Hotel Call Accounting Software - Needs & Benefits
Hotels have guests from all over the nation - vacationers, sports teams, entertainers, sight-seers, family visitors, and a large number of traveling business people. Some of these guests come from other countries, though most are from America. Many guests ask for - some demand - special services and amenities from the hotels, including long-distance telephone service, high-speed internet, television, game consoles, wake-up calls, in-room breakfasts, and others. Each of these services cost money and need to be checked on a regular basis.
Some services, such as phone and internet services, are also crucial for administrative functions, especially for reservation systems, property management systems and marketing work. With telephone services, hotels have found by experience several important things about telephone usage and the call accounting system that tracks and bills guests for phone calls:
1. Travelers often use cell phones, but their coverage has gaps and often does not provide good reception, so many use room phones;
2. Even a few international or information calls per room, over time, will cost much more than a call accounting system; and
3. Call accounting systems, such as the INN-FORM XL, go beyond call accounting to protect guests and reduce guest complaints (e.g., 911, wake-up calls, good rates);
Internal processes can also be helped by call accounting and bandwidth management systems that track telephone and internet costs for:
• Costing and offering VIP rates (for special guests, conferences, families or groups);
• Assuring that special phone or internet needs are met - and selling better phone/internet service when needed by guests;
• Costing and charging for all appropriate phone calls and internet use to assure that costs and overhead will be covered;
• Allocating costs to and budgeting for the various hotel departments - admin, engineering, service, sales, front-desk, parking, etc.;
• Auditing telephone and internet suppliers to assure that their rates are fair;
• Recovering phone costs (telephones, PBX, call accounting, long distance), plus a little more;
• Planning phone and internet resources for employee and guest usage during peak periods while still providing quality service;
• Planning phone and internet resources to determine trends to prepare for future needs and resources;
• Tracking calls and internet use for profiling and training employees.
Some hotels use estimates for establishing rates to charge guests, but hotels learned long ago that estimates will never be good enough to be fair to the guests and to charge appropriate rates to cover hotel phone costs. There are just too many variables, and a few international or information calls here and there can be very costly! Estimates will never be as good as approved rates! Good data for the use of every tool, every process, every minute, is required to keep up with the extremely complex communication world today, especially for "short-term customers" or guests! Using approximations provides inaccurate, non-approved rates and can negatively affect standard costs, especially with large numbers of calls and attendant costs.
Call accounting manufacturers, such as TEL electronics, inc., always use accurate, FCC-approved rates as the basis for calculating the costs and charges for phone calls. These rates have been used and accepted for decades by thousands of telecom dealers and tens of thousands of hotel call accounting users.
Different FCC-approved (or custom) rates are available, but FCC-approved rates are the best choice because they:
1. Prevent legal issues or auditing - the Feds and some states regulate phone costs and charges;
2. Provide actual costs for cost accounting and added costs/charges for cost-plus or other billing;
3. Provide accurate allocations by departments and/or cost centers, with or without amortized or added costs; and
4. Provide the latest, most up-to-date information on area codes, calling patterns, and prefixes (no money left on the table and no guest complaints).
There are many companies that offer call accounting products, but only a few with a long history of providing quality products and customer support specifically for the hospitality industry. When looking for a hotel call accounting system, make sure that the system has been tried and proven in the hotel world.