The hotel industry is only just starting to embrace the latest tech. London hotels areis working hard to make guests feel like they are right at home during their stay. But when does a hotel stay feel like home?
The latest technology has made it possible to set up the room just the way you like it. From choosing the right room, lighting, temperature, music – everything can be controlled and set up in advance. London hotels have started picking up on the need to personalise every guests’ stay and invest in new technology to make this possible.
Here are five of the London hotels innovating technology in their offering to guests:
1. Eccleston Square Hotel
Named London’s most high-tech hotel, Eccleston Square Hotel is a unique blend of historical elegance and exciting new technology.
The hotel’s very own app that guests can download to their device acts as a digital concierge and lets you set up everything just the way you want for your arrival.
Each room has access to free and fast Wi-Fi, and comes equipped with free smartphones that guests can use for international calls and free data while roaming the city or conducting business.
The in-room pads let guests control every single aspect of their room – light, sound, and temperature – and they can also browse the menu, order room service from the restaurant, and select the time of delivery.
The bathroom glass walls can be toggled between see-through and frosted with a simple touch of a button. The best part is that the “Do not disturb” sign can be activated from the touchpad, too!
2. Radisson Blu Edwardian, Berkshire
Radisson Blu on oxford Street never stops innovating to offer the very best guest experience. While staying at the Edwardian on the Bloomberry St, guests will be able to use their very own virtual assistant called Edward.
Edward will help throughout the whole stay and help them with check-ins, checkouts, and requesting anything guests might need. Each room has fast Wi-Fi for an unlimited number of devices, and guests can even stay up to date thanks to their digital news app.
3. South Place Hotel, London
The South Place Hotel also realised that guests want full control of their room setup, so every guest can control lighting and electronic blackout blinds, and enjoy crystal clear sound thanks to the Bang & Olufsen media centre and a library full of free on-demand movies and shows.
The bathrooms are equipped with a TV and speakers too, and those who get tired of movies can head to the hotel’s games room.
4. Amba Hotel Marble Arch, London
Also located on Oxford Street, Amba Hotel Marble Arch lets guests have full control over every aspect of their stay. They can choose rooms themselves during booking, and the Mobile Valet app lets guests explore the hotel and all amenities, order room service, and set up express checkout easily.
Every room is equipped with USB sockets next to beds and super-fast unlimited Wi-Fi. There’s also a tablet in each room that guests can use as they like, and Smart TVs they can link their own devices with and connect to their favourite services. Plus, you can keep your tech secure thanks to the in-room laptop safe which is a great addition for business trips.
5. CitizenM London Bankside
The CitizenM London Bankside offers their guests compact rooms filled to the brim with technological gadgets that make the stay comfortable and futuristic. Starting with ‘one-minute’ check-in kiosks, the guests are guided to a room that they can adjust as they want.
Guests will have their own tablet “mood pad” that gives them control over all the aspects of the room. Coupled with lightning-fast Wi-Fi, it’s really like being portalled to the future.
Contrary to popular belief, the hospitality industry is an excellent target of cybercrime because of the sheer amount of personal and sensitive data held. In fact, there are several businesses that have already faced data breach fines.
Every day, hotels, hostels, and restaurant chains handle credit cards, emails, contact preferences, home addresses, and other sensitive data from millions of customers, and hackers want to get their hands on that information.
A data breach can go undetected for quite a long time, as some of the cases below demonstrate, which would only increase the GDPR fine nowadays!
Here are 6 hospitality businesses who have recently faced data breach fines, and the cybercrime that caused them.
Back in 2014, Hilton hotels were a victim of a data breach, followed by another breach during 2015, which resulted in the data loss of over 360,000 customers. The data that was stolen held sensitive information like credit card numbers, names, addresses, and more.
The biggest issue is that Hilton failed to inform its customers about the breach in a timely manner. It took them ten months after they learned about the breach to inform their customers. This resulted in a $700,000 fine for lack of adequate security and failing to inform customers about the breach. If this had happened recently, their fines would be much higher under GDPR – they would probably have to pay around $420 million.
Radisson Hotel Group faces fines under the newly adopted GDPR. The breach was discovered in 2018, with Radisson claiming to have promptly informed the EU regulators within the 72-hour timeline. It was detected in the Radisson Rewards database, and some members of their Rewards programs were compromised.
Apparently, credit card or passwords were not stolen. Stolen data included names, addresses, email addresses, company names, Rewards member numbers, and frequent flyer numbers. As a result, the hotel chain might be facing a €10 million fine.
Even Trump hotels aren’t spared of data breaches. The hotel chain suffered a data breach back in 2014 when over 70,000 credit card numbers and other personal data were stolen via the payment processing system that was infected. The now president Trump agreed to cover the $50,000 fine that was issued because the hotel chain didn’t bother to inform their customers about the breach even though they knew about it for months.
Restaurant chain Wendy’s had to pay a hefty fine because of the data breach that happened in 2015 and 2016 when 1,025 POS systems used at their locations were infected with malware that led to a lot of stolen credit card info. It is reported that over 18 million cards were compromised in the breach.
Many of these cards were used to commit fraudulent online purchases. As a result, Wendy’s had to face a class action lawsuit from affected financial institutions and consumers. Wendy’s reached a settlement that required them to pay $50 million by the end of 2019.
Zippy’s restaurant chain based in Hawaii suffered a data breach in November 2017. They first discovered the breach in March 2018. All cards used during that time might have been affected. The compromised information included credit card numbers, expiration dates, names, and security codes.
There is no information about how many customers were affected, but a class action lawsuit was filed against FCH Enterprises, the owner of Zippy’s Restaurant. It’s worth noting that not only the restaurant chain was affected. The other franchises held by FCH – Napoleon’s Bakery, Kahala Sushi, Pearl City Sushi, and Pomaika’i Ballrooms. FCH reached a settlement and agreed to pay $725,000.
Probably the case that got most traction is the large data breach that occurred with the Marriott hotel chain. Personal data and credit card details, even passport numbers and dates of birth of more than 500 million of their customers were stolen. The Marriott group includes hotel chains such as Sheraton, Westin, W, Le, Meridien.
The breach was first discovered in September 2018, while detailed investigation revealed ongoing unauthorized access dating back to 2014. They did encrypt sensitive data such as credit card information. However, the group stated they cannot be sure that encryption keys were not stolen too.
The most concerning part is that this was ongoing for four years, meaning security monitoring profoundly failed. The fine: $3.5 billion dollars plus $915 million from ICO GDPR.
With the rising risk of data breach and rising prices of fines, make sure you protect your customers’ sensitive data. This is especially true with the GDPR in place. By doing so, you avoid fines and ensure your guests rest easy knowing their personal information is safe with you.
The omnipresence of technology is bringing some exciting new hospitality tech trends that we can’t wait to see put into action in 2019. As one of the least innovative industries and yet highly customer-facing, the hospitality industry is slowly seeing the need (and customer want) for increasing technology.
In addition to improving customer experience, new technological solutions also contribute to the improvement of inner operations and management. From staff having their very own digital assistants to offering personalized hotel rooms, here are some of the coolest trends that await us in 2019.
1. Digital Assistants in a Business Use Capacity
Although voice processing and speech recognition became available in the 1990s, it still couldn’t process or deliver natural speech patterns which made usage difficult and affected user experience.
Since then, we’ve now got Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Samsung’s Bixby and Microsoft’s Cortana as the main digital assistant contenders.
You can give out commands to schedule meetings, book travels, voice queries all the while preserving your natural speech pattern.
The hospitality industry has caught on to the rising trend of voice recognition technology and is incorporating them into their offering in three ways:
Booking & Ordering – On websites or booking pages, there’s no need for longer drop-down boxes or code, instead, users should soon be able to speak their needs and this be picked up by the location from their end. It saves time, energy and is much more user-friendly.
Customer Services – Digital assistants may become part of hotels the same way they do in our homes. They can integrate seamlessly in a hotel to offer guests a new innovative level of service. Controlling room temperature or light settings with their voice as well as order room service or choose from a list of additional purchases, all without having to call or click a button.
Daily Management – Digital assistants aren’t just to benefit customers, but staff too. Daily tasks, like taking food orders, scheduling room cleaning, staff rota organisations, or internal memos could be handled by digital assistants. This will leave the staff with much more time for relevant guest interactions and ensuring everything is up to highest standards.
2. Personalised Hotel Rooms
A personal touch is the most important one in the hospitality industry, and it’s good to see hospitality tech trends focused on it. Many resorts and hotels are incorporating high-tech solutions that enable guests a fully personalised experience during their stay, with the ultimate aim being that the room feels like home as soon as guests connect their devices. This means that guests will have access to their documents, music, and streaming services, and they will be able to control environmental settings such as room temperature or lights.
The Hilton hotel chain is at the forefront of integrating personalisation options with their Connected Room experience, which enables various room controls through their mobile Hilton Honors app. The guests will have the options to set their preferences even before they arrive at the hotel, so the room will be fully tuned to them once they enter.
3. Robotic Cleaners
Automation has taken the world by storm, and it’s currently sweeping (pun intended) through hospitality too.
It has even reached the kitchens, with automated orders being just the start, and the latest development being robotic cooks doing the brunt of the work. However, over 50% of consumers are not fond of this trend and would rather not be served by a robot. There is no replacing the human element when it comes to cuisine. On the other hand, more than 80% of them are sure that robots will be cleaning restaurants soon.
This trend is already present in hotels, who are seeing a surge in robotic help with cleaning operations. While many consumers already have a Roomba in their homes, the robots helping in hotels are a bit more advanced. Maidbot as an example – named “Rosie,” has LIDAR detection to efficiently avoid obstacles and is fully autonomous in operation.
The Radisson Blu Hotel in Delhi employs a fully automated pool cleaning robot that not only does its job exceptionally well, but also uses fewer chemicals. While it can do most work on its own, if there’s a spot that requires extra attention, it can be controlled remotely too.
4. Biometric Data Analysis to Suggest Travel Destinations
Biometric data has become a standard in many areas today, with many mobile phones and notebooks having face-recognition software and fingerprint scanners. Hotels have also embraced this technology to personalise experiences for their guests.
When a guest is recognised as soon as they enter the hotel or restaurant, their overall experience is improved, which will make them more likely to return. Oracle has conducted an extensive research on customer preferences toward new technology in hotels and restaurants and found out that:
“31% of restaurant guests and 41% of hotel guests will be more likely to visit an establishment with greater frequency if they are recognised by an employee without having to give their name or show a loyalty card.”
The truly revolutionary way to use biometrics in the hospitality industry goes toward knowing what the guests would enjoy most even before they are aware of it. Accor Hotels has introduced Seeker, an installation that suggests travel destination based on behavioural analysis. Seeker records and analyses heart rate, skin responses, brain waves, and behaviour to stimuli presented through its LED panels, waterfall, pillars, and a video board. The installation then suggests perfect destinations based on those responses.
5. Efficiency Wearables
According to Oracle’s research on hospitality tech trends “Hotel 2025,” smartwatches and fitness trackers have become as prevalent as mobile phones. While currently wearables are used to describe smartwatches and bands only, the term actually encompasses any type of accessories that can be fitted with computational capabilities.
One prediction states that wearable tech will be a disruptive change in hotel management. Staff schedules and training would be done through wearable tech, with other predicted uses being guest access to hotels, guest orders, payments, and staff access to workstations.
Some hotels are already implementing wearables, where guests can opt for a wearable device instead of a key card and access the hotel and their room with a simple wave of their wrist. Some hotels, like Westin, even offer sleep monitoring wristbands to ensure their guests get good sleep.
Hotel Alessandra in Houston, Texas, has adopted wearables for staff management and improved their hotel operations efficiency. Staff can be notified about tasks that need to be done much quicker, improving their response times.
It’s amazing to see the extent of technology’s effect on the hospitality industry and we can’t wait to see more innovation developed for the industry in the future.
The hospitality industry is starting to embrace digital solutions, with hotels being in the forefront of the industry. Still, many hospitality businesses downplay their IT requirements. For instance, they are still reluctant to open their doors for IT managed service providers in hospitality.
Hotels, hostels, resorts, bars, and restaurants assume they will see no benefit from investing into IT. Their main argument being that they don’t have the time or money to hire and keep IT staff. This is where an IT managed service provider (MSP) can help.
So, here are some of the things, we deal with and take off the plate of our hospitality-based clients.
1. Be Your IT Supplier Liaison
Whether it’s an equipment failure that needs repairing or replacing, software and domain licenses that need renewing or simply negotiating the best deal for tech rentals (think printers etc.) we can help.
As a managed service provider, we act as the middleman when it comes to dealing with suppliers and 3rd parties to talk their lingo and get things sorted as quick as possible. It’s a time saver, and chances are we can save you money long-term with supplier agreements.
2. Provide 1st – 3rd Line Support
Many MSPs provide various stages of support, from 1st-3rd line. Whether you need on-site assistance or a dedicated number to call, your MSP should have it covered.
Unsure of the type of support you need?
In the case of minor IT issues, you can access 1st line support and talk to general help desk operators that will guide you through the troubleshooting process. Common 1st line issues are related to email passwords and account access.
For more complicated IT issues, 2nd line support takes over, for example, a non-critical issue with your equipment or tills.
3rd line is your specialists who are trained in your specific systems. They are often the most qualified and certified and deal with complex or emergency issues. For example, your POS system going offline during service.
3. IT Management
If you already have an IT team but are struggling to tie it together in your operations and strategy, an MSP can help here too. A hospitality IT managed service provider can deal with your entire IT infrastructure, or just part of it depending on what you need.
They will proactively monitor your IT operations, assess the current efficiency, and suggest improvements and integration options to ensure the highest uptime and optimal data flow between systems. So that you’re making the most sales and providing the best customer experience possible.
4. Backup Solutions
The hospitality sector handles vast amounts of data, and with the introduction of digitalisation and the internet of things (IoT), the amount of data will steadily increase. It includes everything from sensitive data and credit card information to info gathered from your guests and customers that helps you segment them. This allows you to follow the latest trends, and offer personalised experiences, all the way to complex automation operations.
IT managed service providers in hospitality will take proactive steps to ensure all your data is safe in case of system failure, power outage, or natural disaster by using a cloud-based backup and disaster recovery system. This system ensures you have access to your data at any time, no matter what circumstances. It’s a reliable solution that offers better safety and protection than you could set up in-house. Check with your MSP to see which backup vendors they partner with, for us, it’s Microsoft Azure.
5. Handle Wi-Fi Security
It is very common to find unsecured or badly secured networks in the hospitality sector. Many restaurants and bars have unsecured Wi-Fi or use the same Wi-Fi that they offer to their guests, which leaves them vulnerable to security threats, most notably hacking and data breaches. To ensure the highest security, your MSP will establish a secure Wi-Fi network throughout your entire establishment or chain that only your staff will have access to, with a fully separate POS network solution.
They can also ensure the protection of your customer data and improved experience by setting effective customer Wi-Fi.
6. Ensure Compliance
While compliance in hospitality is traditionally tied to things like food safety, IT systems bring about their own set of compliance regulations to be followed. Your MSP will ensure that your technology and software solutions are compliant with government regulations (like GDPR) by utilising secure systems like Microsoft’s Azure Information Protection. They can also help with PCI DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard) compliance for your POS systems.
7. Standardise Equipment
A very common practice for medium to large enterprises is to standardise equipment to reduce costs and make maintenance and upkeep easier. But, for smaller businesses, this isn’t often attempted, because people don’t know how.
Your IT managed service provider can standardise current systems as well as oversee purchases to make sure they really are necessary and compatible with your current systems. Having this in place will allow for better monitoring, applying updates and reducing response times.
8. Offer Cost-Effective Solutions For Better Customer Service
Your MSP is more than just IT support. They are IT professionals with specific knowledge of your industry that follow the latest trends. Their goal is to align with your goals and help you offer an amazing service to your customers. In hospitality specifically, your IT managed service provider can advise on ways to improve customer experience through technology, whether that’s free Wi-Fi or even marketing beacons.
9. Facilitate Expansions
When opening a new venue or location, your MSP can help fit in the IT seamlessly with your design plans so you can future proof your venue. From simple tasks like outlets and power supplies to the larger, more intricate technological planning, expanding to meet the same IT standards you have currently has never been easier. For example, we liaise with contractors and project managers during construction to make sure IT specifications and planned equipment are tailored to.
10. On-Site Upgrades
Whether your equipment is due an overhaul or you’re in need of repairs, your IT managed service provider can implement them on-site with minimal effect to your customers. Often they can work out of hours to deal with upgrades at less busy times, but if not, they understand how best to proceed with the least impact. Luckily, when you hire an MSP they normally have notifications and analytics to check to deal with these upgrades ahead of time before anything goes wrong. But, even if issues occur, they are dealt with easily and swiftly.
11. IT Budget Management
All businesses out there have a limited budget, and it can be hard to determine just how big the IT budget of a business in the hospitality sector should be. The industry average suggests around 2.5% of your turnover should be spent on technology, but this will vary depending on the type of business you have.
IT managed service providers in hospitality will assess your current situation and offer a detailed overview of where you can save money and how. This will most commonly include software and hardware standardisation across all your devices and establishments. Additionally, hiring an MSP for your IT requirements means that you will pay them a fixed monthly fee, which is considerably lower than paying for specific IT services when something breaks down, when you need a major overhaul of all systems or emergency fees when you need something done quickly (that could have been prevented.)
12. Meeting and Function Room Setup
Do you make income from function or meeting room rentals? Improve your technological capabilities, become an innovative location for events and not only provide a better experience, but charge more!
Your MSP will inspect your meeting and function rooms in detail and suggest the needed technology and software to implement so they are fully equipped for social gatherings, ceremonies, or conferences. They will also offer their services to the party that booked your meeting/function rooms and help with the setup.
13. On-Site Repair and Maintenance
While traditional IT services offer maintenance and repairs only when you request it, managed service providers conduct proactive monitoring. This helps them spot an issue early on before it becomes a much bigger problem. They will repair and maintain equipment on-site as soon as they detect issues to give faster turnarounds before it breaks completely.
This also means you don’t have to sit on hold to a helpdesk who try to explain how to do the fixes yourself! It just gets done!
14. New Software & Hardware Audits
An MSP will continuously research new software and hardware options to see if they are viable and relevant to your business. An MSP has the required industry and IT knowledge to assess new software and hardware and determine whether they would benefit you. Often times, restaurants and other key players from the hospitality industry opt for solutions that might be a good fit for their needs but are not compatible with their current systems. An MSP will ensure that the tech solution you choose is compatible and won’t cause major disruptions during or after implementation.
15. IT Consultancy
Some IT managed service providers in hospitality won’t include consultancy, but we do. From consulting on IT equipment and device policies, to making innovative improvements to your security or processes that ultimately help you make money!
All of these tasks aim to improve your customer service and ability to sell to customers or maintain that relationship. Technology is overlooked in the IT indsutry, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important.
With most industries actively embracing digitalisation, the need for having IT staff is more prevalent than ever before. Still, not everyone has the required means or knowledge to set up and manage their IT infrastructure in-house, or enough time to research the best options for their specific needs to keep up with innovation.
The hospitality industry is no exception. Many don’t realise the reliance on technology within the hospitality industry, but with booking and ordering systems, restaurant wi-fi and networks and cloud storage for venues with limited space (just to name a few) it’s more important than ever to stay on top of it.
Plus, hospitality means people. And with the GDPR regulations and the emphasis of increasing data protection from customers, you need to protect your business and technology.
Unfortunately, IT support often doesn’t follow suit here, with security threats and potential problems becoming more prevalent issues within the industry. While established players often have a dedicated in-house IT staff to manage all their needs, not all have the means to do so, and some don’t have the technical expertise to deal with this challenging industry. This is where managed service providers come in.
What Is a Managed Service Provider (MSP)?
A managed service provider (MSP) is a company that specialises in the management of IT infrastructure and systems for their customers. This management can either be remote or done at the customer’s office. Most often, it is offered as a continuous service for a set monthly fee.
It is different from traditional IT support because it not only covers reactive maintenance, i.e. maintenance when something goes wrong, but also proactive services and system monitoring, as well as cybersecurity, IT consulting, and upgrades. It is a flexible service that adjusts to the needs of each client instead of offering a one-size-fits-all solution.
For example, if a hotel already has good booking solution that can easily handle peak times during holiday season, they will not need infrastructure maintenance, but they might require additional services with their staffing software. A good MSP will adjust to meet these needs.
What Does a Managed Service Provider Do?
Managed Service Providers cover a broad range of IT support – from infrastructure maintenance to incorporating automation, handling security and compliance matters, or migrating to a new platform. The range of services differs between industries – and even in the same industry – and depends heavily on the needs of each client. An MSP will always provide a fully customisable solution and can do the following:
Automate routine tasks
Provide maintenance for your entire technological stack
Monitor IT infrastructure to ensure all systems perform optimally
Develop technological strategies to address current issues
Do preventative maintenance to detect loss of efficiency and catch issues early on
Implement new technological solutions that scale with your business
Future-proof IT systems by upgrading legacy software
Apply system and software upgrades and patches to ensure system and data safety
Deliver responsive support so that any major IT crisis is resolved quickly
Handle data storage and disaster recovery
A managed service provider helps you focus on your business while taking care of your IT systems. They are more than just IT professionals – they align with your goals and ensure your IT capabilities don’t hold you down on your journey to reach them.
Why You Should Work with an MSP
Employing a managed service provider helps businesses stay on top of the latest technologies and security requirements. MSPs help by identifying flaws in IT systems, operations, or infrastructure and working out the best solutions to improve overall business efficiency in a cost-effective way.
For example, a restaurant needs to sell more seats, not always have the latest fancy equipment, so an MSP will help identify the best option within budgets to suit the individual needs of the client.
They allow businesses to quickly implement new technological solutions and adapt to rapidly changing business environments (particularly when there is a change in legislation.)
They work with their clients to achieve the ultimate goal: ensure the best guest experiences and cultivate guest loyalty.
Here’s some of the ways they do this:
You Get Access to Fully Customisable Solutions – MSPs offer cloud-based infrastructure solutions meaning if you open (or close) a new location, your solutions can be upgraded or downgraded easily to match!
They Improve Your Efficiency and Give You a Competitive Advantage – MSPs have the resources to immediately begin working on specifically tailored solutions that are then deployed and integrated with your existing systems. This process is much faster than it would take to do the research, development, and implementation in-house from scratch. For example, if you wish to update your data storage and improve security systems to keep all guest and consumer data safe, an MSP will do that for you.
They Help You Plan Ahead and Predict Expenses – They help determine peaks in your traffic and help you prepare for it by adjusting your infrastructure to withstand the higher demand. For instance, if you have peak reservations and stays during holidays, your MSP will ensure that your network can carry the increased visitor load and handle billing efficiently.
They Lower Your Business Costs – Instead of using a one-size-fits-all solution that has elements you will never need, you will only pay for services you use and nothing more. In addition to this, they eliminate the costs of hiring, training, and retaining in-house IT staff or hiring emergency or temporary staff only to fix or update your systems. Plus, because they are often on a contract, you get a better rate than if you were to hire an ad hoc IT consultancy firm.
They Eliminate Issues Quickly – Because MSP resolve issues daily, there are a few unknowns left. When your business has an IT issue, they will be able to solve it quickly as opposed to an in-house IT employee who might have never had to deal with that specific issue.
They Help You Focus on Your Business – All businesses have limited resources and focus available, hiring an MSP helps you focus your attention to where it’s really needed – your core business. Leave the IT decisions to them.
They Handle Risk and Compliance for You – Shifting markets and financial conditions make every business decision a risk. MSPs have the required expertise and industry knowledge to choose the best possible strategy. In addition to this, they can help you remain compliant under technological and data protection legislation. .
They Keep Your Systems and Data Secure – A good MSP will ensure your systems are fully secure and up to date on security patches. They will handle PCI compliance standards for online payments and reservations, ensure your firewall is active, and your guests’ data and sensitive information are safe.
Who A Managed Service Provider Would Suit Specifically
Managed services are used through a broad range of industries but are particularly effective in the following:
Hotels, resorts, restaurants, and bars have embraced digitalisation and are striving to offer the best online and in-house experience to their guests, from the initial landing page all the way to booking, reservations, and payment options on the day.
The key challenge to success in the hospitality industry is providing the perfect customer experience. And innovative technology helps you get there.
A growing number of hotels and other key players have migrated to cloud software to improve their business operations and get access to data analysis capabilities to detect trends and potential customers. On top of this, in restaurants or hotels where you can’t have large equipment or server racks, it’s an effective space saver too.
Because the hospitality industry handles vast amounts of sensitive guest and customer data, they require the right security solutions and must ensure they are compliant with government regulations (like GDPR.) Financial transactions play a big role, so having safe IT security is the prime objective.
Smaller hospitality establishments often don’t have fully equipped IT teams available, so complementing their existing team or relying on managed services for all their IT needs improves their IT security and quality, gives them access to newest software, and helps them compete with big players.
Small Business Owners and Start-Ups
Small and medium businesses, as well as start-ups, often struggle with keeping up to date on newest IT solutions. It takes a lot of time and money to keep their IT professionals on top of the newest trends and solutions which are often things that a startup doesn’t have.
Managed Service Providers help SMBs and start-ups with a full suite of IT services that are customised to their needs, goals, and preferences. This brings down overall costs and distributes them evenly throughout the year thanks to fixed monthly fees. Plus, business owners and start-ups get access to the latest tech and software solutions, as well as security options.
Companies With Unfavourable Opening Times
Any company working 24/7 knows that IT costs can run high because you have to hire a team to rotate so you have someone on site. Telephone support only goes so far and hiring emergency IT professionals when something goes wrong can be difficult and costly to fix if they don’t know your business or setup.
Employing an MSP gives them access to IT monitoring and support around the clock, which eliminates overtime pay or shift costs for internal IT staff. MSPs can complement and manage on-site IT staff as a standalone solution.
Things To Look For In A Managed Service Provider
A good managed service provider will have the required industry knowledge, qualifications, and certifications to back up their expertise. When choosing an MSP, look out for the following:
Qualifications and Certifications – The MSP of your choosing should be up to date on industry-specific knowledge and have experience working in your field. For example, those working in the hospitality industry should look for an MSP who provides cybersecurity solutions that are compliant with GDPR (if you or your customers are in Europe.) Ensure that the IT professionals who handle your infrastructure have the required certifications, but also experience working with your frameworks.
Partnerships – For example, an MSP who is a senior Microsoft partner will suggest they have the knowledge, expertise and vetting of Microsoft to work with their systems. Meaning you have peace of mind that they know what they’re doing.
Pricing, Range of Services, and Customisation – Depending on your needs, you will be able to choose what services you need and which ones you don’t. The right MSP will be flexible and understand your specific needs. They will listen to your goals and get to know your business before offering their services. The pricing options should reflect the services that you will use, and those that you won’t should be excluded from the price. Most commonly, you will be offered a monthly retainer based on the service and level of support that you need.
Service Level Agreements – A good MSP will offer a service level agreement (SLA) that determines all the details, such as quality and performance metrics that should be met, details about liability in case of performance issues or outages, a list of services and responsibilities offered by the MSP, and a framework to resolve service issues.
Availability – Always choose an MSP who provides flexible assistance that includes remote monitoring and emergency support. If possible, opt for one with a local presence so that their professionals can visit your office if needed.
We are going to answer the common question on why IT management is essential for the hospitality sector because it is one that is frequently asked! Simply put, the hospitality industry needs IT management. Firstly, you need to remove the mindset that IT needs are exclusively in an office environment and consider the technology used to run a business in the hospitality industry. From restaurants to theme parks, the dependence on technology is increasing and therefore so does your need for IT management, for example, let’s look at the amount of technology used in a restaurant and set aside the service element for a second, you have:
EPOS (Electronic Point Of Sale)
Databases with staff and client information
Ordering systems (for customers)
Stock ordering and management (in-house)
Tablet managements system
And this doesn’t even consider the advancement of technology such as smartphone payments, new apps and ongoing changes in security regulations. A business in the hospitality industry is still a business and needs to be treated as such because the industry as a whole is years behind on tech, partly because what is available it isn’t managed or maintained. This is where an IT manager comes in and here’s a few of the things they do to prove why you need them:
Whether it’s customer data, sensitive documents and emails or your employee databases, your information needs to be kept secure and changing your passwords regularly won’t cut it (although it’s an excellent place to start. With the new GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) legislation coming into effect, your business can face massive fines regardless of whether you are in finance or hospitality, you have a responsibility to keep data secure. An IT manager can provide safety protocols and security measures to safeguard your data as well as train you and your staff on how to avoid lapses in security for the business. Technology is advancing and your security needs to go with it.
Project Management & Installation
Thinking of expanding, having a site overhaul or changing the way your business looks? We can help with the technology side to liaise with the project managers so that you can still provide the service in the aesthetic that you like. Doing this during the building phases helps to minimise disruption to your business and makes sure that you don’t have any lapses or poor technology issues which can look bad to customers. An extension is great but if your free Wi-Fi doesn’t reach outside anymore your patrons aren’t going to be happy.
An IT manager knows when it is time to upgrade and what you should upgrade to and that doesn’t always mean the most expensive or newest products. Stability and performance are the two key factors we aim to combine and with our insider knowledge we know what is going to work and what software or hardware hasn’t quite worked out the kinks.
The hospitality industry tends to require multi-tasking as processing are different than a standard office, you need day-to-day maintenance and checks as well as someone being on hand to deal with issues that arise. While your go-to IT person can handle some of the problems, you can’t expect them to handle multiple sites and locations as well as any projects, upgrades, repairs and installations all by themselves!
Quicker Resolutions Of Problems
Knowing who to talk to can get a job done quickly and right! Have you ever been passed around from one department to another trying to get support, with everyone claiming nothing is their fault? Cut out the middle man and let us do it for you, not only can an IT manager discuss and organise on your behalf but they also have the contacts to get things resolved swiftly (and escalate problems properly that aren’t getting fixed) This solves problems in half the time and allows you to focus on the other important aspects of running a business.
Translate Tech jargon
Those error messages that you don’t understand, we do! We know what they mean and how to resolve them as well as what’s normal and when to start panicking! Technical language can be confusing and with our knowledge we can provide the translation and help make it easier for users to understand, removing the “fear” of something going wrong.
Back Up Solutions
Have you ever been writing a document, your computer freezes and you have to restart it, then you remember you haven’t clicked save for about half an hour? Imagine this on a larger scale. Sometimes things go wrong, it’s a fact of technology but an IT manager can help provide regular back-ups to ensure you and your employee’s data is safe. We make sure that redundancies are in place so that there is minimal disruption when restoring information and everything is backed up. We offer cloud based solutions which we feel are the most flexible, secure and effective (as well as quick and easy to restore to get you back up and running in the event of a failure.)
Let us teach your staff how to use their technology in the most effective way, from shortcuts to user-guides, IT management aims to create a unified relationship between user and technology so you are using it to its fullest potential for your business. Knowledgeable staff are able to cope with problems without panicking as well as knowing what to do in basic situations and when to call the experts, think first aid training for computers. A handy skillset for your employees.
Ultimately, IT management can streamline processes, boost productivity and improve customer service in the hospitality industry and at the end of the day, it’s the service that matters. For these reasons, hospitality industry needs IT management.
If you’re in the hospitality industry and want more info on what our IT managers can do for you, visit our list of services or get in contact.
75% of people say that a week without WI-FI would leave them grumpier than a week without coffee. We are seeing more and more mobile devices needing WI-FI, to the point that it is becoming essential to attract the customer. So is Wi-Fi in hospitality needed?
When was the last time you booked a hotel without Wi-Fi? Hotel Chatter found that 94% of people cite internet access as their most important amenity, yet they found that only 64% of hotels offer it free to their customers. The hospitality industry should take note, as 38% of hotel customers say that they would book elsewhere if there was no Wi-Fi available.
Wi-Fi in the Hospitality Industry
Things to bear in mind when offering Wi-Fi include:
Is it reliable?
People are more likely to be put off by bad Wi-Fi, rather than no WI-FI
You must factor in capacity as more and more people are carrying more than one or two devices (e.g. Work Phone, Personal Phone, Tablets etc.)
Is it Fast?
Can it support multiple devices uploading photo/video as well as voice and video calls simultaneously?
Do you have the infrastructure and bandwidth on-site to handle the extra load once you offer Wi-Fi?
Impact on staff/operations
When offering this speed for your clients you must also look at:
The costs of the bandwidth
Allocations of speed and bandwidth to staff, client and business devices
Ensure that you are not hindering your own core operational devices and services
Permitting and monitoring staff access to Wi-Fi during breaks/out of hours.
Is your guest Wi-Fi in line with government legislations for your city or country?
Wi-Fi is an easy target.
Are you securing your business devices?
How are you protecting your clients?
Is your current solution taking up valuable IT resources?
So how do you meet these requirements, while keeping your technologically inclined and demanding customers happy?
You will need a Wi-Fi solution that covers the following:
High Quality Business Grade Hardware
Giving software reliability
Regular updates for both security and legislation
Allowing control of multiple sites
Giving easy “big picture” monitoring and alerting
Fast and Simple Deployment
Easy Multiple SSID Control
Allowing bandwidth control
Allowing Separation of Data
In planning, designing and implementing a Wi-Fi solution for clients that need to tick all of these boxes, I found a solution that handles this and much more. This allows a smooth, non-invasive deployment, leaving a Wi-Fi resolution that is robust, easy to grow and light on IT Management resources.
We had a very positive experience with Meraki (Cisco Meraki) products to deliver best-in-class Wi-Fi solutions.
Written by James Ratcliffe – Project Manager at Towerwatch Solutions LTD
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