Magazine Article | November 20, 2007

Hotel Chain Designs Paperless Environment

Source: Field Technologies Magazine

Rosen Hotels & Resorts eliminates 45 fax machines and improves customer service with a centralized document management solution.

Integrated Solutions, December 2007

CIOs and IT directors spend a lot of their time focused on streamlining existing technology and business systems. Maybe a legacy hardware platform needs to be updated or replaced, or perhaps a new acquisition requires integration between two disparate accounting applications. Occasionally though, these technology gurus get to build their ideal IT solutions from the ground up for a new facility or business. Such was the case for Jim Bina, president of Millennium Technology Group (MTG) and director of IT for Rosen Hotels & Resorts.

In 2005, the latter company operated six luxury hotels and a medical clinic that serves employees in the Orlando, FL area. Rosen was planning on opening its seventh hotel, the 1,498-room Rosen Shingle Creek, in the fall of 2006. MTG, which is a subsidiary of Rosen, was tasked with providing the telecommunication and IT infrastructure for the new hotel. "Our plan was to make this one of the most technologically advanced hotels of its size," Bina says. "A big part of that initiative involved creating a paperless environment."

At the other Rosen hotels, manual systems involving from hundreds to thousands of paper-based faxes were the norm for the reservations and banquet center departments. For instance, all reservation faxes would come to one fax machine at a central reservation desk. To confirm reservations, employees entered data into the reservation computer system, handwrote confirmations on the original requests, and faxed them back to clients. However, the employees often had to wait to fax back the confirmations because faxes couldn't be sent while others were being received. This process not only was susceptible to manual errors, it slowed customer service as well.

"We wanted to automate our paper processes and create a centralized document management system," Bina explains. "To do so, we worked with IKON Office Solutions [a document management VAR] to implement Captaris RightFax."

Captaris RightFax is a fax server, document delivery, and fax software. It enables employees to securely deliver business information from virtually any application via fax, e-mail, print devices, or over the Internet. At Shingle Creek, MTG integrated RightFax with the hotel's Microsoft Exchange, Cisco CallManager, Canon MFPs (multifunction peripherals), and eCopy. The latter is software that enables companies to use their office copiers or scanners to transform paper documents into information that is easily integrated into all business applications.

With this integration, documents are delivered and accessible within Microsoft Outlook, where the faxes are displayed in the inbox alongside voice mails and e-mails. For reservation confirmations, reservation employees display faxed requests on their screens, making it easier to enter information. Then, using eCopy, they record comments and confirmation numbers on the documents before faxing them back to clients. "And they do it all from their desktops without touching paper," Bina states. "This process also gives clients instant verifications regarding their confirmations — no more waiting for a fax machine to be free. In addition, this easy access to documents enables reservation employees to eliminate the several hours of fax-related paperwork that was required daily with the old fax system — leading to a better guest experience."

Shingle Creek was only the beginning of MTG's plan to create a paperless, centralized document management environment across all of Rosen's facilities, which also include a medical clinic and an insurance company. There were 45 fax machines in use across all of these locations, and now more than 870 employees use RightFax for desktop faxing. Employees also can use RightFax to receive instant notifications (e.g. via a BlackBerry) when important documents or messages have been received. Communicating via RightFax also enhances information security. For instance, Rosen's medical clinic's HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) compliance records are now secure versus lying around on fax machines. Rosen also uses Microsoft SharePoint Server 2003 for sharing documents amongst departments, and the RightFax integration with Cisco CallManager allows all message types (e.g. e-mail, voice mail, etc.) to be remotely accessed. "With the RightFax solution, we've not only reduced our amount of consumables [e.g. paper, toner, etc.], we've increased the accuracy and speed of document retrieval while creating a reliable audit trail for referencing deliveries and receipts," Bina concludes.