Success story: Westin Grand Vancouver
The Westin Grand Vancouver is a 210-room, four-star hotel reaching 33 stories above Vancouver, British Columbia. The hotel's downtown location puts guests in the centre of the shops, theatres, vibrant nightlife and dozens of world-class restaurants on famed Robson Street.
Despite the world-class location and service, Mark Abbott, the hotel’s IT Director, found the hotel’s Internet service increasingly falling short of guest expectations. The existing system suffered from slow speeds, spotty coverage, and a slow, non-branded login process that left guests with a poor initial experience.
Faced with large capital costs to expand or repair their existing system, Abbott reached out to Liveport, a hospitality WiFi service provider, to present a solution.
Liveport replaced Westin’s outdated system with Open Mesh 802.11n access points and Open Mesh’s cloud-hosted network controller, CloudTrax. Approximately 40 access points were wired in as gateways, with an additional 15 power-only repeaters used to fill in coverage gaps where cables weren’t available. The devices automatically self-organized to provide a seamless wireless network throughout all guest rooms, conference spaces and common areas. Liveport also installed an Open Mesh unit to manage wired traffic authentication and bandwidth throttling in guest rooms.
Without the need to run new cables or upgrade on-site servers and switches, Abbott said the switch saved the hotel about $65,000 in the first year.
Abbott immediately saw a massive increase in usage as coverage improved and network bottlenecks were eliminated. Support call volume was reduced by 75% and guest complaints were virtually eliminated.
“That makes it a great success,” said Abbott.
Abbott was first drawn to Liveport’s low all-inclusive pricing, but realized that the Open Mesh hardware and cloud controller offered him far more in terms of options and flexibility than the much higher-priced system and service provider he was replacing.
With the cloud controller, Abbott could now see what was happening with each individual access point and how much usage the entire network was getting any time he wanted from his laptop or smart phone.
He could also segregate user devices, providing each guest with a secure tunnel to the Internet.
"Support call volume was reduced by 75% and guest complaints were virtually eliminated."
With the cloud controller, Liveport enabled a branded splash page for guest authentication—which was much faster than the old system—and allowed staff to create and manage voucher codes. With the codes, the hotel could create custom group codes and set access to certain time periods, bandwidth tiers, and number of devices. The same code can be used on both the wired and wireless networks.
“Guests at this level of property expect a very high quality wireless network—especially when paying for access,” said Danny Bakker, Vice President of Liveport. “With Open Mesh, we can deliver on those expectations, and do it at a price point that really makes sense for a hotel of any size.”
“The quality of the network experience now matches that of the rest of their stay,” said Abbott, who plans to deploy Open Mesh systems with Liveport at his other properties.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them to anyone,” he said.
*Photos courtesy of Westin Grand Vancouver.