Swisscom Hospitality has launched a generic application programming interface (API) that enables hotels to achieve full service integration between their guest room entertainment systems and mobile guest applications on the one hand, and their point of sales, property management and back-office systems on the other. In parallel, Swisscom Hospitality has developed an HTML5 application, allowing leading TV and set-top-box manufacturers to interact with its in-room entertainment solutions. The Swisscom initiative implements standard industry protocols and echoes numerous calls from the hotelier community for greater system interoperability among different best-of-breed applications.

The range of software employed in hotels is becoming ever more varied and complex. In the guest room alone, an increasing number of applications drive everything from door locks to lighting, temperature controls and television. In addition, more and more vendors propose specific guest applications for their mobile devices. In theory, guests will experience better service while hoteliers will be able to automate parts of their service fulfillment. In practice, however, all hotel software relies on other hotel software to perform; the ongoing integration effort already places an enormous burden on many hotel operators and often proves futile.

The new Swisscom Hospitality API reduces that burden. Relying on standard specifications and protocols, it can be used by any mobile application vendor – regardless of the app, mobile platform or device – to interface with Swisscom Hospitality’s IPTV, ConnectedHotel TV or any 3rd party IP application on a Swisscom-managed network. As a result, hoteliers have complete freedom when selecting their application providers and mobile guest application development partners, whilst at the same time being able to count on Swisscom Hospitality’s proven reliability and service management.

"Our new API provides the ‘glue’ among various application vendors in a given hotel. It thus reduces the implementation costs for advanced integration scenarios, such as concierge receives profiles of arriving guests; guest controls TV through his own device; guest places orders for spa, restaurant, room service through the TV screen; system assigns tasks to housekeeping staff in real-time; and so on", explains Thomas di Giacomo, VP global service development for Swisscom Hospitality. "In addition, we can easily interface with hundreds of different property management systems (PMS), billing systems, voice call engines and other rating systems both Swisscom and non-Swisscom applications."

HTML5 interface with multiple TV and set-top-box manufacturers

The same drive for openness has guided Swisscom Hospitality to provide a standardized HTML5 in-room entertainment application. All TV manufacturers can now interface with Swisscom IPTV and ConnectedHotel TV, benefiting from its flexible solution setup (Ethernet or Coax cabling, with or without set-top box). Hoteliers that do not intend to replace their TV sets now have complete access to a Swisscom solution, while those who envisage a room refurbishment benefit from the largest possible choice in terms of hardware partners.

Furthermore, Swisscom Hospitality can monitor and manage all networked devices, including set-top boxes and ‘connected’ TV screens 24/7, regardless of the TV brand.

"To date, the interfacing of new guest technology with the main hotel systems has required a lot of custom programming, resulting in a multitude of proprietary system environments that lack scalability and openness", adds Simon I’Anson, VP marketing at Swisscom Hospitality Services. He continues: "I am proud to say that we have found a future-proof solution for hoteliers to interface their best-of-breed guest applications with their point of sales, their PMS and all other back-office systems. In this respect, we have been working closely with leading hotel chains and the main players on the market that have repeatedly asked for more transparency and standardization. Now we are ready to deliver, be it in North America, across the EMEA region or in Asia Pacific."