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The Caterer

Five technology ideas for hospitality

26 January 2006
Five technology ideas for hospitality

Wakey shakey

Deafgard 100x100
Deafgard 100x100

Leading fire safety specialist Chubb Fire has developed Deafgard - a wire-free technology that enables hoteliers to alert the deaf and hard of hearing in the event of a fire at night.

Deafgard is a bedside unit with sensors that can pick up the sound of any alarm. Should the alarm be activated, a connected pad placed under the pillow will vibrate to wake the sleeper. At the same time, a strobe light on the unit will flash and an LCD will show the word: "Fire."

The device can be handed on arrival to all guests who are deaf or hard of hearing, and has been tested against BS5446, the standard for devices for the deaf in domestic dwellings. Deafgard can be used with any fire alarm designed to BS5839.

Price: £199
Available from: Chubb Fire www.chubb.co.uk

Become a free hotspot

laptop-in-cafe 100x100
laptop-in-cafe 100x100

More and more properties are providing Wi-Fi hotspots through which their customers and guests can access the internet, but there's still a debate around whether there should be a charge for this service or whether it should be free.

Recent research from Edge Consult has found that, on average, profits derived from having free hotspots were five times higher than those arising out of paid services, because of increased coffee and food sales.

Bearing this in mind, you might want to look into the business model of Dublin-based Free-Hotspot.com, a new Wi-Fi provider that offers to give you the hardware and maintain your hotspot free of charge. All you have to do is pay for the installation. In return, the company, which is working with the Café Salade and Peach pub chains in London, will use your network to run advertising, as guests surf between web pages.

Price: Installation, from £100 to £300
Available from: Free-Hotspot.com
Tel: 00 353 1 480 6261
www.free-hotspot.com

Text a reminder Mobile marketing solutions company Incentivated has come up with a system that should help you to control room and restaurant bookings and reduce the number of no-shows and last-minute cancelled table reservations.

The appointment reminder system allows hoteliers and restaurants to remind customers and guests by text message of reservations or events at a specified time.

Originally developed for doctors and dentists, the system is now being used in a number of UK restaurants. It combines SMS text technology with PC-based booking and calendar systems to automate the sending of multiple text messages.

It offers a range of standard message templates and can also be used to notify customers about menu changes, seasonal offers and special promotions.

Price: £595 per annum
Available from: Incentivated
Tel: 0845 130 3985
www.incentivated.com

Finger-scanning good

pay-by-touch 100x100
pay-by-touch 100x100

Pay By Touch uses biometric scanning technology to enable customers to use their fingers to pay for purchases.

The system works by taking finger images and linking them to credit cards and bank accounts. Payment is made by placing the finger on a scanner at the point of sale, which means people don't have to carry any cash or cards and don't have to remember a PIN. The system has been available in the USA for more than three years at retailers such as Albertson's, Piggly Wiggly, Cub Foods, Farm Fresh, Thriftway and Pick ‘n Save.

Pay by Touch says that the system allows customers to make payments more quickly, while hotels and restaurants will benefit from reduced fraud and chargeback rates because a finger scan is a more secure authenticator than other forms of payment.

Price: £120 for the finger-scan sensor
Available from: Pay By Touch
Tel: 0870 099 3476
www.paybytouch.com

Check it out Slick check-in booths have been installed at City Inn Westminster to allow business travellers and those with time constraints to check themselves in and out, quickly and easily, minimising the time spent on administration.

In the booths, run alongside a manned reception desk, guests simply type in their reservation number or credit card number, and a key is then issued by the machine. When the guest leaves, the key is reinserted and the customer is able to make a payment then and there or request an invoice by post.

The machine is quick and simple to use, with customers taking on average less than two minutes.

The booths are said to have been hugely successful in the USA and on the Continent, and City Inn hopes to emulate that success in the UK.

Price: City Inn has so far spent £50,000 on installation and training
Available from: Ariane System
Tel: 00 33 1 4810 7610
www.ariane-systems.com

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