Cloud Communication Trends in 2023 – Staying Ahead of Tomorrow’s Needs
As 2023 peeks its head around the corner, many in our industry wonder if they should duck and cover or step into the new year with the hope of normalcy. Regardless of your tendency, the word of the new year that will resonate will undoubtedly be “caution.”
As the world continues to spin, those who work in the hospitality industry are looking forward to a return to business as usual. With budget season coming to a close, RFPs are being written, and vendors are gearing up to fulfill contracts by year-end. With that in mind, technological progress never fails to surprise. The past two years have been a catalyst for advancing all forms of technology, but nothing as great as the conversion to cloud communication technology at the property level.
Let’s explore some of the trends we are seeing with regard to the trends in cloud communication systems, how the industry is tapping into the cloud to solve specific challenges and what to watch out for when signing new contracts.
Buying Hardware is a Thing of the Past
Leasing business equipment has been a standard practice for years; however, many hotels purchased the ubiquitous PBX system that continues to linger in our industry. This equipment, typically with a lifespan of 10-15 years, requires an average of 25 hours of service a month.
Even worse, the expense of maintaining an ongoing service contract continues to grow. The reality is that this aging technology is fading fast. Many hoteliers find this equipment harder and more expensive to repair as parts become difficult to obtain.
Several years ago, vendors provided upgrade paths to ensure the old technology would integrate with cloud technologies. Those who chose this path, taking advantage of reduced rates to upgrade old equipment, now find the expense of maintaining such equipment an ever-increasing budget item.
Just like that old car sitting in your garage, the time for repairing, patching the holes, or painting over the rust, is long gone. Hoteliers know the needs of today’s guests are ever-changing. The demand for high-speed internet, communication via mobile devices, remote check-in, and digital key cards are all trends requiring upgrades or total hardware replacement within older hotels. The PBX is no different.
All that said, the development of advanced cloud communication systems has solved the challenge of maintaining old equipment. Leasing equipment ensures the hotel always has the latest technology, and the reality is that cloud communication systems require little to no onsight maintenance. Additionally, updates and new features are implemented remotely with little or no downtime.
That brings us to our second trend, the greater responsibility of the hotel owner/operator and the technology vendors they work with.
Using Technology to Be Socially Responsible
As Hurricane Ian ravaged Florida, Puerto Rico, and others, hoteliers were faced with devastation unlike anything seen in recent history. The terror associated with natural disasters can be overwhelming, particularly if you are a hotelier responsible for staff and guests’ safety.
While this isn’t a topic we like to discuss, it is relevant and timely. This is a time when technology can and should come to the aid of those facing certain destruction. It is also a time when hotel owners/operators can step up and demonstrate to guests the extraordinary steps they can take to protect them.
Innovative cloud communication vendors have the capability to notify and help a hotel prepare in advance of a catastrophe and during the aftermath. For instance, a hotel owner with an advanced cloud communication system can ensure their guests and staff are immediately notified via text message to exit the building.
Advanced systems also provide the ability to forward phones to a phone number that is off the property, where staff at remote offices can answer incoming calls. It also allows the hotel to implement an emergency message to advise the community, including friends and family of guests and staff, about the status of the property and its inhabitants.
Unfortunately, natural calamities aren’t the only potential disasters facing hoteliers. Think about what could have been done during the Vegas shooting some years ago if the hotel had had the capability to notify guests and/or its staff via cell phone to avoid the affected floor or to stay in their rooms.
Social responsibility in disaster or other scenarios is not a nice to have; it is a must-have. Guests will remember those hotels that take the extra step to notify and protect them during these times.
Additionally, federal laws are ever-changing and ongoing. For instance, the recent mandate by the FCC to implement a Suicide Hotline was required to be completed by July 2022. Hotels operating with old PBX hardware had to work with their vendors to implement these changes onsite or face regulatory backlash.
SaaS technology is here to stay; it powers the hospitality industry today. The phone system is no different.
Streamlining Tech Support
High turnover rates and today’s staffing issues have left many front desk personnel, managers, and operations staff with equipment that was likely purchased before their time. This means many are left scratching their heads when trying to decide whom to call if there is an issue with onsite phone equipment. What if a line goes down? Is it the phone vendor, the cable vendor, or the PBX vendor?
We know that as the phone systems of yesterday (PBX) age out, so will the need to have multiple vendors for support and equipment upgrades. In truth, cloud communication vendors have alleviated this challenge while providing a value-add for hotels looking to streamline on-property support contracts.
Engaging with holistic cloud communication providers that support the entire network from the phone system equipment to the cloud along with the voice and communication services is a trend that not only alleviates the challenges of whom to call when there is an issue but also saves high operational costs later down the line.
2023 – The Return of the Traveler
All signs point to a return to business as usual in 2023. Is your hotel prepared to provide the service your guests demand when it comes to communications? Have you streamlined communication processes and maintenance costs ahead of the new year?
Alternatively, are you taking advantage of its benefits if you have converted to a cloud communication phone system? If you aren’t sure, connect with your vendor to ensure you are aware of software benefits such as forwarding calls or instant notifications to guests and staff, particularly in preparation for disaster scenarios. Once you have that information in hand, you can build contingency plans and ensure all parties know the steps you have taken to implement safety protocols.
Times are changing and changing fast. Hoteliers continue to face challenges, but those challenges should not include how to communicate with guests and onsite staff or determine which vendor to call when equipment fails. Those challenges have been solved. It’s called cloud communications.