The hospitality industry has used a mix of communication services, including two-way radio, iDEN-based Nextel PTT, Wi-Fi voice handsets, wireline PBX, and cellular phone service. Various mobile productivity and guest management applications have also been deployed by hotels to make operations more efficient and give guests an enhanced experience. However, the hospitality industry continues to face major communication services problems that will benefit from new and more effective solutions.
Problem: Fragmentation of Mobile Voice/Data Communications
Organizations within the hospitality industry are faced with the problem of fragmented mobile voice/data communications, which are manifested in multiple ways:
- Two-way radios, walkie-talkies or traditional push-to-talk (PTT) services are used for instant one-to-one and group communications (a core functions of PTT services), whereas smartphones are used for mobile broadband data and access to line-of-business applications.
- Two-way radios and cell phones operate on separate networks without interoperability.
- Wi-Fi handsets and site-based two-way radios only work on-premises, making it difficult to address after-hours and off-premises issues. Two-way radios are large and bulky devices that are cumbersome to use. Consistent coverage is a major issue at large hotel properties, on the hotel grounds and in property basements. Cell phones are used for mobile communication off-premises, but require employees to carry multiple devices.
- Efficient voice communications require on-the-fly and centralized set up of an address book (especially groups) on each mobile device. Traditional communications solutions do not support such centralized address book management.
Fragmentation of voice/data communications leads to several issues. First, organizations typically distribute PTT-enabled handsets to only certain work groups who need them most (e.g., housekeeping), hence no instant voice command and control is available across the entire organization. Second, some employees have to carry multiple devices in order to use multiple applications (e.g., a two-way radio for on-premises PTT and a smartphone for mobile data and off-premises communications). Third, there is high cost of deploying and managing siloed communication networks or services.
Cause: Functional limitations of existing solutions
The fragmentation of voice/data communications in the hospitality industry is due to functional limitations of existing solutions, inherent to the underlying technology used. For example, traditional two-way radios only operate on a land mobile radio (LMR) network. In addition, the architecture and spectrum usage of LMR leads to very limited data capability: the effective data rate of digital LMR is typically around 2 kilobits per second or less, compared with multiple megabits per second that that can be supported by today’s 4G LTE network.