Hoteliers have many things to consider when making decisions around technology and the upcoming HITEC conference will further drive home that point. In fact, while some providers may offer the latest cutting-edge technology, the decision to utilize their solution represents a far more comprehensive commitment.
One such company is VT Group, which offers fiber-based infrastructure solutions for hotels. According to Larry Birnbaum, VP, Commercial Solutions for VT Group, the company’s effectively changing what had long been vendor driven infrastructure requirements for hotels which typically require a number of disparate systems. He said of the GPON (Gigabyte Passive Optical Network) technology. “It’s a utility platform that’s part of the building which enables all of the hotel’s applications and communications,” he said.
Birnbaum touted the advantages of fiber, while pointing out that it’s more of an infrastructure decision as hoteliers plan for “the internet of things, IoT” which requires extensive planning on the front end of a project as opposed to simply choosing a type of technology.
“It’s very much a different way of thinking; it’s highly disruptive. It changes the design side, it changes the construction side and it changes the current vendor business models. The advantage to the hotel is a much faster, more reliable network which takes up much less physical space, has fewer operating demands and provides for future expansion,” he said.
As with any technology, cost is always a major consideration for owners or operators and how it will ultimately impact the bottom line. Birnbaum explained there are a number of items for consideration when sizing up the cost of fiber with more traditional solutions, such as copper, for example.
“What does this new technology cost versus old technology? The question has to consider, how much does a square foot of development space cost? Because PON significantly reduces the amount of required square footage,” he said.
VT Group, is a global systems integrator with a long history of providing network infrastructure and secure communications for the U.S. Department of Defense, as well as other U.S civilian agencies—got its start in hospitality a few years ago with the renovation of the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta.
Birnbaum emphasized the company has since made “a lot of progress” in carving its niche when it comes to fiber-based solutions. “I think we’ve been recognized by the industry as a leader in hospitality for design and deployment,” he said.
He also stressed the importance of continued education on the design and ownership side when it comes to the benefits of fiber. However, Birnbaum added that much progress has been made on that front as well. “Single mode fiber is now part of the design and construction standards for most every major brand and a year ago it was not,” he noted.
While Birnbaum acknowledged there are many organizations responsible for the momentum of fiber-based solutions within hospitality, he attributed at least a portion of it to VT Group.
“We think we’ve had a lot to do with adoption because we’ve been involved with successful projects. Each of the projects we’ve deployed have become a reference site; I think because we’ve led with a number of successful implementations people are more confident in designing GPON. We’ve got a rising tide of new projects underway in the development cycle that are being designed with single made fiber,” he said.
Some of those projects include an Omni Hotel in Frisco, TX, near the Dallas Cowboys training facility. In fact, Birnbaum noted that Omni is utilizing a fiber solution in nearly all of the company’s projects. Other ongoing hotel projects with installations include the Fairmont in Austin, as well as the Westin in Buffalo, to name a few.
As the projects have increased as has the need for additional key personnel. As an example, the company recently added Paul Chin, formerly of Fairmont Hotels as Vice President Product Strategy. Birnbaum noted “He’s helping us define what’s next” for VT Group as we continue to look into the future and provide the latest technologies to our customers.
He further commented, “We continue to add staff and we’ve been hiring across our entire business.”
Birnbaum acknowledged that not surprisingly more competitors are getting into the fiber space, but he outlined some of the points of differentiation for VT Group. “There are very few companies who do this well for hospitality. Hospitality has some unique environments, and the hotel operators themselves have limited technology staff,” he said, adding the company continues to support the hotel after the system is up and running.
Birnbaum added another point of differentiation. “The experience with multiple applications and multiple environments is something that no one else in the industry has,” he said.
He further detailed how VT Group’s 40 years of experience in a variety of segments, such as health care, transportation, state & local and Department of Defense, help enable the success of our hospitality projects.
“Because we have a broad base of customers we’re confident in hospitality and committed to hospitality. And we have the resources within the company to continue to support the hospitality market on a global scale,” concluded Birnbaum.