Your primary concern as a hotel owner or manager is your ability to meet the needs of your guests, and empowering your employees is a good way to do that. Making the switch from a traditional hotel communications system to a SIP (session initiated protocol) trunking service is an excellent way to improve your employees’ efficiency, but some hoteliers are concerned about the transition.
So should you make the switch to a modern VoIP (voice over internet protocol) system or stick with what you have? To make that decision, you should know what you’re getting into. If you’re wondering about the differences between the two options and the pros and cons of analog and SIP trunking, we’re here to help.
What are Analog Trunks?
In this case, “trunk” is an industry term for a particular phone line. If you have a landline phone plugged into the wall that rings when a particular number is called, that’s one trunk. These systems are built on thousands of miles of copper wire strung all over the world and through almost every building, and the technology hasn’t changed much in about a century.
For two analog systems to communicate, they have to be physically connected through the network of wires we just mentioned, then routed through the Public Switched Telephone Network (PTSN) in order to make calls. Analog systems aren’t completely obsolete — they’re reliable, stable, and can sometimes even function without power, which is useful in an emergency or remote location.
But on the other hand, they tend to be expensive, with one trunk costing around $38 per month to maintain. They’re also inflexible. A single trunk can only handle one phone call at a time and it can’t be moved without rewiring the building, so your ability to change your phone structure or expand your hotel is seriously limited.
What is SIP Trunking?
Rather than tying each phone number to a physical port in a wall somewhere, SIP trunks transmit data and voice information over your internet connection (including wi-fi). If your hotel already has a high speed internet connection — and let’s face it, virtually every 21st-century hotel does — you don’t need any extra connectivity to use SIP trunking.
You can also use the same internet connection to route your internal calls through your own PBX (private branch exchange). By integrating your guest phones with the phones in the office facilities, front desk, housekeeping, maintenance, and room service systems, you can provide a much more helpful and comprehensive guest experience.
Helping You Save Money and Hassle
Cost savings associated with VoIP technology will vary on a case-by-case basis, but they can be substantial. Part of the savings comes from the flexibility. If your hotel has 200 analog trunks, that’s the number you’re stuck with. But with VoIP phones, you can add or remove any number of phone lines without any extra cost or installation required.
Implementation is fast and easy, too. Once the initial installation is complete, each phone handset will behave like any handset you’re already familiar with — chances are, you’ve been using VoIP phones at some facilities without knowing it. You’ll be able to keep all the same functionality for forwarding calls and dialing extensions that you already have, but you can also reconfigure and add features through a simple web browser.
Perhaps most importantly, upgrading is easier and more cost-effective as well. If you want to add new features to your phone system, like changing the way the system handles emergency calls in response to new legislation or looping in an external call center, you can do so with no infrastructure changes at all.
In order for SIP Trunking to run smoothly, you need to be aware of how many calls your hotel will need to handle at any given time so that your network's capacity can be properly prepared. Since your phones will be sharing bandwidth with the rest of your hotel’s internet activity, a slow connection can reduce the call quality on your phones.
The good news is that phone calls use very little data. If you have 250 phone lines in your hotel being used simultaneously, you’re still only using about 25 megabits per second of bandwidth — roughly the same as a single Ultra HD Netflix stream. Given the internet speeds available in most hotels (and the unlikelihood of 250 simultaneous phone calls), your VoIP calls will likely be a tiny fraction of your total bandwidth needs.
To get a good estimate, track your call traffic during the busiest days of the year as a reference point, and then plan for higher usage than that. It's always best to plan for a little overkill rather than compromise on bandwidth, as it helps to ensure quality communication at all times.
Talk to Phonesuite Today
The more you know about how these systems work, the better you’ll be able to understand your hotel’s needs — but there’s no need to become an expert. Instead, talk to the experts at Phonesuite. Our system is designed for hotels from the ground up, and we’ve installed it in thousands of hotels of all sizes over the last 25 years.
If you’re curious about the cost, you have questions about the capabilities of the system, or you want to know how much it would cost to switch your hotel to VoIP services, get in touch with Phonesuite today! We’ll give you the unified communications system your hotel has needed.