Most hoteliers are acutely aware that as a revenue earner in-room telephones are all but relics of a bygone era. The days when GMs gleefully set “mark-ups” with the telephone service provider at two to three times “cost” came to an end with the advent of cell phones. USA Today notes how “Cellphones mean fewer travelers use hotel phones” as “a growing number of business travelers are using their cellphones and other technology to avoid extra charges for Internet access and telephone calls”. Yet hotels cannot even remotely contemplate doing away with the instrument and, indeed, continue to feature them not only in the rooms but bathrooms as well.
Some hoteliers, in belated recognition of guest resistance to the gouging that used to take place in telephone charges, have started installing VOIP phones or Voice Over Internet Protocol. Basically, these “phones” do not use standard telephony for communicating and, instead, use data networks for communications through what is known as SIP or Session Initiation Protocol whereby computers can “talk” to each other. Replace the computer with a telephone like instrument (Teledex is a well known and well-configured manufacturer) and the customer does not know or care about the difference – except that the cost passed on to the consumer can be as close to zero as the hostelry wants. In countries that still have telephone monopolies – and there are still far too many – the benefits to hoteliers and customers can be tremendous.