DUBAI, United Arab Emirates,: Al Murooj Rotana, an award-winning five star property located in Downtown Dubai, has implemented a state-of-the-art wireless network infrastructure from Aruba, a Hewlett Packard Enterprise company. The network has improved guest Wi-Fi satisfaction by 15% and serves as platform for innovation and introduction of new services.
Faced with intermittent issues such as signal drops and fluctuations, Renju Ramanadhan, Cluster Director of IT, Al Murooj Rotana and Al Bustan Rotana, Dubai, knew he had to overhaul his network to meet customers’ growing expectations. “With 900 to 1000 guests using the network on an average day, we began to see noticeable performance issues. Further, as guests increasingly utilized video and multimedia rich applications, both the speed and security of the network were brought into question. We expected and wanted a basic requirement in today’s world - a very reliable wireless infrastructure to provide stable connectivity for all our guests.”
With Aruba technology having been deployed by other hotels of the chain, the IT team at Al Murooj Rotana was well aware of the vendor’s capabilities and strengths. This was backed by the confidence that CADD Emirates, Aruba’s Platinum partner, had the expertise to plan and execute the deployment effortlessly.
The implementation was carried out in two phases starting with the apartment tower using one Aruba 7200 series mobility controller and 450 Access Points (APs). Impressed by the success of the deployment, the team then moved on the hotel a year and a half later.
For this, an additional controller along with 750 APs were installed. “Although we didn’t see a single instance of AP failure in the time we ran Aruba’s solution in the residential complex, we decided to invest in a second controller for redundancy. It was easy to do this as we only paid for the controller and didn’t have to purchase additional licenses,” said Ramanadhan.
The hotel selected the latest hospitality technologies, in the form of Aruba 802.11ac solutions. These were Aruba AP205H as well as the outdoor AP275 access points. Utilization of these APs, specifically designed for the hospitality sector, meant that the hotel could build a host of new guest services on its new wireless platform.
“Implementing a wireless network in an operational hotel was the biggest challenge during the project planning,” says Biju Abraham, Director Networking & Security solutions at CADD Emirates. “We deployed a team of highly experienced engineers and technicians who worked very closely with the IT, engineering & housekeeping teams to make this project run smoothly, while ensuring there is no inconvenience to the guests and users.”
Guest satisfaction, the deployment’s key criteria for success was met immediately after project completion. “Now that we have a very reliable wireless infrastructure, we have seen the guest’s complaints about Wi-Fi reduce significantly,” said Ramanadhan.
“Guest satisfaction is key for a hotel and we have seen guest satisfaction ratings, analyzed through the Rotana Guest Satisfaction Survey, grow by 15% with the new wireless system. This is crucial for us because issues with Wi-Fi were dragging down the entire hotel score,” he added.
The hotel now boasts 100% wireless coverage and Aruba’s ClientMatch technology ensures that guest devices are seamlessly transitioned between APs as they roam across the property. Wireless security, another key consideration for the hotel, has also been taken into account as Aruba’s solution has allowed the IT team to effortlessly segment its network. Guests use a virtual network separate from that of the staff, so security for the core network is not compromised by guest devices.
With the advanced wireless system foundation in place, the hotel is now building services on top. In addition to complimentary connectivity, the hotel can now offer a paid premium connection with guaranteed higher speeds.
The wireless system also serves as a platform for innovation and supports novel new services such as tablet check-ins that help shorten waiting times for guests, and iPad menus at the venue’s restaurants.
Al Murooj Rotana is also one of the few hotels running its IPTV through its APs. “We stream substantial data, voice and high resolution video through the access points, and yet the quality of service remains high,” Ramanadhan said.
Plans are underway to upgrade Al Murooj’s Guest Room Management System (GRMS) to utilize the wireless infrastructure. The hotel staff will also be provided with wireless handheld POS terminals in the near future.
As an evolution of this implementation, the hotel wants to deploy the Aruba AirWave monitoring system to analyze the network and aid it’s fine-tuning in the future. With business travelers accounting for 60% of guests, security of connections over Wi-Fi is also increasingly crucial as devices move to wireless. The hotel is therefore considering Aruba ClearPass network access control technology to further enhance security.
“The partnership with Aruba is an important aspect of our core goal of providing treasured experiences to our guests. In the world we live in today, it’s not only about providing wireless Internet connectivity to our guests,” said Ramanadhan.
“Connectivity and efficient technology are key and with Aruba we have found a technology provider that has met and exceeded our expectations and also provides us with a clear and exciting path for the future,” he says.
Graeme Kane, Hospitality Business Development Manager, Middl East & Turkey at Aruba says, “To remain competitive, hotels need to leverage a smarter, adaptive wireless network infrastructure that delivers stable, simple, smart, secure Wi-Fi access to thousands of devices at a time and supports mobile collaboration for staff. Al Murooj Rotana has done just that. We are proud to be associated with this prestigious hotel and hope to be a part of their technology roadmap in the years to come.”