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Hospitality Phone Systems

June 20, 2018

11:20 am

Technology in the hospitality sector has evolved considerably in recent years, so much so that hotels, restaurants and other hospitality providers can operate much more efficiently.

Being able to communicate effectively is crucial in a customer focused industry and a good telephone system is therefore a necessity. Luckily, modern phone system technology can be tailored to suit the size and requirements of your business, from a small local restaurant to a vast luxury hotel.

Different Types of Hospitality & Hotel Phone Systems

The type of phone system you choose will very much depend on the demands of your business and the budget available to create a communications network. There are several systems regularly used in the hospitality industry, these are:

Key Service Unit (KSU) Telephones

As specialist systems, these units are only used by businesses. They require professional installation because they are hard wired into the network. This type of system is also connected to a central unit somewhere on the premises which has a connection to the external services supplied by the telephone provider.

Not only do these systems require professional installation, they are quite demanding, requiring regular maintenance and servicing by a company who specialize in KSU systems.

The KSU telephone network can support between 5 and 40 telephone lines which is great if you need multiple extensions to different areas of a hotel or restaurant.

Non KSU Telephone Systems

Many telephones in domestic properties function through a non-KSU system. Businesses can also use these phones provided that a property has a working phone system and the business doesn’t have demanding communication requirements.

Sometimes used by small restaurants these phone systems are most suited to those businesses who only need five lines or less or companies who have a tight budget.

Private Branch Exchange (PBX) Telephones

Some larger restaurants and hotels would certainly benefit from a private branch exchange system. Very similar to KSU phones, they rely on a connected network to operate and must be professionally installed and serviced.

However with a PBX solution you can only install one system to cover multiple business locations or over 40 lines.

VoIP Phone System

Voice over Internet Protocol systems are growing in popularity and are offered by a number of VoIP providers. They are Internet based and allow users to make and receive telephone calls through an Internet connection rather than using the usual telephone lines.

In the majority of cases, VoIP providers offer their customers lower fees and they are great for business use. One of the biggest benefits with VoIP systems is the fact they are cloud based and can be hosted externally meaning you do not have to worry about telecom services taking up space on your premises. To function correctly VoIP phone systems do rely on a reliable Internet connection, however this should already be a necessity for modern hotels and restaurants.

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Hotel Phone Systems

A hotel phone system is not really that much different to your regular business telephone network.

The key differences arise however when you start to look at the features available for hotel phone systems and how they expand beyond the provision of a simple telephone handset.

In the hospitality sector, hotel telephone systems for example can use specially designed handsets to be used in guest rooms. These handsets have a limited set of features and only allow internal calls.

Many phone systems within the hotel industry today will either use PBX or VoIP technology. A PBX system is a more traditional telephone solution and they are thought to be more reliable, but costs can soon add up.

A VoIP phone system on the other hand is more advanced and hosted in the cloud eliminating the requirement for a traditional phone system. They also offer a range of advanced features and improved call quality.

Hotels may sometimes require an Internet phone system to connect to each room and an external phone system to reach suppliers, customers and other contacts. Although some smaller hotels and Bed and Breakfast establishments can cope very well with a basic phone system, there are a number of benefits to installing a more modern system that can better fulfill the requirements of both guests and hotel management.

The more advanced hotel phone systems offer your guests the usual functions of a telephone in addition to features such as a wake up call, reminder or the ability to make external calls which are connected to the customer’s account and the bill settled when a check outs.

Advanced phone systems can bring several benefits to hotels from improved customer service to increased efficiency and better communications between staff. Other advantages include:

  • Managing reservations & room bookings
  • Improve internal communication processes
  • Dealing with hotel guest inquiry’s & requests
  • Allow reception staff to transfer and hold calls easily for guests

Best Hotel Phone Reviews

If you manage a business in the hospitality sector you need to know which phone is most suited to your hotel. In this section of our guide we review some of the most popular phone systems for businesses in this industry.

1. Ericsson iPECS LIP-9071

Editor Rating: 5 stars

Specifically designed for use in hotels, this model is created with mobile staff in mind. Hotel staff can keep in touch while working across many areas of a hotel, from the restaurant to housekeeping and this equipment features Wi-Fi, DECT and Smartphone integration for staff to use while they are on the move.

2. Mitel 400 Hospitality Package

Editor Rating: 5 stars

All hoteliers want to provide their guests with the best experience during their stay and the Mitel 400 phone is just one of the things hotels can use to achieve this. The built in technology of this phone, it is flexible enough to meet the requirements of both guests and staff using IP technology for communications.

3. Cisco Hospitality Phone Systems

Editor Rating: 5 stars

As a leader in telephony, Cisco offer a number of modern telephone systems which can significantly improve operations and enhance guest experience. Cisco’s IP phones offer an unrivaled customer experience and a range of advanced features including public switched telephone networks which enable guests to make local and long distance calls.

4. NEC Hospitality Solutions

Editor Rating: 5 stars

Featuring a useful MyCalls Call Management system to generate call reports for each room, this telephone is great for use in the hotel industry.

Featuring a practical room status feature, the phones can also be programmed to indicate whether they need cleaning or when they are available for booking. Guests can also benefit from a wake up call and a selection of other features which make it a great choice for use in any hotel.

Restaurant Phone Systems

A restaurant is not the easiest of businesses to run and a good telephone system is crucial. There are numerous systems and technologies that can be used to streamline your communications, whether you are a small restaurant or a large establishment.

Restaurant phones can offer a range of features such as the ability to set up menu selections using the telephone keypad or deliver an automated service. Booking and reservations are also often handled over the phone meaning crystal clear sound quality is a huge benefit.

With many different types of phones available ensuring you choose the right system is crucial.

If you are a formal, fine dining establishment you would probably benefit from more than one telephone line so you can take reservations, or perhaps you have a delivery service, in which case a multi-line phone system may be best. One of your telephone lines should be dedicated to taking telephone bookings and payments if this is a service that you offer while additional lines can remain free for any customer queries or bookings.

Choosing a Hospitality Phone System

Whether you run a hotel or a restaurant in the hospitality sector, as outlined already in this guide the phone system you rely on to meet your communication requirements has a huge impact on the efficiency of your business.

Choosing a KSU or PBX system will involve careful thought and discussion with companies who supply telephone equipment to see if you can secure any deals in terms of financing or leasing. While VoIP providers also offer a number of benefits of their own, particularly as the solutions they offer are suited to modern businesses.

If your hotel or restaurant is only small, you can start with the most affordable phone system that will adequately support your business and then add to the system or upgrade to an alternative pack if your business grows. Other considerations that need to be taken into account when choosing your hospitality phone system are:

  • Number of calls: telephone systems should be able to comfortably handle all calls during your busiest times. If they are struggling, you may need to upgrade your system.
  • Business expansion: if you have plans for growth you should select a telephone system which is capable of changing easily as demand for your business expands.
  • Accessories: some hospitality businesses may need a fully functioning telephone system with a range of accessories integrated into the system such as point of sale features, headsets for processing bookings or voicemail.
  • Protection: in a busy restaurant a phone may be placed in the kitchen so it needs adequate protection from any unwanted ingredients used by restaurant staff. Phones in busy working environments should have guards for the keypad and handset to protect the equipment.
  • Staff training: often overlooked, this is a key consideration. You need to consider whether staff will need training on any new phone system and how this is to be delivered. Sometimes phone suppliers may offer free training so it’s always worth asking on installation.
  • Ongoing maintenance: as with any piece of equipment, phones do require regular servicing, maintenance and occasionally repair. You should ascertain who is responsible for maintaining the systems once they are installed.
  • Cost: this is always a deciding factor when purchasing any new equipment and your telephone systems are no different. Choose a phone system that is within your budget but one that will meet your future requirements. Invest wisely and choose a system that you know will adequately support your business.

Restaurants and hotels have very specific requirements when it comes to installing a phone system and there are a range of options which can be used to tailor the systems to meet the communication requirements of your business.

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Richard Parris is the Managing Editor of TechCo.

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