Read the latest postings from our Uniguest team

What Is the Internet and How Does It Work?

Many people think of the “internet” and the “World Wide Web” as the same thing. However, the two are very different from one another, yet still related. The internet is a system of many physical devices interconnected with one another, such as cables, computers, wireless radios, specialized communications hardware boxes, and even space satellites. The sole purpose of the internet is to move digitized information (or data) from one place to another. A similar system is the electrical grid, which is made up of many physical devices connected to one another with copper wires that moves electricity from one place (a powerplant) to another (a home or business).

The World Wide Web is one of many internet-based services we use every day. Other internet-based services you may be familiar with are email, instant messaging, and music streaming. These other services are typically accessible in a web browser, such as Chrome or Safari, even though they are not the same as the web. The reason for this is you can use a web browser to control other internet services that are not the World Wide Web. The browser gives end users a straightforward way to “tell” various internet services to start sending data to you.

At its most basic level, the internet works by interconnecting many different electronic devices, providing electricity to all the devices and then providing special instructions that these electronics automatically execute and repeat. The special instructions will vary based on what internet service you want to use, but all of them contain the same basic set of instructions that tell the electronic device how to talk to other electronic devices which form the internet.

Thanks to the internet, Uniguest can provide global support, leveraging modern technologies to speak and collaborate in real time with our team members in other countries and states to deliver better support and products.

For a more technical and in-depth explanation of how the internet works, please refer to this white paper by Rus Shuler.

Jesse Boarman
Tier III Technical Lead

Emerging Markets

In 2018, Uniguest is expanding its solution offerings outside of our hospitality heritage into new and promising markets. This business is defined as “Emerging Markets” to appropriately depict areas in which we find there to be similar needs as the hospitality market we have been serving for more than three decades.

While Uniguest will continue to serve and address the needs of its hospitality customers, the Emerging Markets segment will continuously evolve to address the differences in client expectations. Our team is incorporating new processes and customized offerings while leveraging and extending our existing solutions to serve more industries.

Uniguest is already serving clients in retail, apartment and senior living sectors. The retail sector is seeing a great opportunity to provide their customers with public-use kiosks as revenue-generating print and on-the-go work stations. In senior living and apartment communities, there is a need for simplified mobile print and internet access as well as the opportunity to redefine the user interface and resident requirements.

Today we are just scratching the surface with installations in over 1,500 community living and retail locations, and we look forward to exploring opportunities across new and emerging industries.

Steve Delcarson
EVP – Emerging Markets

There’s Tech Support, and There’s the UCrew

by Kat Minton | Uniguest | January 2018

UCrew LogoGet familiar with our best-in-class technology support team

Imagine one of your many devices goes down. When you call for support, the phone is promptly answered, and you are greeted by a live person who is extremely knowledgeable about the situation. No long holds, no run around. This is the type of tech support Uniguest had in mind when we structured the UCrew, our best-in-class technology support team.

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, the UCrew fields questions and requests, assisting guests and customers in all facets of computer use. To make it as easy as possible to connect with a technician, the UCrew is available via phone, email, and chat messages on the Uniguest website. The team coordinates the activities and technical requirements of dependent technologies, such as networking, internet access, and manufacture warranties. Should you need to speak with your other vendors, a member of the UCrew is able to join the call so that any questions can be resolved on the front end.

In an effort to provide even better support to our customers, we are expanding our commitment to new technologies that will help us resolve issues prior to being reported. Our proactive monitoring system has been developed to notify us when computers do not appear to be working properly. With this added functionality, our team is able to begin working on the problem often before you even realize that there is one.

What You Should Know About the UCrew:
• 24/7/365 coverage based in the U.S.
• Fully redundant management tools and call center systems as well as multiple resilient locations
• Best-in-class average wait time targets of less than 60 seconds
• Best-in-class same-day resolution rate of more than 75% (compared to the 65% industry standard)
• Less than 1% of supported devices experience trouble at any given time
• Agents go through rigorous certification to provide the best possible service
• UCrew agents specialize in the technologies they work with
• Historical data is used to optimize our agent schedules and increase availability
• The best technical agents are recruited and Uniguest actively works to grow their expertise

To learn more about the UCrew and Uniguest’s suite of products, please visit us at www.uniguest.com. If you need support today, visit the UCrew support page to chat or email the team, or call the UCrew at (800) 467-1218 option 2.

Be Our Guest: Profile of a Business Center / Social Space User

by Kat Minton | Uniguest | December 2017

The days of hotel public-use technology catering solely to the business traveler are long gone. While public-use technology still works to meet the needs of those traveling for work, it is also serving guests traveling for leisure.

In the past 30 months, user activity in Uniguest public-use technology has grown by 40 percent, serving 85 million users in 2016 alone. In addition to the heavy usage of productivity applications such as Word and Excel, there were more than 1 billion website hits. Business travelers tend to utilize the productivity applications and printing functions more, while leisure travelers tend to visit webmail, social media sites, and travel pages.

With a 35 percent surge in printing, it is no surprise to find that more than 65 percent of travelers deem printing capabilities as a critical amenity to have at a hotel. To accommodate for this need, hotels are adding wireless printers, like cloud printing, to their social spaces and business centers so that guests can print from their own devices and pick up their documents with a secure code when they are ready.

Regardless of the type of traveler you are serving, the resounding need for travelers using public-use technology is security. Whether logging into personal mail or accessing a highly confidential document, the user should have peace of mind that upon logging off or a period idle activity, the session will be wiped clean and none of their information will be left behind for another user to stumble upon. In addition to the personal security, all kiosks are equipped with content filtering to ensure that guests do not come across any sites that would not be suitable for a public space.

Understanding a “Secure Landscape”

by Jason Meister | Infrastructure Architect, Uniguest | September 2017

Because I come from a history of developing security-conscious enterprise applications, I want to take a few moments to talk about understanding and caring for an application or system’s “secure landscape.”

What I mean by “secure landscape” is that whatever your application, there’s some sort of security that you’re trying to ensure. Whether it’s securing physical access, user privacy, the operating system, or possibly just application integrity – you have some level of responsibility to protect something or someone. Take an inventory of everything your application does and think through possible security-related responsibilities you might have to your users, applications, or systems in general. Everything together makes up your “secure landscape.” Words that might be running through your mind might include: encryption, privacy, spyware, plain-text, credit cards, data persistence, history, communication, handshake, packet sniffing, keylogger, any sort of injection, etc.; the list goes on.

It’s not uncommon to have a secure landscape that spans several dozens of applications housed in several datacenters and individual workstations. The unique challenge that Uniguest has is that on top of the everyday stuff, it also includes more than 20,000 individual workstations running custom-built software on several hardware profiles with several operating systems – all promising a secure experience to the end user. Let’s also call out that the end user in this environment is anyone who sits down at a computer (untrained on these systems) – and in many cases, will use their credit card to do so (as if there weren’t enough responsibility to carry on your shoulders without credit cards). Maybe go back and re-read those last couple of sentences, because yes, I said that untrained users plug in credit card information into a public-space computer running any combination of operating system + hardware and promising the end user a private and secure experience.

Fortunately, Uniguest understands the vast secure landscape and is constantly evaluating systems, applications, and even processes and business rules in order to stay ahead of exposure and threats. We all remember the big ransomware fiasco that swept most of the globe in Spring 2017? Uniguest stayed ahead of it due to focused monitoring and swift preventative patching, resulting in the fleet of 20K+ remaining unscathed. Remember Target’s in-store credit card breach right smack in the middle of holiday shopping season 2013? Well, thanks to hard lessons learned by others (them), the PCI Security Standards Council came out with stricter requirements for merchants accepting credit cards. I can tell you first-hand that Uniguest’s latest platforms and internal processes not only adhere to those requirements, but go above and beyond by enforcing many best practices and findings from the OWASP research and recommendations. Want some good (but dry) reads? – visit https://pcisecuritystandards.org and https://owasp.org.

Having a former-Airforce + cybersecurity expert as your COO tends to keep you on your toes as far as security is concerned – there are no shortcuts or assumptions. Now, not only does Uniguest rely on experience and expertise of in-house resources, but also actively puts systems to the screws with Rook Security. Rook is a third-party, globally-recognized specialist in security assessments, and I was truly impressed by their knowledge and thoroughness in their assessments.

Getting back to the topic at hand: You should always have your secure landscape in mind when building any application or system, and take responsibility to ensure that it is in fact secure. Steal a page from Uniguest’s book and take the opportunity to hire the right resources, learn from the misfortunes of others, think outside the box to partner with outside experts, and strive to build the best and most secure systems in your space.