you might need.
Even better, the costs for these pieces of equipment are further driven down since most providers offer them on a subscription basis.
There are two common pricing schemes for a hotel PBX phone system:
- Per Month Basis. On a standard per-month basis, you pay a fixed amount for all the services you enjoy. Usually, deals under this pricing scheme only include the provision of cloud-based services. If you need an end-user device, you can purchase it upfront or get it from a third-party provider.
- Per User Per Month Basis. This arrangement is usually offered by providers that cover both your software and hardware needs. They can loan the end-user devices that are needed plus the entire VoIP network needed to supplement your hotel operations. As the name suggests, the business is charged based on the number of end-users included.
Set Up Your Cloud-Based Hotel Phone System
With a lot of service providers, setting up your hotel phones can be challenging. However, businesses in Canada’s lodging and hospitality space trust Sunco for their communication systems. As a longtime provider of Mitel and Phonesuite phone systems for hotels, you can expect turnkey solutions customized to your unique business needs.
Contact Sunco Today to discuss your specific business needs and with our superior knowledge and experience, we can find the perfect phone system for you.
Featured Image Credits: Mikhail Nilov