Traveling can be stressful – for business or leisure – and hoteliers do their best to make sure that the hotel in which you choose to stay during your time away from home provides the best worry-free conveniences available.  High-tech hotels are taking steps in the right direction by offering in-room automation, loyalty perks, mobile check-ins and more to enhance the guest experience.

But even luxury, high-tech hotels need upgrades sometimes.  To validate this point, we look back at Boston in March 2012 at an event referred to as the ‘Back Bay blackout.” Unfortunately, an electrical fire in Boston left thousands without power. I imagine the scene was a little chaotic without lights, phones and Internet. The Mandarin Oriental, Boston and its guests were also left without access to phones or Internet during this power outage.

Although power outages are uncommon, the Mandarin Oriental, Boston began searching for a solution to be prepared for any situation such as an unfortunate blackout. The Mandarin Oriental, Boston engaged with Cisco knowing we could offer the most advanced technology solutions; including solutions for power management, solutions to enhance the guest experience and solutions to improve IT efficiency.

 The challenge: Luxury hotels and legacy infrastructure

At Cisco, we realize most luxurious hotels need to enable more technology into guestrooms to enhance the guest experience, especially to meet the needs of tech-savvy travelers. In order to install more technology and IP-enabled devices into the guest rooms, we needed to provide a common platform to allow the devices to communicate with each other. This platform must also allow devices, like phones and alarm systems, to continue to operate in case of a fire or power outage. On top of all of this, we also needed to provide technology solutions that were easy to install, auto-configurable and remotely managed to limit the burden on the local hotel IT staff.

The Solution

There are three key Cisco solutions that made this hotel upgrade possible: Cisco Catalyst switches with UPOE, Smart Install, and Auto Smart Ports.

The Cisco Catalyst switches with UPOE support provide a unique solution because UPOE is the only current technology with the ability to do in-room switching while maintaining power over the switch port for up to 60 watts. Cisco UPOE also allows connectivity to Ethernet-powered devices, including Cisco IP phones and wireless access points without having to depend on external electric power supplies.

Cisco Auto Smart Ports dynamically identify any client devices in the guest room and assigns the right security policy and configuration to the switching port. Cisco Smart Install is a plug-and-play configuration for technology that provides zero-touch deployment, replacement and automatic configuration backup for new switches. This technology reduced installation time and prevented Mandarin Oriental, Boston from requiring specialized installation technician, which reduced the overall cost.

The Results: The power won’t be going out anytime soon

Three weeks after our installation, Boston had another power outage and the Mandarin Oriental, Boston was able to keep phone and Internet access available for their guests thanks to their recent Cisco upgrade. Guests at the Mandarin Oriental, Boston can now sleep soundly knowing that in the event of an emergency communication will always be available.

And I think David Heckaman, vice president of technology at Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group says it best.

“For us, this solution has become a property standard and a trusted solution that we can reproduce for all of our new hotels,” said Heckaman.

View the full Mandarin Oriental Cisco case study here and for more information about Cisco switching solutions, products and technologies, visit: http://www.cisco.com/go/switching.


William Gustafson

Vertical Solutions Architect

Cisco Systems