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IT separates

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Businesses operating within the burgeoning hospitality industry have become more reliant upon technology to compete, add value to their offerings and increase market share.

This is according to Robert Sussman, joint MD at Integr8 IT, who says his company has experienced a sharp rise in the demand for network system and infrastructure upgrades from institutions within the leisure and hospitality sector.
This trend is being fuelled by the need to upgrade facilities and secure reliable wireless Internet connectivity for guests.
Integr8 IT has a proud track record of consistent delivery of critical ICT services to the travel, tourism and hospitality markets. However, as Sussman points out, there is now more pressure on service providers that must meet the needs of an industry gearing up for increased trade levels ahead of opportunities such as the FIFA World Cup in 2010.
“Processes and daily business operation is dependent on the most up-to-date technology and systems. Operators have to move with the times and adhere to the changing requirements and tastes of consumers. Visitors now expect to have full connectivity and IT services as an available facility,” says Sussman.
“An increase in competition amongst those in tourism and hospitality has driven up the demand for robust, secure and fast solutions to be put in place. This infrastructure helps the institution attract the ever increasing number of business travelers that rely on high speed Wi-Fi and Internet connectivity to conduct business and communicate effectively across the world,” he adds.
The Victoria & Alfred (V&A) Hotel in Cape Town, nestled in one of the mother city’s most acclaimed tourist destinations, is one example. The institution was the first of its kind in South Africa to offer wireless Internet access in all its rooms.
Integr8 IT has been a managed services provider to the Hotel for many years and  was asked to assist in the upgrade of its wireless infrastructure and sort out stability issues. More specifically there was a need to address the reliability of access points and connectivity, with a specific focus on management.
“The V&A Hotel needed a solution that would supply wireless connectivity to three floors and ninety four suites.  The wireless solution needed to cover the entire hotel and provide an uninterrupted form of connectivity that allowed guests and staff the freedom of movement.  Installation of the solution had to be carried out with the minimal disruption to customers,” adds Sussman.
Lionel Wood, IT manager at the V&A Hotel, says the structure of the hotel itself was also a key factor behind the motivation to install the new systems and infrastructure.
“The hotel is housed in the converted historic 1904 North Quay warehouse with very thick walls and large steel girders throughout the building. This played havoc with wireless signals,” says Wood.
The new solution is based on the best technology wireless LAN Mobility System.  This is an intelligent and managed solution that can alert system administrators to possible network problems before they occur.  
“In the case of the previous two installations, IT staff and managers spent a substantial amount of time connecting guests to the wireless, or physically checking whether the access points scattered throughout the hotel were working. Since installing the new access points, support calls have decreased by ninety percent. We are now able to monitor the whole system remotely, and also monitors all access points and warns of any potential problems,” adds Wood.
“Among the advantages of this solution is connectivity to the financial backend system Fidelio. This provides the functionality of credit card, scratch card and other forms of billing,” Sussman adds.
According to Wood, the Newmark Hotels group recently opened an ultra luxury hotel and spa across the road from the V & A Hotel called the Dock House.
The group has decided to install the solution at the Dock House based on the success and reliability of the equipment at the V&A Hotel.
“There are access points in every suite and wireless bridges between the V & A Hotel and the Dock House to connect the two hotels. All voice and data services are connected to the V & A Hotel, thereby saving us the expense of installing servers and a PABX at both hotels. This has the added advantage of enabling us to monitor all services from one central point,” adds Woods.