ADVICE: How to choose the right guestroom phone

The importance of the humble telephone to your guestroom is often overlooked. Orbiss director KAREN MCGOWAN explains why the hotel connectivity specialist has launched a new online phone store, and lends some tips on choosing the right phone for your room. 

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We’ve all seen it: an otherwise beautiful hotel suite, spoiled by a horrible, plasticky phone that doesn’t match the look, feel or colour scheme of the room.

The truth is, many hotel owners simply aren’t aware of the sheer variety of guestroom handsets available to them. There didn’t seem to be a single place where you could browse and compare all sorts of hotel-specific phones – so we built one.

The main choices hoteliers face when it comes to handsets?

Design is important; a handset really needs to complement a room. Whether you want classic designer looks, something ultra-modern or a solid, all-round workhorse, the look and feel of the handset should contribute to the impression you’re trying to create – not clash with it.

When you know what style you’d like, then it’s time to think of additional features your guests might need, such as two-line phones for suites, or SIP phones with a USB port for charging guests’ devices.

Do you see a big difference between independent hotels and the big chains?

Once, the big chains tended to rely on tried-and-tested, heavy-duty phones such as the familiar Teledex Opal, with boutique hotels more likely to opt for an iconic designer handset like the Jacob Jensen T3.

Increasingly, though, hotels right across the board are becoming more aware of the power of a phone to refresh a room, and are refusing to compromise on design.

What new trends do you see in the market?

Right now, phone selection seems to be all about making a statement. For example, we’re asked for designs with extreme, ultra-modern styling, at the same time as phones combining a retro, GPO-style dial with modern technology.

More important than looks, however, is the way mobile devices have changed the role of the guestroom phone. It’s less about making money from calls these days, and more about clever use of custom faceplates and speed-dial buttons to make it as easy as possible for guests to book food, drink, and leisure facilities in-house.

Smart hotels help guests to realise there’s no point searching around for the number of a local restaurant when the hotel’s maître d’ is just a single button push away.

Do you have any tips for hoteliers on a budget?

If you’re looking to refresh a room, a better handset is a simple way to achieve it, and it could cost less than you think — there are some very good phones available for as little as £15.

Or, for a little more, and you can get something like the VTech A2210 — a stylish, hotel-specific all-rounder with heaps of features, a choice of colourways, a five-year warranty, and custom faceplates to give your guests a temptingly easy way to book your facilities. It’s a rising star that you’ll see in many hotels soon.

What’s next?

Apart from the new web shop, and giving hoteliers a chance to try some of the latest handsets for themselves at the Independent Hotel Show, the big news for us is Social WiFi. Essentially, it’s cost-effective, simple to use and turns your WiFi connection from an IT facility into a powerful marketing tool. But that’s another story…

If you’re attending the Independent Hotel Show, you’ll find Orbiss showing off the leading hotel handsets on stand 67. Alternatively, you can browse the latest designs here.

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