Hospitality providers and service providers have a couple things in common. They both want to deliver the ultimate high-speed data experience for their end users, and neither have quite the exact expertise to pull it off.
"The hotel needs to have bandwidth throttling, usage protection, everything that the cable operator does on its network on a daily basis. What the hotel operator doesn't realize is that to the cable operator the hotel just looks like one user. He doesn't realize that in any single month that hotel represents 4,000 to 5,000 users," said Bob Kelly, vice president of operations and general manager of Vector180, a Langhorne, Pa.-based turnkey provider that wants to be the middleman between service and hospitality providers.
A cable operator, Kelly said, can easily deliver a multi-screen package to a hotel, running from video to data to even voice service. Vector180 can do it better because it specializes in the hospitality industry.
"That's the only thing we focus on. We have a lot of tools in our toolbelt to bring the right solution to that property as well as specific tools dedicated to the hospitality industry," he said.
Jim Gross, general manager of the Crowne Park Plaza property in Somerset, N.J. is a Vector180 customer simply because "they do a really good job of managing our bandwidth for our guests."
That, said Kelly, is not rocket science, but it is a specialty that the cable operator might not have in his repertoire.
"We're trying to tell the cable operators, 'Don't just go in and pitch a package to the hotel of video ... now start pitching video, bandwidth, telephony and make it a quad play with WiFi in there with control over your content and you can start to capture that revenue," Kelly said.
Any broadband services provider has the wherewithal to service the property; it doesn't necessarily have the skills--or the desire--to respond to the urgent needs of transient hotel guests whose connection goes down in the middle of the night in the middle of a project, or, more recently, a Netflix or other over-the-top video session or even a Skype video call. The same goes for the property managers; they want to keep the guests happy without getting involved in their electronic needs.
"We go in and tell them we can help get the networks up and to the standard the (property) brand wants. We'll charge for install and a monthly fee for a service call center," Kelly said. "We go to the service providers and say we can go in as a package with video and we'll act as the glue to stay in that hospitality space."
Vector180 has glued shut the Crowne Park Plaza property where guests receive a free service that is passcode-protected to prevent unauthorized users. The hotel uses WiFi throughout and then adds a wireline service for its meeting rooms where companies feel a need for more dependable connections.
"I think it's just becoming easier for one person to handle everything for you," said Gross, who manages 439 rooms for mostly business customers for the Central New Jersey hotel. "I think as we move forward in the hospitality industry that responsibility is a turnkey. You have one point of contact, one expert that is doing everything for you."
Kelly, of course, agrees. He also sees his business expanding from hotels to anywhere connected customers will be seeking services such as "a resort marketplace that we go to on vacation, marinas, campgrounds ... where a vacationer wants to stay connected."
If Vector180 succeeds, it will be the cord that connects the service provider--cable, satellite or telco--with the property and, in the end, with the guest.
"We pitch this on a national basis to cable operators and property managers. We also have partners who are channel partners where their line of business might be phone systems and they pitch this along with their phones," Kelly said. "We're just starting to push into the cable space, trying to tell them, ‘we'll try to give you a little bit of control and put your content in front of them."