Supporting a virtual technological revolution in Jamaica

Top telecoms provider Flow has invested over US$250 million in Jamaica's ICT infrastructure to power a broadband network to deliver Digital Cable Television, Digital Landline and the fastest Internet services to homes, hotels, schools, libraries and other public areas across the island.

And now – through a partnership with Capital Networks and its Audience™ information delivery platform – Flow has been able to build on its own core infrastructure to deliver new innovative products and services to the hotel market in Jamaica.

Leading hotels, including the Jamaica Pegasus Kingston, Secrets Resorts and The Courtleigh Hotel are providing guests with dynamic Hotel Information Channels in their rooms. Powered by Audience™, they give hotel guests real-time flight information from local airports; live weather reports, as well as hotel event information. This exciting initiative represents an important way for the hotels to enhance their guest's experience and drive revenue by promoting value added services such as specials in the restaurant, spa offers or any trips/ entertainment coming up.

The highly flexible Audience™ is also powering Barker Channels in homes across Jamaica. All this, through one software solution – which ensures a low Total Cost of Ownership for Flow’s Columbus Business Solutions and its hotel customers.

Jamaica – tourism and technology

Think of Jamaica, and it automatically conjures up images of palm trees, white sands, Reggae.........Indeed, the island continues to be a prime tourist destination despite the global economic downturn. The Jamaican Ministry of Tourism is reporting a 7.7 per cent increase in visitor arrivals for July to September 2010 compared with figures in 2009.

Perhaps a more surprising fact about Jamaica is that the country's ICT infrastructure is now among its most competitive assets, rivaling first world nations in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

The strength of Jamaica's ICT capabilities is due, in part, to investment from telecommunications provider Flow Jamaica, a member of the Columbus Communications group of companies. Flow has made a significant commitment to Jamaica, investing over US$250 million to date in developing human resources, and building an island-wide all-digital infrastructure. Jamaica is now the only country in the region with a direct undersea fibre-optic connection to the United States and South America.

Partnership with Capital Networks
When it launched in 2006, Flow became Jamaica’s first broadband network offering Digital Cable Television, Digital Landline and Blazing Speed Internet service with just one connection. Today it boasts service availability to over 300,000 residential homes, and Flow is also dedicated to building a tech-savvy, digital, knowledge-based society through outreach and educational development programs to all Jamaicans.

Since 2006, Flow has been working with Capital Networks – a leading global provider of broadcasting and dynamic digital signage content creation and management software. Capital Networks' corporate roots are in the demanding broadcasting and cable TV industries, specializing in local news and automated playback systems. This broadcast specialism was a key factor behind Flow's decision to partner with them.

Michael Look Tong, Director Media Services at Flow Jamaica, takes up the story: “As the country's first all digital supplier, we have a reputation for reliability, flexibility, speed, cost-effectiveness and the latest, best technology. Capital Networks and the Audience™ platform supports us on all these fronts.”

Expansion into Jamaica's hotel market

Flow initially selected Audience™ - the industry leading information delivery platform – to run Barker (or information) Channels to residential customers and deliver high impact sales messages to subscribers.

The flexibility of Audience™ provided Flow with huge business growth potential. When, in 2007, the company looked to extend its services to the hotel market, the Audience™ solution provided a powerful platform to support and drive that expansion. Along with broadband services to hotels, Flow would use Audience™ to offer hyper-local information channels to hotel rooms across the country.

“Audience™ allowed Flow to expand using its core infrastructure as a base. Our primary business is Internet, telephony and Cable TV, but Audience™ enabled us to enter the hotel market where there is a demand for customized TV channels,” Michael Look Tong added.

Now, an impressive client list that includes the Secrets Resorts, the Courtleigh Hotel, Jamaica Pegasus and the Spanish Court Hotel are running the custom hotel information channels in guest rooms as well as various public areas throughout the hotel property. Channels are designed with the look and feel of each individual hotel in mind, and content is customized to each hotel's personal specifications.

When it comes to information channels, a DVD just won't do!
Hotel Information Channels deliver information about current activities or events and other value added services. From a hotel's perspective, they can help drive customer spend – and from a guest's perspective, they can help enhance the stay and overall experience; ensure they make the most of their time there.

To do this, they have to be updated quickly and broadcast to the entire guest base or directed to specific groups of guests. However, hotels have traditionally relied on DVDs for their information channels: PowerPoint presentations can be converted to DVD format and then viewed on a TV in a guest's room through a DVD Player. Obviously, there are significant limitations to this kind of system which is essentially static and difficult to amend if events change.

“Audience™ lets a hotel manage its channels dynamically,” Michael Look Tong continues. “Some of our hotels offer corporate functions across multiple rooms. They need to convey room scheduling information to guests and if there are last minute changes, it's essential that this information is displayed where it's going to be seen – in the lobby or in guest rooms.”

You have to give guests a reason to look at the channel

The 'look and feel' of a hotel's information channel must support its corporate branding, but it needs to be much more than just a pretty picture. It must give guests the value added services that will make them look at the channel.

The Audience™-powered information channels allow hotels to broadcast:
  • Airport flight alerts information – live feeds from local airports let guests know about delays and departures. This can be vital information for international travellers!
  • Weather reports – live local and national weather reports are streamed into the channel
  • News reports – live local, national and international news reports can be accessed and broadcast
  • General tourist FAQs
The hotel can also easily configure and create content to support its own activities:
  • Promote other services such as tours and excursions
  • Highlight specials in the restaurant
  • Promote entertainment events
  • Create an ambient atmosphere during 'turndown' service at night.
Beyond providing essential information to guests, the channels use a combination of still and video content for self promotion as well as generating extra revenue through paid advertising. The inclusion of Audience™.Billboard™ allows designated hotel staff the ability to create, schedule and post content as easily as filling out a web form.

Michael Look Tong again: “There are competing products on the market to create a hotel's information channel, but none are as robust as Audience™. And no other solution is as flexible. Audience™ is unique in its ability to power our Barker Channels to residential customers, as well a range of hotel information channels to over 2,500 rooms across Jamaica's hotels. And all this through one easy to use software platform,” said Look Tong

A bright future
The Government regulator of broadcasting in Jamaica is pushing to have television and radio broadcasting entities go fully digital by 2015. Flow is well positioned to support this move and its long term mission to 'develop and operate a broadband network to significantly enhance the social and economic development of Jamaica.'

Michael Look Tong concludes: “Flow currently commands around 70 per cent of the hotel cable TV market in Jamaica. In the near future, we will continue to drive information channels into hotel rooms and support hotels as they strive to give guests the best possible experience. With Audience™, we have a solid platform for the future that will allow us to move to HDTV and 3D when hotels choose to. And it's not just the hotels' business that will grow with Audience™. Our residential customers can benefit from value added services through our Barker Channels, such as Video on Demand channels and community-based Public Access Channels.”


For more information about Flow Jamaica, please visit
For more information about Capital Networks, please visit:

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