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Rotana Hotels, a large hotel management group headquartered in United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital Abu Dhabi, recently improved guests’ experience with the roll-out of new services at its Al Murooj Rotana property, where it implemented an updated wireless network infrastructure from Aruba Networks.
Prior to the implementation, the Dubai-based, five-star hotel regularly suffered wireless network issues such as signal drops and fluctuations. The problem was growing worse because of the increasing number of guests, as well as their increasing bandwidth requirements.
The hotel’s management also began to worry about the security of the wireless network.
“With 900 to 1,000 guests using the network on an average day, we began to see noticeable performance issues,” said Renju Ramanadhan, cluster director of IT for the Al Murooj Rotana and Al Bustan Rotana hotels in Dubai.
“Further, as guests increasingly utilised video and multimedia rich applications, both the speed and security of the network were brought into question.”
To solve the issues, Ramanadhan attempted to simply upgrade the firmware of the hotel’s existing wireless controllers, in conjunction with increasing the number of access points.
However, with guest requirements becoming more demanding, these actions turned out to be stop-gap measures – the underlying infrastructure simply couldn’t keep up with the property’s Wi-Fi requirements, meaning the whole system needed an overhaul.
“We expected and wanted a basic requirement in today’s world – a very reliable wireless infrastructure to provide stable connectivity for all our guests,” said Ramanadhan.
Other Rotana hotels had successfully implemented wireless systems from Aruba, meaning the Hewlett-Packard Enterprise company, along with a Rotana-trusted implementation partner, CADD Emirates, was the firm favourite to provide the network.
The implementation started with the hotel’s apartment tower, where Al Murooj Rotana deployed one Aruba 7200 series mobility controller and 450 access points. The team moved onto the rest of the hotel around 18 months later.
Here, the hotel installed an additional controller along with 750 access points. According to Ramanadhan, the second controller was simply installed for redundancy purposes.
“Although we didn’t see a single instance of AP failure in the time we ran Aruba’s system in the residential complex, we decided to invest in a second controller for redundancy. It was easy to do this as we only paid for the controller and didn’t have to purchase additional licenses,” said Ramanadhan.
In terms of the access points, Al Murooj Rotana opted for Aruba’s 802.11ac systems, the indoor AP205H units and the the outdoor AP275 access points.
The roll-out of these hardware products, in conjunction with Aruba’s ClientMatch technology, which allows connected devices to transition between access points seamlessly, provided 100% wireless connectivity around the hotel – even in the lifts.
As for solving the security issues, the Aruba system allowed Al Murooj Rotana to segment its network. Guests now use a virtual network separate from that of the staff, so security to the core network is not compromised by guest devices. This means the hotel can accommodate business users’ security requirements.
The wireless network has also allowed Al Murooj Rotana to explore other services that weren’t possible on the old one. For example, the property can now offer guests a paid premium connection that provides guaranteed higher speeds.
Al Murooj Rotana is now one of the few hotels in the region running its IPTV through its access points.
“We stream substantial data, voice and high-resolution video through the access points, and yet the quality of service remains high,” said Ramanadhan.
Finally, guest satisfaction – the key criteria for the success of the implementation – saw good results immediately after the project was completed.
“Now that we have a reliable wireless infrastructure, we have seen the guest’s complaints about Wi-Fi reduce significantly,” said Ramanadhan.
“Guest satisfaction is key for a hotel and we have seen guest satisfaction ratings, analysed through the Rotana guest satisfaction survey, grow by 15% with the new wireless system. This is crucial for us because issues with Wi-Fi were dragging down the entire hotel score.”
To extract more value out of its wireless network, Ramanadhan has put plans in place to roll out services that can rely on the network.
A project to upgrade Al Murooj Rotana’s guest room management system is already underway. The hotel staff will also be provided with wireless handheld point of sale terminals in the near future.
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