JIS News

Minister of Industry and Tourism, Aloun N’dombet Assamba, has called on local hoteliers to join the global trend of providing high-speed data services for guests, thereby increasing their revenue from the diversification of offerings.
“When people travel,” Minister Assamba said, “they do not want to be far from their loved ones, friends, and businesses. They want to send e-mails, surf the Internet and conduct business, even while on holiday, which today’s technology has made possible”.
Anthony Graham, Vice President of The Lewis Group (TLG), a Jamaican technology solutions provider, has endorsed the Minister’s call, noting that hotels worldwide were now providing high-speed Internet services, in keeping with the increased demand from guests.
“With leisure and business travel lines becoming blurred, the digital subscriber line (DSL) and cable modem deployments have set the expectation for high speed data services at speeds in excess of one megabyte per second, and delivered primarily by alternative carriers”, he told JIS News, pointing out that customers want e-mail access, while businessmen wanted Virtual Private Network (VPN) support, as well as carrier grade reliability.
Citing a North American survey, Mr. Graham said that by providing Internet access, hotels could increase their revenues by at least three per cent, with guests paying $5 to $10 per day for the service. In addition, he pointed out that providing high-speed Internet service could increase occupancy rates.
He noted further, that tapping into the hospitality industry offered a solid business opportunity for service carriers, with over 12 million tourists stopping-over in the Caribbean last year, staying an average of five to six days.
“The technology is here,” President of the Jamaica Hotel and Tourism Association, Godfrey Dyer said to JIS News, informing that some hotels were providing Internet service, while some were not. He agreed with Mr. Graham that deployment of high-speed Internet solutions for guests would greatly benefit the tourism industry.
“It benefits Jamaica because it adds a new and convenient service for guests. Therefore, it gives us an edge in our marketing and promotion,” he said, pointing out that guests had become more sophisticated, and now wanted to be able to receive their e-mails and keep in touch with their relatives and business, even while on holiday.
Mr. Dyer told JIS News that currently, some hotels were offering Internet service from a central location or business centre, and that those centres were operating as profit centres. He noted that his own hotel, the Wexford Court in Montego Bay, made the service available to guests in their rooms.
A number of other local hotels have already realized the benefit of providing the service, including the upscale Ritz Carlton Hotel in Montego Bay had been offering Internet service to guests for the past two years. A representative of the hotel’s business centre told JIS News that not only had the demand for the service increased, but it was also a key selling point for achieving higher occupancy rates.
She noted that two connections were being provided to guests – a wireless card for laptops only, at a cost of US$25 for 24 hours, and a cable connection to an Internet port on a laptop, at a cost of US$20 for 24 hours.
The 300-room Hilton Kingston hotel, which caters largely to business persons and functions, has been offering Internet service to guests since December last year at a cost of US$20 for 24 hours, while at the 45-room Terra Nova All-Suite Hotel in Kingston, Internet service is provided in all rooms by means of a personal computer card sold to guests for US$10 a night or US$40 a week.
Guest Services Agent at the 300-room Jamaica Pegasus in Kingston, Dexter Thompson, tells JIS News that the property had been providing Internet service to guests from the business centre and in the rooms, based on demand. He informs that a high-speed dial up service was introduced only recently.
“We have had the dial-up service in some of the rooms for about two years, but the high speed internet service from our business centre, for which we charge US$5 to US$18 an hour, is only a few months old, but is growing in demand,” he said.
The latest preliminary figures show that between January to August, stopover arrivals was up 6.8 per cent and cruise ship arrivals, a whopping 35 .1 per cent. The revenue generated by stopover and cruise ship passenger arrivals over the 8-month period was US$910 million, an increased of 9.4 per cent over the same period last year.

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