Magnet serves up quality broadband

19 Sep 2006

Service is what attracted Anthony Murray to Magnet. He’s had a working relationship with the telecoms company for the past six years, back when it was known as Leap. When he took on his role as group IT manager for Quality Hotels and Comfort Inns (part of the Choice Group, covering Clarion Hotels, Quality Hotels and Comfort Inns), he made sure to set up the group’s communications infrastructure using Magnet.

The attention to customer care, exemplified by service level agreements no other competitor could match, was a big draw for Murray. The low contention ratio and speed of service sealed the deal.

Murray uses two main packages from Magnet: a wireless solution for the head office and a dedicated SDSL connection for the main Quality Hotel in Dublin.

“I’ve a wireless solution which I’m applying in our head office in Sandyford, Dublin which is running by mail server. I also have an SDSL connection from Magnet in the Quality Hotel on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, Dublin,” he explains.

“We had Eircom connections in a lot of the hotels and the reasons we changed was there was better service level agreements with Magnet and there was also synchronous connection, which was important to us, especially in the office end of things.”

Murray explains the system that is set up in the Sandyford office. “It’s running on a mail server which has about 275 users. It’s running that without a problem. Previous to that we would have had mail servers in a number of hotels.

“We made the decision to move the mail server from our head office in Cork to the one in Dublin. There was better potential for connections up here. It’s a 2MB connection up and down so it was very high-performance and I knew we’d get the service level agreement we need. I couldn’t really afford to have that many hotels without mail on an ongoing basis.”

The service for the hotel serves both staff and guests, he explains.

“In the Quality Hotel on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay it’s an SDSL connection we have. It’s running both mail coming into the building and the web surfing in the hotel from the administration side of things. We’ve then split the connection and firewalled it so our guests are using it at wireless access points in public areas and via fixed line in the bedrooms.”

The benefit of using Magnet is it can provide a service that is high enough to manage both staff and guest use off of one connection instead of having multiple connections and multiple firewalls, says Murray.

“It cuts down on administration and wondering if one half of the hotel has a problem is it related to the other side. It’s a more focused approached.”

The internet is an essential tool for the hotel industry. The amount of rooms that are booked online has risen sharply. Trade is reliant on a fast and reliable service provider to ensure the smooth flow of customer traffic, which was another factor in Murray’s decision to go with Magnet.

“A lot of our bookings come in through email and various websites that sell hotel rooms. A lot of beds would be sold on an allocation basis. A guest would automatically get a response if a room was sold through a third party, for example or If the internet is down you’d have guests coming to the front desk saying: ‘I have a reservation with you, I booked it though X, Y or Z, here’s my confirmation,’ and maybe nobody at the hotel knows anything about it.”

This way of making reservations is only going to grow in future, he predicts.

Businesspeople are also making higher demands of hotels in terms of internet availability.

“From a business point of view, if you have a hotel with meeting rooms businesspeople expect to get good-quality internet access in the meeting rooms and in the lobbies. That’s a big part of our business so it needs to be secure and stable.”

“Because staff and guests use it, Quality Hotels need to always have capacity available. That was the key driver for Anthony,” says Louise McKeown, head of business sales at Magnet Business. “We gave him a 99.7pc service level agreement. That effectively means we’re saying it’s never going to go down and if it does go down in the course of a year it will only be for a matter of hours in total over that time.

“The way this service is set up there is resilient backup in each of his hotels because he has another connection going in which is a different route out of the building so it should never be down.”

Quick turnaround was particularly important in making the business case. Quality Hotels needed a few extra things added in, such as more IP addresses than Magnet would normally allocate, but this was provided without hassle.

Speed of installation was also impressive, recalls Murray. For the wireless service in Sandyford, he rang Magnet the morning they moved into the new premises and that afternoon technicians were out. “It was set up in 24 hours. That’s something special.”

“We normally do a site survey and then schedule an install; in some cases when clients need a quick turnaround we do site survey and install on the same day,” says McKeown.

“With Magnet you get actual real answers to the problem and real timeframes for resolution, which is important,” concludes Murray.

By Niall Byrne

Pictured: Anthony Murray of Quality Hotels with Louise McKeown of Magnet Business