Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hotels Add Fax Machines to Room Service Amenities

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Hotels Add Fax Machines to Room Service Amenities

Article excerpt

HAVE you ever needed to send a fax to a hotel guest who is awake when the front desk is closed for the night? What about receiving a confidential document that six hotel employees have read before it is slipped under your door?

Toronto-based AlphaNet Telecom Inc. says it has solved these and a few other problems by coming up with a system known as the "InnFax," which puts fax machines in hotel rooms and assigns each machine its own private telephone number.

"The problem has been that every hotel has a human operator that interrupts the fax coming in," says Michael Reichmann, one of AlphaNet's founders. "With our system, there is a second telephone line and a direct connection without using an operator."

In addition to providing fax service, the machines can receive copies of hotel bills from the front desk and two-page summaries of the Wall Street Journal free of charge; if the fax newspapers are ordered after 5 p.m., they also include that day's closing stock-market prices.

All faxes received by or sent from hotel rooms are charged to the guest staying in that room at a rate of about $1.50 a page. AlphaNet and the hotel split the revenue.

The InnFax works from a central computer in Rochester, N.Y. All calls are directed to the 716 area code and then rerouted to the hotel room. "The entire network is our own proprietary software," Mr. Reichmann says. "We do not rely on any other company's technology."

AlphaNet has installed fax machines in 8,500 rooms in 130 hotels, mostly in the United States, but also in Canada, Singapore, and Hong Kong. Early next month, 170 machines will be installed in a Tokyo hotel, and Reichmann says he hopes to have deals signed soon in Australia, Indonesia, and New Zealand.

"We're also looking at Europe as well as South America and elsewhere in Asia," says Reichmann, who is in charge of international sales as well as executive vice president of the firm. …

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