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RealTime IT News

Hotel Goes to Bar for Internet Solution

The Inter-Continental Houston Hotel has turned to mini-bars for its Internet solution, becoming the first hotel in the world to implement Bartech Systems International's "Intelligent Room" technology which, using Bartech's e-fridge mini- bars as its "spine and brain," allows the hotel management to automatically control all electronic, temperature, and Internet functions within each room.

The Annapolis, Md.-based Bartech's system uses an Ethernet connection as the main portal for all temperature and electrical controls, and a CAT 5 communication cable for digital movies and individual guests' high-speed Internet connections. Bartech's partnership with Inncom International Inc. provides the thermostat component of the "Intelligent Room."

All guest room technology is managed through a CAT 5 fiber optic cable connected "on-line" to the hotel's local area network (LAN) and property management system (PMS), which allows hoteliers to program temperature and electricity at cost-saving levels when no one is occupying the room. When a hotel guest is checked in, a signal is sent to the PMS to adjust temperature and lighting automatically to provide a welcoming atmosphere for the guest. Hotel guests can always override the system to accommodate their specific needs. Additional capabilities include safe and door lock networking.

"We are thrilled to have Bartech's 'Intelligent Room' technology in all of our rooms. Bartech's e-fridge system has a strong track record in helping hotels worldwide to improve customer service, increase revenue, and provide real cost savings to hotel operators," said Alan Carrette, general manager of the Inter-Continental Houston Hotel. "The 'Intelligent Room' has truly revolutionized the capabilities of what we thought mini-bar systems were capable of, allowing us to drastically reduce energy costs, streamline customer service and provide comprehensive Internet access to our guests -- which today is the number one concern for business travelers."

According to Bartech, the largest provider of automated mini-bars in the world, hotels can save 45 cents per room per day on energy costs alone when using the "Intelligent Room." For example, a 500-room hotel would save approximately $80,000 a year in energy costs using the Bartech system.

Bartech's e-fridge units are equipped with sensors that are placed under all of the products in the mini-bar. When a guest removes an item, the system instantly sends a message to the hotel's PMS that posts it to the guest's bill. If the item is replaced in a pre-set period of time -- typically 30 seconds -- it is not recorded as consumed, but hotel staff is alerted to check whether the product has been tampered with.

"Having our first installation of the 'Intelligent Room' in the Inter- Continental Houston Hotel is a great accomplishment for us and will position us for future growth. We have been testing this technology for five years and are excited to have officially launched it in such a large and prestigious hotel," said Daniel Cohen, president and chief executive officer of Bartech. "Our partnership with Inncom International Inc. is another way in which we are looking to expand in the industry. This alliance has already provided us with a number of substantial cross-marketing opportunities and will continue to help us grow into new markets."