With more than 4,000 hotels in 80 countries including 2,400 in North America, Best Western International is the world's largest hotel brand but faces growing competition from other hotel chains. And with most locations being locally owned, ensuring each property is in tune with the unique needs of their customers, Best Western faces continuous challenges in rolling out system-wide communications initiatives.
Fortunately, BestComm Networks, a leading value-added reseller specializing in providing both data and voice solutions for the hospitality sector and Best Western's sole endorsed vendor for voice and data solutions, is up to the task.
Best Western realized that many of their guests are business travelers who needed Internet access in order to work while on the road, and decided that they would need to provide high speed Internet access (HSIA) at their locations. Best Western turned to BestComm to design and install this network. The network had to provide a high level of service to the guests for a minimal price, and the installation itself needed to be affordable since the plan required approval by the individual owners and members of the chain. This was not a head office decision that could be forced on the member hotels.
Solutions and Benefits
BestComm looked into solutions from several providers, most notably Hewlett Packard (HP) and Proxim. In the end they settled on a solution consisting of a public gateway, a ZyXEL ES-2024A layer-2 managed switch, and a ZyXEL wireless Access Point. BestComm was familiar with ZyXEL's long history providing network equipment to major ISPs and TelCos, and felt confident in the reliability and feature set of the ZyXEL equipment. ZyXEL's solution was also highly affordable, a critical consideration to Best Western's members. Best Western rolled out this solution to 15% of their rooms as a trial at the end of 2004. The trial went well and ZyXEL equipment was once again chosen in 2006 when Best Western decided to push HSIA to 100% of its rooms.
In this and many other similar environments, ZyXEL equipment has proven itself able to easily handle the rigors of hotel Internet access in multiple locations. The hospitality environment is particularly challenging as access is provided to guests who use a huge variety of computer equipment to access the Internet and are often not very technical. The equipment needed to handle constant use, and be compatible with all networking equipment, not just a single list of approved devices.