Starwood launches telepresence rooms in Sydney and Chicago

Friday, 26 February, 2010

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide unveiled its first in-hotel Cisco TelePresence meeting suites this week with a virtual, interactive meeting spanning across two continents: Australia and the US. The W Chicago City Center and Sheraton on the Park Sydney are the first in Starwood’s global portfolio to introduce the new meeting facilities, showcasing the state-of-the-art Cisco TelePresence technology.

Guests, corporate clients and the media were brought together in a true-to-life meeting setting, despite being more than 9000 miles apart and the 17-hour time difference. Participants in multiple locations had a seat at the table and were able to meet 'face to face' utilising ultra-high-definition video, superior audio and life-size imagery of all participants. In addition, other participants were beamed in from Singapore, Paris and Santa Clara in California.

In June of 2009, Starwood announced a partnership with Tata Communications and plans to build Cisco TelePresence rooms in 10 properties worldwide. In addition to the W Chicago and Sheraton on the Park Sydney, inaugurated as part of this partnership with Tata Communications, two more Cisco TelePresence meeting suites will open in the first half of this year including the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers and Sheraton Centre Toronto, which will come online in the upcoming months. Other Starwood locations planned to open throughout 2010 include The Westin Los Angeles Airport, with the anticipation to expand the offering to key domestic and international business markets such as Dallas, San Francisco, Brussels, Paris, Hong Kong and Frankfurt.

As an industry first, reservations for these telepresence rooms can be made instantly using the Tata Communications online portal, with a convenient payment capability using all major credit cards. The cost will be AU$500 per hour at both ends or the equivalent in the currency of the other country.

"With 2010 fully in gear, we’re well on our way in bringing more public rooms in critical business hubs like Sydney and Chicago. We hope that through this partnership with Starwood, even more business executives can take advantage of the productivity this technology offers and save on costs that can be invested in their core competencies. We intend to make telepresence available to as many users as possible with our global network of public telepresence rooms and our suite of managed telepresence network services for businesses. This opening is just the first step in that direction with many more in other key markets soon to follow this year," said Peter Quinlan, Director, Managed Telepresence Services, Tata Communications, speaking from Singapore.

“More businesses are recognising the value of being able to rent telepresence facilities by the hour, either to extend their existing deployment to further locations or to experience telepresence for the first time. Having meeting facilities in a comfortable setting with access to business services at times that fit individuals’ schedules can help to take some of the grind out of travelling. The value of public suites facilities increases exponentially as more rooms from more providers come on stream, so [this] announcement represents another key milestone in making these facilities more practical for business,” said Mark Weidick, VP/GM for Cisco’s TelePresence Exchange Business Unit, who was in Paris.

Cisco has over 3500 telepresence sites globally.

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