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Don't Lose Touch: Four Hip Ways Hotels Can Trim their Telecom Bill

It’s desirable and hip to improve your hotel’s profit margin, but that often involves a strategic balancing act of raising efficiency, boosting revenue and reducing expenditures—not an easy juggle, especially when it involves technology issues within the hospitality industry.
Technology’s very purpose is to deliver efficiency to the company and relevance and satisfaction to customers, but when eyeing this item on balance sheets, businesses tend to look toward investment rather than opportunities for cost savings. But it doesn’t have to be this way—cost savings are usually abundant in telecom, if you know where to look, according to Melinda Curran, founder and CEO of RCG, a single-source telecommunications solutions provider.
In the case of voice and data networks, companies often install these when the business opens—then just pay the monthly bills—but forget to evolve their networks as the company grows. More often than not, they lose touch with their telecom providers and miss out on essential conversations that can really drive significant cost savings.
And so according to RCG and Curran, there are four primary ways to lower a telecom bill and keep cool with cost savings:
1. Deploy a telecom audit. To trim the fat off of your communications infrastructure, you first need a diagnostic overview of your network, which includes all voice, data and mobility technologies. By deploying a telecom audit, experts are able to take a comprehensive look at your telecom bills and your network to determine how your system could be streamlined to generate a maximum efficiency.
For instance, in hotels, you need a lot of phones, but not necessarily a lot of phone lines. As cell phones have become ubiquitous among customers, many of a hotel’s voice lines could be eliminated because of the lower call volume.
Audit experts can also uncover antiquated or inefficient hardware and determine if current service plans and agreements can be shifted to better optimize your current telecom usage and needs. RCG finds that many companies (especially those with multiple locations) contract with seven or eight different carriers, and they don’t realize that many of these services overlap. Consolidating carriers can save potentially thousands of dollars every month.
2. Position voice technology in line with long-term tech trends. Purchasing new communications equipment is inevitable over time. But, without doing the right research, new capital investments could become obsolete sooner than expected – which increases the cost of maintenance and could even lead to premature replacement. This is especially the case regarding voice systems in hotels, which are strategically moving towards Voice over IP infrastructures (VoIP), which transmits telephone calls over the Internet, delivering a very high quality digital output at a low cost. For example, many VoIP systems are hosted through cloud providers, which can further reduce capital outlay by transferring the IP servers to an off-site vendor.
Even if a company is not ready to transition to VoIP networks now, it’s important to make sure your legacy systems are compatible with the technology and able to adapt to it in the future.
3. Balance bandwidth needs. Data support is a critical part of both your internal operations and the customer experience. But achieving data reliability for the right price again requires understanding your usage and needs. Buying too little bandwidth for data support can mean latency, jitters and disrupted downloads, but having more bandwidth than you need is a waste of money.
Aligning bandwidth needs is also a benefit of deploying a telecom audit on the front end. Experts can tell you exactly how you use data and can calculate how much bandwidth you need to support a consistently reliable connection. If you forgo an audit, it is up to you to monitor and analyze your customers’ Internet usage and to account for what internal operations require. Keep in mind that data needs are not just Web-browser based. VoIP technology will require sufficient bandwidth and must be taken into consideration.
4. Forecast future usage. A little strategy can go a long way when it comes to cutting telecom costs, and Curran said many hotel owners don’t realize that their company’s future could impact their telecom bills now.
For example, if you plan to expand in size or number of services, factor those plans into a telecom system that can easily scalable to meet future needs. Doing so allows bandwidth size to expand as your needs dictate years after a network installation, preventing costly rip and replacement costs that would be necessary otherwise.
Growth plans can also be used for price and service negotiations. Many companies don’t proactively leverage their three- to five-year plans to negotiate significant discounts. By setting growth benchmarks into contracts, providers understand they their contracts can grow with the business, and can discount prices so long as projections are met.
Even if you aren’t planning to grow, don’t ignore the future of your contracts. You should always anticipate telecom contract renewals months in advance and begin the negotiation process early. This will buy time to research other carriers’ prices and promotions, gain an accurate understanding of current and future telecom needs and keep the negotiation alive by continuing to field counter offers.
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