VoIP vs SIP: Which Communication Solution is Right for Your Business?
The Best VoIP Providers for Hotels of 2018
More than any other, the hospitality industry needs to have open, clear lines of communication. Because it’s not just staff that’s using the phone—it’s customers. And if customers want to make a call and don’t get a clear connection, can’t dial long-distance, or suffer any other limitations, their opinions of the hotel will become lower.
In other words, high-quality phone service is not just a necessity for hotel staff who need to communicate with each other, but it’s also a necessity for a hotel that wants to drum up good reviews, and subsequently, good business.
While traditional phone lines have been the communication method of choice for many years, today, more and more hotels are switching over to VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol systems) which uses the internet to make phone calls, as opposed to traditional phone lines.
Take a look at the 5 best VoIP systems for hotels, and check out the features they come with. You’ll see right away how they are a cut above traditional phone systems.
Why aren’t traditional phone systems sufficient to meet the needs of hotels anymore? There are many reasons VoIP is superior, including:
- It can cut costs: Unlike traditional phone systems, when you buy a VoIP you don’t need to pay a large, up-front fee for installation and setup; moreover, VoIPs for business usually come with dozens of features that traditional phone companies charge extra for.
- It’s easily scalable, which means that as your business grows, your system grows along with it. Traditional phone systems need to be manually upgraded by customers or require a visit from a technician.
- It can lead to increased employe productivity: VoIP allows employees to make calls from home or a mobile device, which means that they have the opportunity to work from home or while on the go. Working from home has been shown to increase productivity (under the right conditions), which means that employees can contribute more to the business.
- It comes with many more features than traditional phone systems, like auto-attendant, call forwarding, SMS, video conferencing, toll-free numbers, vanity extensions, long-distance calling, analytics, and more. If phone systems do offer additional features, you probably have to pay extra for them, whereas VoIP systems include these features in the base package.
How Does VoIP Help Hotels Deliver Exceptional Service to Their Clients?
VoIP systems operate on 2 fronts: First, they allow employees to communicate with each other easily and take care of all the behind-the-scenes management. Second, they allow customers to contact hotel staff, ask questions, make reservations, and also make phone calls from their rooms.
The successful operation of these 2 fronts is essential to the advancement of any hotel. If employees can’t communicate easily with each other, clients will suffer. The cleaners won’t come, they’ll run out of toilet paper, the kitchen won’t be stocked with the right foods, etc. And if visitors can’t communicate properly with hotel staff, the whole business will implode — because no one wants to visit a hotel in which they can’t communicate with the staff.
Fortunately, VoIP systems help hotels deliver to their clients on both fronts. These systems offer free internal communication between employees, in one hotel or in different hotel branches; so they can make sure that everything is running properly behind the scenes. And when everything runs smoothly behind the scenes, customers will enjoy convenient and comfortable communication in public.
Here are 5 of the best VoIP systems for hotels, including plans that are most appropriate for the hospitality industry.
Vonage Business offers a powerful cloud-based VoIP that comes with backup tools for business continuity, collaboration tools for employees, mobile capabilities, and more. Additionally, Vonage Business creates an enjoyable, convenient experience for hotel customers through features like call routing, virtual receptionist, real time notifications, two-way messaging, and more.
There are 2 main solutions for hotels: Vonage Business Cloud and Enterprise, and you can choose the one that suits your needs best.
Features of Vonage Business solutions include:
- Mobile and desktop apps with unlimited messaging and SMS
- International calling options
- Virtual receptionist, voicemail to email, Admin Portal
- Salesforce and customer relationship management (CRM) integration
- High quality service for voice, video, and data communications
- Call blocking, call recording
- Amazon Chime Pro tier, which includes chat, screen share, video, and web conferencing
- 24/7 support
RingCentral offers 4 plans, but its Premium or Enterprise are best-suited for hotels. These plans come with a long list of features, including basic and more sophisticated.
One thing to note is that RingCentral charges by user; the more users you have, the less expensive the price-per-user, but the cost can still come out higher than some of its competitors.
Given all of its features, RingCentral is a good option for hotel staff to communicate with each other, but could become pricey if you put it in every hotel room.
Features of RingCentral include:
- Integrates with Salesforce, Zendesk, and Desk.com
- Full call management, log reports, multi-level auto-attendants
- Mobile apps for iOS and Android
- Unlimited calling, unlimited conference calling, unlimited business SMS
- Video conferencing with screen sharing
- Toll-free minutes
- Custom app development/deployment
- Caller ID, HD voice, automatic call recording
- Mobile and fax integration
- Virtual receptionist, hold music, message alerts
- Directories, call trees, call queues, call logs
- 24/7 support
8x8 is a cloud-hosted PBX service that’s known for its high-quality video conferencing and instant messaging, making it a great option for hotel staff and customers who travel for business.
The company offers 3 enterprise solutions which are fully scalable, which means that whether you have 10 employees or 10,000, the system can work for you. Each enterprise solution comes with unlimited calling, but the number of countries included in the call zone differ with each solution. Hotels may want to opt for the most comprehensive plan, which can give both staff and customers the option to call as many countries as possible.
Prices start at $25/per month, per user, and key features include:
- Web conferencing & instant messaging
- Seamless integration with 3rd-party apps
- Media storage
- Unlimited calling and unlimited internet fax
- Voicemail, HD Voice, Secure Voice, Single sign on, call recording
- Operator switchboard
- Salesforce, Zendesk, and Netsuite CRM Integration
- Comprehensive analytics
- Accessible from office phones, desktop PCs, and mobile devices
- Inbound and outbound contact centers
- Affordable and flexible pricing
As opposed to the other top VoIPs, Grasshopper is an inbound calling system (as opposed to inbound/outbound), and it’s designed to help small hotels/resorts appear more professional or more fully-staffed than they actually are. This means that your hotel staff can consist of 5 people, but Grasshopper gives callers the feeling that there’s a huge staff.
Because Grasshopper is geared toward small businesses/hotels, its prices are fairly competitive. However, because it only offers inbound calling services, Grasshopper is not a good option for hotel owners who are looking for a VoIP system to be used in the rooms of visitors.
Key features of Grasshopper’s Small Business Plan include:
- 24/7 support
- Unlimited minutes, unlimited extensions
- Voicemail, voicemail transcripts, custom greetings, auto-receptionist
- Inbound fax
- Works with phone lines, not broadband, which offers better call quality and no dependence on WiFi
- No new hardware necessary
- Toll-free or customized vanity numbers
- International call forwarding
- A mobile app that allows you to change your outbound mobile number to your hotel number, so you can call customers from your mobile and still appear professional.
Jive offers different plans that are suitable for any sized hotel. Its enterprise-grade hosted communications is ideal for mid-market to enterprise hotels; the system operates on the cloud, has an an SLA of 99.999% uptime, and provides customers with redundancy, call failover, scalability, and high availability. Jive also comes with 80+ features and gives business owners access to its API if they want to build their own custom integrations.
There are 5 tiers of Jive plans, but if you operate a large hotel, you’ll want to choose Tier 5, which is designed for 50-99 users and starts at $19.95/month.
Key features of Jive Tier 5 include:
- Easy set-up and onboarding
- Toll-free and local numbers
- Unlimited auto-attendants, voicemail boxes, local & long distance calling
- Visual dial plan editor to set up your phone system
- Conference bridge that allows conference call hosting with up to 10 people
- Call monitoring, call queues, recording, routing, and reporting
- Custom greetings, messages, hold music
- Fax and voicemail-to-email options
Costs of VoIP vs. Traditional Phone Systems
VoIP costs less than traditional phone systems, but the actual cost you pay will depend on the plan you choose and the number of users you have. Some plans charge a flat fee per user, while others charge a flat fee per group of users. If you have a lot of users, you’re better off with a plan like Grasshopper or Jive; but if you have a small hotel with a minimal number of staff, per-user plans like Vonage, RingCentral, or 8x8 might suit you better.
Let’s take a look at the basic pricing of the top 5 VoIP systems:
- Vonage Business starts at $19.99/user, per month
- RingCentral Premium starts at $34.99/user and Enterprise is $44.99/user
- 8x8 starts at $25/user, per month
- Grasshopper’s small business plans (which offer only inbound calling services) start at $89/month
- Jive’s Tier 5 plan (50-99 users) starts at $19.99/ month
Remember, these are only starting points; you’ll need to speak with a sales rep from each company to get a more accurate quote of your total monthly cost.
When it comes to traditional phone systems, you need to pay extra for everything: long-distance, international, toll-free numbers, call forwarding, auto-receptionist, even setup and installation. In New York state, you’re looking at over $550/month for 5 lines.
Moreover, traditional phone systems don’t come with analytics like many VoIPs do, which means that you’re essentially paying more money, and getting less service.
How to Choose the Right VoIP For Your Hotel
It’s not easy choosing the right VoIP for your hotel. There are so many factors to take into account, and all of the technical lingo may make the task seem overwhelming. There are 3 main things to keep in mind when making your decision:
- What are the needs of my hotel?
- What’s my budget?
- Is the plan easily scalable?
Once you determine the answer to these 3 questions, you can then read reviews, request quotes from companies, and see which VoIP fits your parameters.
Scalability should be an important part of your decision, because even if you’re just launching your hotel business now, you have no idea how much it may grow. And if you choose a system that doesn’t scale easily, you may have to do new research all over again in a few years. On the other hand, if you choose a VoIP system that’s easily scalable, you will have a product that can grow smoothly and at the same rate as your business.