Sheraton & Westin Meeting Facility Boosts Bandwidth and Shores Up Connectivity with Fiber

As one of the largest flexible meeting spaces in the Midwest, we at Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center and The Westin Kansas City at Crown Center are constantly investing in an enhanced technological infrastructure to accommodate the evolving needs of customers and guests. Gone are the days of traveling solely with a laptop. Leisure and business travelers are now bringing two or more devices on property including laptops, smartphones and tablets.
According to the latest CWT Meetings & Events forecast, the use of technology at events will hit an all-time high in 2015 including platforms such as social media and event apps (Top 6 Meeting Trends for 2015, Successful Meetings). Because of this, you can absolutely destroy a meeting by not having the right bandwidth. Free, fast and reliable Internet is a must to keep guests happy and connected.
Switch to fiber shores up connectivity
Following a $22 million renovation in both hotels that included significant upgrades to guest rooms and improvements to both meeting rooms and lobbies, we wanted to make sure we stayed ahead of customers’ needs with our tech infrastructure and ultimately position ourselves as the bandwidth leader in the Kansas City and overall Midwest market. To do this, we worked with local partner Computers & Tele-Comm., Inc. (CTC) to:
Upgrade 200 Mbps bandwidth for the complex to 1 Gbps (representing a 500% increase)
Make the switch from wireless delivery to fiber cables
Upgrade routers and switches to be able to support the new speeds
The entire process took about four months from decision to cut-over, most of which included our ISP (Internet Service Provider) finding a way to get the circuit into the complex and tested. Initially, we were two properties working with two different ISPs and separate networks. While this worked successfully in previous years, it began to limit us in accommodating the larger, more demanding network needs we are facing more frequently each day. Once we decided to move forward with a 1 Gbps circuit to replace our previous separate 100 Mbps circuits, we began our logistics planning.
Our new unified ISP for the hotels, CTC, worked to get the actual fiber circuit into the building. Meanwhile, our hotel audiovisual and network management partner, PSAV, worked on the necessary internal hardware upgrades necessary to handle the new more robust service, as well as unifying the properties onto one centralized router.
The PSAV team installed a new router that would feed both hotels and a new main distribution switch at each location for management purposes, all capable of the new GB circuit. Once the ISP was in place and tested thoroughly for about a week, PSAV came in for an overnight cut-over at the Sheraton, and then a week later at the Westin.
The downtime was minimal, with guests only experiencing approximately a 10-minute outage at 1 a.m. while the final connections were physically made.  We did not release the old ISPs at each property until the new circuit was confirmed stable and all equipment, including hotel back office and meeting room spaces, were online for a few weeks. This allowed PSAV an emergency backup if something were to happen with the new circuit.
As the famous saying goes, no news is good news. The renovation was a smooth transition with minimal impact to the guest experience.  Guests expect fast Internet, and the fact we haven’t heard of any issues since the upgrade speaks to the seamless process we had with our experienced partners. We’re proud to now offer the fastest Internet in the Kansas City market, if not the region, with the flexibility to shift bandwidth from meeting spaces and guest rooms to accommodate groups of different sizes in each property.
  So far, meeting planner feedback regarding the upgrade has been very positive. We look forward to hearing more feedback as we continue to create awareness for this effort. Internet bandwidth can make or break a meeting for attendees, and we will continue to stay ahead of the technology curve with future renovations at the complex. Being a facility of our size requires the most continuous innovation.
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds