technology, hospitality, and plumbing…

An email solution for hotels that won’t fail

In General on August 12, 2010 at 20:57

EmailToo often, setting up and maintaining email is a burden for hotels. Small and even large chains struggle to provide reliable email (it’s not unheard of even for large chains to have email problems that last several days). Even when email is available, spam filtering can be difficult to control — either too much spam (does the world really need so much Vi@gra?) — or too little (customers unable to contact you, agents forced to reach for the fax machine!).

Smaller chains and individual properties are often advised to use Microsoft Exchange. To me, this advice is often wrong, as keeping Exchange up and running is an art that can be accomplished by only the most skilled practitioners! Therefore, the total cost of ownership is really high, especially when hardware, redundancy and backup solutions are taken into account.

A much better solution is to use Google Apps, which is a set-and-forget option. Google Apps has great features, with mobile email, shared calendars, as well as great uptime, spam filtering, and security. The email lives up in the Cloud, meaning it’s distributed over lots of servers in lots of places — a broken hard disk or lost laptop is not going to slow you down, as you can login from anywhere and get your email.

It works with the programs you’re used to — Outlook, Mac Mail, actually, everything else i’ve tried it with — although more and more people are using the web-based version, as the features and speed these days are excellent. Of course, the mobile support is great, with Push mail for iPhone, BlackBerry and Android.

So what’s the cost?
It’s free for up to 50 users. Incredible, right? So what’s the catch? Well, 6GB of storage instead of 25GB (both are enormous!). No paid techsupport (believe me, after 3 years of using it, you can live without it, this is Google we’re talking about). Ads shown on the right sidebar when you use the webmail (but no ads in emails, and no ads when you use Outlook or any other email program).

If you have more than 50 users, it’s US$50 per user, per year. This is very competitive to hosted Exchange solutions, which generally charge in the region of US$8-1o per user, per month.

My current company has been using the Premium version for the past 3 years — as we have more than 50 users, and clients and photographers are always sending us hi-res images. I’ve recommended it to several of our clients, who have been using both the Free and the Premium versions, and all have been delighted with the level of service we have received.

The Premium version is recommended as the support is better (24hr support on the phone with Google), each user gets 25GB of storage, and there are other benefits as well.

Save yourself the nightmare of email hell: Google Apps

Anthony Green – August 2010

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