Q&A with Industry Veteran Speleos Dravillas: Nomadix’s New Price-Bundled Cloud Telephony Solution

Nomadix has launched the Hospitality industry’s first-ever price-bundled cloud telephony service offering  PBX features with the deployment simplicity and price point hotels need. Running on Nomadix’s existing suite of internet gateways, the cloud-based, single-source telephony coupled with dynamic bandwidth management service will disrupt the industry, making full-featured, integrated cloud telephony frictionless and affordable to hotel properties across the US and around the world.

To learn more about why and how Nomadix is offering the service, we sat down with Nomadix’s Chief Revenue Officer Speleos “Spe” Dravillas. A true industry veteran, Spe has spent 23 years working in unified communications (UC) and eight years in the hospitality UC space, leading the digital transformation in hospitality technology. Here, he shares why cloud telephony is more important than ever for hotels:

What’s the impetus behind Nomadix launching this new cloud telephony solution?

Cloud-based or VoIP telephony has become a staple in the enterprise business environment, but in the hospitality industry, deploying cloud technology that has the same PBX-style feature set can be extremely difficult and expensive. Several vendors have tried to overcome the integration and cost challenges but haven’t been terribly successful.

Nomadix already has a strong presence in the market with our well-established and reliable internet gateways that, from day one, provide secure authentication of Wi-Fi users along with dynamic bandwidth allocation that allows Wi-Fi users to receive their intended bandwidth. This month, we have just announced that we are adding both cloud telephony and other updates, including firewall functionality, to our existing internet gateways.

Nomadix internet gateways are used in over 15,000 properties around the world through our Global Partner network to manage bandwidth Quality of Service (QOS) on the property’s Local Area Network (LAN), and we have approved integrations with over thirty-five different Property Management Systems (PMS). These are the three crucial areas for hospitality cloud telephony, so, it only made sense that we would expand to offer VoIP telephony utilizing our existing infrastructure.

Why is VoIP the way to go instead of traditional legacy systems?

Legacy PBX systems for hotels were once a revenue center for hospitality and now are a cost-containment liability for hotels. With the proliferation of cellular phones, guests no longer use the hotel phone except to make internal calls to the front desk or other hotel services. That means they’re no longer generating revenue for the hotel through charges for local or long-distance external calls. 

Complicating the problem, legacy PBX systems can typically only be kept up to date for about a decade after purchase before they have to be replaced. On the other hand, cloud-based VoIP solutions are continuously updated and don’t require the same routine hardware or system upgrades. Many of the existing PBX systems in place right now were purchased during the revenue center era over 20 years ago or when the hotel first opened, so they’re coming to the end of their useful life. Property managers are now having to make a decision: replace it with another on-premise system at significant cost and upkeep, or invest in cloud-based technology with a much lower total cost of ownership?

In addition, both the FCC and individual states now require hotels to update their phone systems for compliance with new Enhanced 911 (E911) features as mandated by the FCC’s Kari’s Law and Karl Baum Act. That means hotels with an “on-premise” PBX more than three years old are most likely not compliant and are waiting for an opportunity in future budget years to switch to a newer, compliant solution. VoIP telephony has been the answer for enterprise businesses in meeting similar E911 requirements 20 years ago without buying yet another enterprise phone system to accommodate new government regulations. It makes sense that this solution could also work for hotels, if the price is right.

Why is hotel telephony so complicated?

While guests might rely on their cellphones most of the time, property managers still depend on in-room connections to manage and track guest services. For example, you wouldn’t use your mobile phone to call the front desk and request extra pillows. 

But providing that in-room service is also technically complex. Every room is a separate extension, and unlike an office environment, the ownership of that extension in a hotel might change daily. When a guest checks out, all data—call logs, voicemails, etc.—must be deleted. That means the phone system must integrate into the Property Management System to automate that process. But there are about 35 different PMS providers, each with their own integration parameters. So not only is delivering the VoIP service itself hard, integrating it with PMS is also difficult. 

That also means, like most technologies, greater complexity tends to drive up costs. Except, property managers have to do everything they can to keep costs low, and most are only willing to pay about one-fourth of the cost per line that a company would pay for PBX cloud-based telephony. Plus, they can’t afford to replace all of their existing phone hardware in every room. That makes it tough for most telephony providers to deliver the service and price point to make VoIP service with PBX features viable in a hospitality environment. 

What does Nomadix’s product deliver that no one else can?

It offers three distinct benefits: price, ease of deployment and global accessibility. While most telephony providers charge per-line on a tiered system based on the number of extensions, this is too expensive for hospitality. Nomadix’s product is a bundled service, so property managers pay one flat fee for the total number of lines, bundled with the existing Wi-Fi service we provide. That makes it much more affordable than conventional per-line pricing. 

Second, it’s very easy to deploy. If you already have our gateways installed, it’s very little effort to add the cloud telephony, and because our Wi-Fi already integrates with PMS platforms, that hard part is already done. You can even use the existing analog handsets, so there’s no need to change out all the in-room devices. And if you don’t already have our gateways installed? Well, this cloud telephony product is your sign it’s time to do something about that!

Finally, our service is accessible across the country, and coming soon, in Europe and Asia-Pacific. Because it’s VoIP, it’s more easily compatible with local regulations, which makes it perfect for multinational organizations.

As an added bonus, it gives property managers the ease and convenience of a single-source manufacturer for their guest Wi-Fi and telephony. Hotels working with Nomadix’s Partner Community  can manage everything through a single portal and with unified billing.

Why is this so revolutionary?

Hoteliers face a lot of pressure to get it right with guests, and they may only have one opportunity. Now more than ever, reliable connectivity is as essential as hot water to overnight guests. But besides delivering an exceptional guest experience, they also have to keep prices affordable, especially as the economy feels a bit unstable right now. That includes reducing their overhead costs as much as possible by simplifying administrative burden.

What Nomadix is offering is a way to do just that: to deliver the exceptional experience guests expect in a scalable, yet simple, solution at a price point that makes it affordable. No one has been able to deliver that combination until now.

What’s involved in implementing Nomadix’s Cloud Telephony service?

It’s very simple. If you already have our gateways in place, your Nomadix Authorized MSP or LSP can simply add your phones to your LAN, program them and port your local telephone numbers over from your existing carrier. Your local service provider will also work with any new cabling requirements you desire and which universal VoIP phones you would like to utilize.

How can property managers get the new cloud-based PBX service?

Simply contact your existing Nomadix Authorized Partner or contact Nomadix for local authorized partner recommendation. As with all our products, we don’t sell directly and instead work with a network of trusted global partners to distribute our products. But we’re of course here to help with any technical needs or unique deployments that might require extra support.