Integrator Hits It Big With $20,000 Casino Networking Solution
Technology Integration Group wins a deal to install an Internet gateway and a wireless LAN at a Native American gaming casino/resort.
Everyone knows making cold calls is a long shot. However, when you are trying to open a new market, sometimes making cold calls is your best bet. That's the predicament Charles Vest was in when he was assigned the task of developing the casino market for Technology Integration Group (TIG), a San Diego-based networking integrator.
Vest, a senior sales account manager, already had some sales success with casinos when he made a call to a Native American gaming casino/resort that was under construction. The 16-story facility was already working with a Cisco (San Jose, CA) VAR for the network infrastructure, but had yet to decide on a high-speed Internet solution that would provide visitors Web access in guest rooms, meeting rooms, the pool area, and lobby areas. "The client didn't like the existing VAR's Internet access solution, so I presented the Nomadix [Huntington Beach, CA] product as an alternative," explains Vest. "They needed Internet access for approximately 500 rooms and the Nomadix USG High Speed Internet Gateway has the capability to serve 5,000 customers."
Convince Customers Of The Merits Of Wireless
Once Vest sold the Internet Gateway, he proposed adding wireless Internet access via a wireless LAN (WLAN). Initially, this suggestion didn't go over well with the tribe running the casino/resort. "Convincing the tribe to install a WLAN was difficult," Vest admits. "I first had to convince the tribe members that wireless access to the Internet is one of the key features business travelers and groups look for in a resort these days. I also had to alleviate their concerns about WLAN technology disrupting the aesthetics of what is considered a sacred area."
Even after the tribe agreed to install a WLAN, Vest had to convince the customer his 3Com (Santa Clara, CA) solution was better than the Cisco VAR's. To help close the deal, Vest had 3Com representatives accompany him on some of the sales calls. Ultimately, it was the antennas on the 3Com access points that swayed the customer to go with TIG. The antennas are removable on these access points and can be customized to increase the coverage area, thereby reducing the number of access points needed.
Don't Give Away WLAN Profits
With WLANs, the real money to be made comes from the services VARs can provide rather than the hardware sales. TIG realizes this and offers clients every aspect of a WLAN installation.
At the casino/resort, TIG completed the wireless site survey (with assistance from 3Com) when the building was about 95% complete. The company then installed 30 3Com AP-8000 access points in specially designed ceiling tiles made to conceal the devices. The AP-8000s are 802.11b access points that have four antenna options for extending wireless connections up to 1,000 feet. The AP-8000s also include power over Ethernet technology, which eliminated the need for TIG to run additional power supplies to each access point. The total solution, including the Nomadix gateway and a service/support contract, cost approximately $20,000 and was completed two months after Vest's first cold call to the casino/resort. Vest says the only end user training was regarding the WEP (wireless encryption protocol) wireless security built in to the access points.
"This was one of the largest WLANs we've installed, and we now use this client as a reference for the other Native American gaming casinos [approximately six] we work with," Vest says. "In fact, one prospective customer is using our solution as the template for a new casino/resort."