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Tue 21 Dec 2004 04:00 AM

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Wired solutions for WiFi hotels

TeleAdapt’s latest product helps bridge the gap between wireless internet access and laptops requiring wired connectivity

|~|deskbridge_left_wht2.jpg|~||~|Hospitality IT solutions provider TeleAdapt recently launched its latest internet connectivity product, the DeskBridge, designed to offer wireless internet access to laptops not having wireless on board.

The simple solution sees a continuation of the TeleAdapt DeskHub product, insomuch as it offers a spooled ethernet cable that connects direct to the guest’s laptop. What is new is that this product comes complete with an antenna that picks up the property’s wireless local area network (WLAN).

For the guest it is as easy as pulling out the cable from the DeskBridge and plugging it into their laptop. There is no need to install any software or drivers, or even supply their own patch cable.

For the hotel or hot spot operator, the DeskBridge can come pre-configured for their specific wireless network, ignoring any other networks within the vicinity.

The DeskBridge is fully compatible with both IEEE 802.11b and g networks and can be customised to a customer’s house branding and colour. It is weighted to stay put on the desk and can be fixed to the desk if this is required. There also is a slot provided to hold tariff or promotional cards.

“There are four main advantages to this product; it saves costs, it can carry the hotel’s branding, it offers the opportunity for standardisation across hotel chains, and it increases high-speed internet access (HSIA) revenue,” says Abhishek Bose, business development manager for TeleAdapt in the Middle East.

Maximising profit

The global spread of wireless networks in hotels has been driven by the idea of providing access whenever and wherever anyone wants to get connected. However, according to TeleAdapt, a low take-up of these services is often a result of most laptops not having wireless on board or that many corporations do not allow their travellers to connect to wireless networks for security reasons. This is where TeleAdapt sees the DeskBridge coming in.

TeleAdapt already offers a wide variety of connectivity products. The group has also created custom-designed products for hotel chains wanting to offer a standardised product.

For InterContinental Hotels (IHG), TeleAdapt created the WorldLink deskhub. “The Worldlink has been designed exclusively for the InterContinental brand. It is now part of the brand standard to have the Worldlink available on the desk for the guest to take advantage of the connectivity,” explains Yves Gaillard, director of IT, Middle East and Africa, InterContinental Hotels Group.

InterContinental Hotels Group declared in April 2004 that HSIA should be mandatory to all its hotels, regardless of brand. All hotels have been requested to install HSIA by end of 2004.

As a result of this, the group is now in discussions with TeleAdapt to design a similar connector to the Worldlink for its Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Express and Staybridge brands.“We are not far from the final prototype and deployment will happen soon. The final prototype will be presented to the EMEA executive committee. This connector will be very cost effective and will facilitate the connectivity for our guests,” Gaillard explains. TeleAdapt has a contract with IHG to supply Worldlink connections for 62,000 rooms. To date, 32,000 units have been installed, with the remaining units to be installed in line with the new HSIA mandate.

Spooled resources

Regional hotel chain, Rotana Hotels, signed a contract with TeleAdapt to install the DeskSpool in 3,000 rooms. The DeskSpool is TeleAdapt’s most popular product. It offers hotels a low-cost connection solution offering a built-in RJ45 or RJ11 cable, thus eliminating the recurring costs of lost or broken cables.

“We need our guest to be able to quickly and easily connect to the internet. Installing the DeskSpool helped us achieve our objective. It also helped the hotels to market this service and have it very well exposed to the guest,” says Samir Abi Frem, director of IT, Rotana Hotels.

Rotana aims to offer HSIA in all its hotel rooms by the end of the year, with HSIA also being made available in all Rotana Suites by the end of Q1, 2005.

“High-speed internet is a service that every Rotana should have. It is not any more a choice for the hotel; instead, it has become a must have service for the guest,” adds Abi Frem.

Emirates Towers Hotel, part of the Jumeirah International Group, also offers DeskSpools in its guest rooms. The hotel has used TeleAdapt’s customisation service to add branding to the products on offer.

“TeleAdapt provides us with a selection of adapters and connection equipment and has proven to be flexible with regards to functionality and design,” comments Frank Zuehlke, director of IT, Emirates Towers Hotel.“The spoolers have proven to be the ideal solution in our guestrooms in functionality, presentation and reliability,” he adds.

Minibar assets

In addition to its connectivity products, TeleAdapt has also branched into consumer and minibar products. The recent addition to its portfolio is the ChargeCentre, which contains mobile phone chargers, laptop power supplies, and PDA chargers for all the most popular brands. Also included in the ChargeCentre is a universal camera battery charger, as well as an iPod and Gameboy charger.

“The ChargeCentre is an ideal addition to the service we offer our customers at the business centre and has proven to be highly valued by our customers,” says Emirates Towers’ Zuehlke.

Similar products, marketed from the in-room minibar, include the USB TeleCharger and USB cigarette lighter adapter. One of the most commonly forgotten items when travelling is the mobile phone charger. The USB TeleCharger enables guests to charge their phones from their laptop or car. It contains a USB charger, four tips to cover the most popular Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola phones, plus a USB to cigarette lighter for auto use.

“The mini bar kits are a source of revenue. I have recommended these kits, including the ChargeCentre for the business centre, to all our regional directors of operations and general managers,” says Gaillard from the InterContinental Hotels Group.||**||

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