Times have changed and so has the hospitality industry.

Nowadays, bigger is almost always better.

Quaint bed and breakfasts may still exist, but most hotels have gone in the other direction. Just take a look around at any recent hotel or casino and you can literally get lost. Who hasn’t heard about someone losing their way trying to get from a casino floor to their hotel room, in the same building?

With such architectural advances come changes to the infrastructures as well. The systems required to operate today’s hotels and casinos are nothing short of amazing. Heating, air conditioning, electrical and mechanical systems can take up entire floors of properties. These buildings require massive systems to make them work.

As such, technology and enhanced systems have come to play a crucial and critical role in the safety and security of hotels and casinos and their guests. The major areas of safety and security at these particular facilities include surveillance, fire alarms, access control and CCTV. All of these are routinely utilized by both security and safety staff since the day-to-day operations of such heavily populated facilities require constant and consistent monitoring.

Going wireless

Many facility planners and managers of hospitality and gaming institutions have chosen wireless solutions, mainly due to the sheer size of the operations and the mobility the technology provides. Most of the wireless solutions readily available allow for such systems solutions to operate over 250,000 square feet of space. Sounds like a lot, but consider that the gaming area alone of some casinos is bigger than that.

Another reason why wireless has caught on is the sheer expense of cabling. Hardwiring such large properties is something that can tap out a construction budget faster than a long winter. By incorporating wireless applications into everyday operations, some in the industry have found a way to stretch not only their security budgets, but their voice and data communications dollars as well.

Countless wireless solutions are available or evolving. Many proprietary systems have flooded the market and depending on who it is you are talking to (and more importantly, which manufacturer/designer the individual represents), you will undoubtedly receive a variety of opinions regarding which method works best.

But, putting all of that aside, there are some “standard” wireless solutions for this particular industry that can be customized to your application by your designer or installer.

The basics

Guest paging systems have grown in popularity throughout the years. The specific type that seems to be the best suited for hotels and casinos would be the wireless version; specifically, establishments that have restaurants. This is generally a portable base (which resembles a drink coaster) that patrons carry with them throughout the property while they wait for their table. This particular solution enables the property’s guests to move about the facility, perhaps spending some extra cash in the casino in the process.

Another option would be PDA devices linked via a wireless system to pertinent database information. This is helpful not only for customer service, housekeeping and maintenance personnel, but it is easily translated into an invaluable tool for security staff as well, since they need instant access to guest information.

Two-way radio communication tools may also be the perfect solution for these types of facilities. Two-way radios have been in existence for quite some time, but they have evolved. Advanced technology now allows for clearer transmission, an overall decrease in dropped signals and a broader operating range.

Incorporating new offerings and keeping an eye on current and future trends in the safety and security side of the marketplace may in time help ease the burden of operating these facilities. For those just getting started, using security consultants is advisable, especially since safety and security requirements differ from facility to facility and computer technology continues to evolve at what seems to be light speed.

Staying abreast of current trends, and products and solutions helps those involved in the planning and implementation process get a system that will meet their needs today and in the future. Know what your potential options are, well before the salesman steps into your office.

STONG-MICHAS, a freelance writer, lives in central Pennsylvania. She can be reached at JenLeahS@msn.com.