Holiday Inn, Sutton

Holiday Inn, Sutton

Client: Holiday Inn
Type of works: supply and implementation of CST's low-cost HotelGenesis comms system.

CST's low-cost onsite comms package, HotelGenesis, delivers fast, efficient customer service; getting staff to the right place at the right time.

Tom Lord from Holiday Inn contacted the previous supplier and was quoted almost £20,000 for a system that only gave him staff paging. Then he was approached by Call-Systems Technology (CST), the hospitality communications specialists, who offered the Genesis Paging Solution, including a 12-room conference call button system, at one-third the price. Tom agreed to trial the system and he's never looked back.

The CST package is built around HotelGenesis, a PC/Windows based software programme that controls all the onsite communications, delivering specific messages and instructions to staff quickly, easily and discreetly.

Tom explains: "For example, suppose I want to tell the Maintenance Manager that he has a contractor in reception. With the old system, I'd have to phone the pager system and it would page him, telling him to phone me. He would have to find a phone, call me, then (assuming I hadn't been called away in the meantime) I could deliver the message.

"With the new system, I simply send a text from my computer to the Maintenance Manager's pager, telling him the visitor is waiting in reception. Job done."

The improvement in customer service is huge, because communications are so much faster. Tom says the improvement is particularly notable with housekeeping: previously, staff might have to walk long distances to get to phones to respond to pagers, now they can react instantly to paged instructions (such as, 'take a pillow to room 95').

HotelGenesis also allows users to send pager messages by phone, but again the process is much simpler than before. "You just dial up the system, enter the pager number and HotelGenesis tells the recipient to call you," says Tom. "So it gives us two powerful and fast ways to contact people."

But HotelGenesis is much more than a paging system; it also runs the Sutton Holiday Inn's 'ConferenceCall' service. Each board and function room has its own ConferenceCall button, mounted in an attractive wooden housing. When service is required, the guest simply pushes the button, which automatically pages the appropriate member of staff with the message 'Service required in boardroom x'.

"In some hotel business centres you'll have staff on hand all the time, waiting to serve customers. ConferenceCall means they can get on with other tasks, but are instantly available to service customers' needs."

What's more, staff only need to carry one pager, as HotelGenesis routes ConferenceCall messages through the main communications system.

And there are more benefits. "Because the new pager system is so instant, we no longer need to use the intrusive walkie talkies, except for emergencies", says Tom.

The HotelGenesis is remarkably easy to use - and to learn to use. "People never like change, so when we introduced it there was plenty of grumbling. But within two days everyone had adapted to it," says Tom. "CST came and trained us but, to be honest, it's so simple you don't need much."

Now all of the team are fully behind the system - in fact, they are developing it for themselves. "When we have a big banquet the bar can get deluged with guests," explains Tom. "Bar staff now take one of the ConferenceCall buttons and, if they need help, use it to summon extra staff. They've sorted that out for themselves, with no input from CST or management."

The computer interface is easy to manage, too, allowing users to reassign pagers, send messages to groups (such all bar staff) and so on. Because HotelGenesis logs messages it provides valuable management information, from proving that the duty manager really was paged 23 times to sort out the guest in room 103, to highlighting the need for more staff in a particular area.

HotelGenesis can also send out automated messages on a regular basis. Tom uses this function to remind colleagues to attend the daily 10.00am staff meeting, preventing any latecomers. It can be programmed to remind maintenance staff about regular tasks and, with the right interfaces, even to monitor alarms and automatically page relevant staff when one goes off - such as security if an unused door is opened or catering staff if a fridge loses temperature.

Tom is already thinking of making more use of HotelGenesis' facilities. "We're looking at interfacing HotelGenesis with our fire alarm system to combat false alarms," he says. "When an alarm goes off, HotelGenesis will page members of staff who are trained as a fire investigation team. They'll have three minutes to check the alarm - if it's a false one, there will be no need to evacuate the guests." Again, this enhancement will use the same hardware as the rest of the CST system, so staff will still only be carrying one pager.

Tom Lord is delighted with the CST system. "It does everything we want and more," he says. "Staff like it and use it and it's delivered big improvements in customer service. The hardware is great and the software backs it up. It's fantastic."

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