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Voice mail improves services: hotel guests like messages in callers' own voices.

VOICE MAIL IMPROVES SERVICES

Some hotels are finding voice messaging can turn a time-consuming chore into a pleasant, trouble-free, automated operation.

Guests can get complete, accurate messages in the caller's own voices, and hotels can provide a valued service without tying up or adding staff.

Embassy Suites in Minneapolis' Centre Village and a Radisson Inn in San Francisco both recently installed this technology (Centigram VoiceMemo), and both like the results.

At the Embassy, guests push two bottons to hear the messages. Instructions on the touchtone-telephone keypad direct them to press the key designated "hotel services" and then 5 to get to voice mail.

A voice confirms that the mailbox corresponds to the room number. A guest may hear, for instance, "This is mailbox 2100. You have three unplayed messages."

At the Radisson, when guests call for messages, they are first connected to the hotel operator. The display on the switchboard shows that room the call is from. The operator connects the guest to the appropriate mailbox.

"This is our way of assuring no one receives anyone else's messages,c says Sayed Hussein, front-office manager.

At both hotels, the system automaticaly plays the messages and tells when each was recorded.

Keep Or Discard

After listening to each message, a guest can press the "K" key to keep it or "D" to discard it.

When a guest is finished, the system says, "That was your last message. If you want to hear your messages again, press 'P' to play a message or 'X' to exit the system."

When hotel guests check out, the messages are discarded and he mailbox is ready for the next user.

The Radisson uses the system for internal communication as well. Each staffer has a mailbox, with a user-defined passcode to make sure others don't get their messages.

Staff exchange information and get timely answers to important questions without having to be on the line at the same time.

They don't waste time playing telephone tag or trying to decipher people's harrid scribblings.

No one interrupts important work to take phone calls.

Both hotels have discovered that voice mail holds down labor costs.

When the Embassy Suites, at the Minneapolis airport, opened in September 1986, occupancy for its 311 rooms was at 40% and desk clerks were receiving and writing down 75 to 100 messages a day.

Soon after opening, the hotel installed voice mail. In two months, occupancy jumped to 83% and the number of messages doubled.

Staffing Stays Level

"We would have had to hire at least one more person just to answer the phone if not for voice mail," says Assistant Manager Rick Craswell.

The Radisson gets 60,000 guests a year and 100,000 messages. Two desk clerks run the switchboard and attend to guests.

Without voice messaging, the hotel could not have grown from 124 to 224 rooms witout adding staff.

"I would definitely have had to get another desk clerk," Hussein says. "Now the clerks are doing what I hired them to do: checking people in and out and helping them during their stay. Guests like getting a message in the caller's own voice, and I get no more complaints about mixed-up messages."

"Guests find the system easy to use," agrees Susan Gibel, assistant manager at the Embassy. "They appreciate the fact that messages are always private and complete, not interpreted or summarized by a switchboard operator."

International travelers can now get messages from their homes or home offices in their native language.

Foreign-language prompts are also available to help non-English-speaking people giv e and retrieve messages.

It must be working. Nine out of 10 callers to the Embassy leave messages.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Nelson Publishing
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Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Communications News
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Words:609
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