Friday, April 10, 2009

Voila! Motel Broadband

Hervé Thevenon is a computer geek that in 2004 took a bold move and packed up his family to immigrate from France to New Zealand for a better life.

In his job working for a multinational technology company, Hervé traveled extensively around New Zealand and prefered to stay in motels. He soon became aware that most properties did not offer wireless broadband. Those that did, offered a service that was inconsistant, insecure and not user friendly.

What started as a self interest desire to have wireless broadband available at his accommodation of choice, developed into using his skills to design an easy to use wireless broadband solution for motels.

Voilà® was born in 2005 and was the first alternate branded Wi-Fi service in New Zealand. Today the Voilà® wireless broadband service is offered in more motels throughout the country than any other comaprable service.

Hervé is a director of Imezio Ltd, he holds the French equivalent of a Master’s Degree in Computer Sciences and has worked in several multinational IT and telecommunications companies while living in Europe.

Hervé is not resting on his laurels. He is working on several projects, including new devices and services for the accommodation sector and complete IT systems for SMBs. Watch this space!

We are impressed by Hervé's passion for life and the contribution he has made to the motel industry. Hervé has kindly agreed to contribute to this blog:
Statistics NZ says real broadband Internet is still a luxury in New Zealand (1). Stats splits Internet access in two families: dial-up and the rest, including broadband (i.e. ADSL), satellite, 3G mobile. 3G mobile is the service many “road warriors” use to connect their laptops to home base when out of the office.
"3G" mobile services are far from being a threat for ADSL. This is because coverage and speed are not sufficient for a cost that is more expensive than broadband (2)(3). For example, outside the five main centres the speed of the communication will drop down to dial-up speed with the same unreliability. Services like Voila® aim to bridge this gap: the service the users get is very similar to what they get in their own office. They can do business in much the same way. Actually many of the road warriors mentioned earlier on, do use services like Voilà® every time they have the opportunity to do so.

Putting this another way, motels who put their guests on reliable access to high speed Internet are actually helping our country’s economy.

Every major Hotel in NZ makes guests pay dearly for broadband Internet and harvests a fortune every year. In contrast, more and more moteliers give away this rare and expensive resource. Is it to attract more guests? It sounds to me the recipe doesn’t work as we know that the motel industry has lost a share of the accommodation market. At Imezio, we have worked out that the motel industry has lost over $5 million of profit margin from basic Wi-Fi services in 2008, and is geared to lose another $7.5 million (to the very least) in 2009.

Also, internet services quality is very inconsistent from a property to another. This includes differences between various members of the "chains". Ease of use for the guests, tariffs, quality of the installation, maintenance: the end user experience varies between expensive crap, crap for free, expensive quality, quality for free.

No wonder Voilà® premises enjoy a growing number of returning guests across the country: we provide a predictable experience!

Our company, as a member of the "MANZ alliance", keeps MANZ regularly informed of those two growing concerns. We believe the spearhead of the moteliers "alliance" should provide guidance to their members, based on facts and figures about the quality and returns of the wireless solutions currently available on the market. We do not understand the policy that has been applied so far, to equally promote dramatically different services in terms of quality and return on investment.

Speaking of Alliances, Voilà® is present in nearly 15% of the Host Accommodation group. Without any kind of alliance between both organisations, that is quite a remarkable meeting of minds. Our reasonable pricing is publicly available on our web site (5) and doesn't deter the guests. The number of guests using Voilà® at each property has increased by 52% over 2008. More over, a recent survey has shown that the most successful properties are actually selling at the recommended retail price, not less!

How was our trade in January and what about the economic downturn? Slightly lower than last year, but December and January were higher, and February looks absolutely terrific! The same pattern happened two years ago. At this point we rather believe in a slight shift of the business pattern, rather than in a slow down of the trade - although I can only talk about the premises using Voilà®.






Check-out the Voilà® webpage to view the network of motels that offer wireless broadnad.

You may contact Hervé by email:

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