Having first explored the market for pay-per-use telepresence videoconferencing suites last fall, Cisco Systems last week announced a more extensive rollout of its technology in select hotels. Both Marriott International and Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide plan to offer the high-definition meeting systems in U.S. cities and worldwide business hubs.
Using multiple screens and high-quality audio and video, telepresence technology gives meeting participants an experience closer to being together in the same room than other kinds of videoconferencing. Until now, the market for these expensive systems has been limited to the largest companies.
Starwood will open telepresence suites in 10 hotels by the end of 2009, partnering with Tata Communications, the company Cisco worked with last year to set up systems in four Taj Hotels properties.
The first Starwood telepresence facilities are planned for the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, Sheraton on the Park in Sydney, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, The Westin Los Angeles Airport, and W Chicago-City Center. And according to Tata, hotels “in international business markets like Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Tokyo” are also under consideration.
In spring 2008, Marriott announced plans to offer pay-per-use telepresence rooms using the competing Hewlett-Packard Halo technology, but that relationship has not come to fruition. In last week’s announcement, Marriott said it will open 25 telepresence locations around the world with AT&T’s telepresence solution, which uses the Cisco technology.
The high-tech meeting rooms will begin opening in October in Marriott properties in New York, San Francisco, Washington, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Frankfurt, and London.