Cisco eyes Australian hospitality market

Cisco is making a play for the Australian hospitality market which it sees as an area ripe for the triple and four-play content market including video on demand.

The vendor is using the 7970 colour touchscreen phone as a way to pitch on-demand and personalized services to hotels in Australia.

So far, 50 hotels around the world have installed the 7970 for guests, with one Perth-based hotel signing on to deploy the units to rooms.

Cisco is currently in negotiations with five hotel chains for deployment of the handset in Australia. Two of these hotels have relocated to greenfield sites. The package, titled Hotel SimPhonE uses software provided by PIVoD that ties in with the Cisco Building Resource Management System (BRMS) for resource allocations. The handset is a master remote control that reaches all IP-enabled equipment throughout a hotel room - from a refrigerator to lighting, guest services and eventually access to video on demand.

According to Cisco account manager Steve Briscoe, hotels worldwide are serious about triple-play phones for the extra services and ease of use; however, due to the lack of revenue gained through current analogue phone systems want to encourage more guests to use in-house telephones rather than a their own mobile phone.

Briscoe said that the single cable used for voice, video and data also means it is cheaper for a hotel to run extra services over their network.

"Hotels are looking to increase their revenue per available room, therefore increasing the revenue of the hotel - a lot of hotels with existing cat 5 or coax cables are looking to replace them this year or next," Briscoe said.

"Most people perceive the current analogue hotel phone costs as more than their mobile phone to use - one network from coax to IP means dollar savings for collaboration of services.

"There are also toll bypass functions where a circuit can route calls overseas for cheaper rates - which the hotel can choose to pass on."

Hospitality managers however, only partly share the view of Briscoe. While they agree that analogue phone systems are a black hole in terms of revenue, they are more worried about getting existing IT services working for staff. Some see the handsets as only appealing to highly priced executive suites.

One hotel manager who wished to remain anonymous stated that they would be more concerned about getting working and appropriate IT kit for staff before they concentrated on raising revenues through new technology.

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