Making the call

Kuwait's Holiday Inn Kuwait deployed IP telephony from the start, tackle a number of challenges.

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By  Eliot Beer Published  May 3, 2008

The Holiday Inn Kuwait deployed IP telephony from the start of the hotel build, and had to tackle a number of challenges to win through and deploy successfully.

"We wanted this hotel to have high-tech facilities in the rooms, in terms of internet, interactive TV, and in terms of telephones.

By the end of 2006 we faced a number of problems with Cisco's BBSM system.

We wanted to have a competitive edge in the Kuwaiti market, we wanted to be different to the other hotels," explains Carlos Malliaroudakis, the current general manager of the Holiday Inn Downtown Kuwait, when asked why the hotel decided to install an IP telephony system right from the start of the property's development.

Although IP phones are becoming more commonplace, many regional hotels still lack the technology, relying instead on older PSTN PBX systems.

While it can be understandable to not want to rip and replace a telephony system in an existing hotel - especially something familiar and reliable - the Holiday Inn brand's parent company, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), along with many others, now mandates IP telephony for its new projects.

"We started the hotel from scratch with IP phones, with Cisco - Cisco is our standard, within IHG," elaborates Tamer Sherif, IT manager at the hotel.

"We're following our group standard - we need to have Cisco, there's no other choice for us. We needed to have the latest technology, and not to upgrade every year - we were looking for a long-term approach."

The hotel's initial management team, which included Sherif, but under a different GM, started planning for the project in 2005, and had the IT systems - including the IP phones - ready for the scheduled opening on 22 March 2006. To reach this point was not plain sailing however.

"During the installation, the project manager at our integrator left the company in the middle of the project, and his replacement didn't have much experience in the hotel industry and with hotel projects. He faced a lot of challenges during the implementation - it took time, but by the end he solved all the problems he encountered. He didn't have the experience to do this from the start, though - there was no significant handover between bosses," says Sherif.

He also explains another technical, problem he and his staff faced: "The Cisco switches were not capable of supplying all the 7970 telephone sets with power. The switches could only supply power for 11 rooms per floor, not 12 - so we had to put an adaptor in for the 12th room."

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