5 star Hotels are getting burned

Kevin Edwards

Deliveroo deliver on the short comings of Hotel Directorships !

Where hotels are going wrong in implementing technology

Kevin Edwards, business development director at Alliants says properties should better use the tech available by Kevin Edwards Reprint on newswire July 18, 2021

The Middle East has become the primary destination for obtainable luxury when it comes to the hotel sector globally.

The continuous development of hotels continues to drive the bar higher in terms of facilities, amenities, and technology.

However, with the pandemic hitting, the expected impact on top-line spending isn’t necessarily keeping pace.

When we look at the demographic and segment changes in hotel occupants over the last two years, have the hotel operators hit the mark when it comes to savvy technology investment to drive revenue?

For the 12 months prior to Covid, hoteliers had a sharp focus on key technology areas such as revenue management, and with Expo 2020 it made sense.

How can you optimise your inventory for the period of the event? Room nights, meetings, and events were the core revenue generators.

The guest drivers changed overnight and people wanted home comforts.

In-room TV streaming, room service ordering online, electronic keys, and contactless check-in and out.

And if they couldn’t get it from the property they would do one of two things:

  1. Stay elsewhere
  2. Use third parties to facilitate their needs

The first option became a clear opportunity as rates plummeted and with them access to properties with little demand and low occupancy.

The second option is a more complicated issue best explained by a recent real-life stay.

How hotels are failing to use technology

I arrived in typically efficient Middle Eastern style through the airport to a five-star business hotel with 800 rooms split between residences and hotel rooms.

I approached the front desk where service was diligent and warm as they checked me in and cut two keys.

Upon arriving at my room I noted that it had been cleaned to the brand new Covid cleaning standards, but there was no mention at the front desk of the mobile key that could have enabled me to ditch the plastic cards.

Having worked closely with this hotel, I am aware that the owner has invested significantly in mobile key technology (circa US$1m+) but there was no communication before my stay alerting me of the ability to utilise this innovation.

Nor was it mentioned on arrival. The experience wasn’t bad, it just missed the chance to be something better.

As I am now stuck in my room for 24 hours while I await my PCR test result, I am further disappointed by the fact that whilst there is a QR code to get to room service it is just a menu which means I have to pick up the telephone to place an order and hope that I can accurately convey what I require.

Alternatively, I could just follow what everyone else seems to be doing and order from Talabat or Deliveroo and do it all on my device.

Food ordered, work completed for the day, time to catch up on another box set on Netflix… Or not as I cannot stream a thing so it looks like I’m going to have to concentrate on that five-inch screen a little longer.

Technology is here to stay

Putting this all in perspective, Covid has probably simplified the guest journey.

However, it has now enabled a significant revenue opportunity in ancillary spend which many are missing out on due to technology adoption.

In my opinion, the operators have focussed on the whizzbang of technology rather than focus on the business case.

Meanwhile, the Talabat and Deliveroo drivers mount up in the hotel reception giving the hotel guests more triggers to order from them.

It seems to me that a website is too big for a fancy phone these days.

Tanya James
Tanya James moved away from a website and third party flower sales companies
Tanya James florist

For 10 years I worked for a very famous long established Florist in West London.

I became an all rounder, administration is really important, but it also gave me access to business information that I just accepted was the cost of doing business.

That was until I decided to set up my own business !

We had our own London based website, but the vast majority of orders came from a very well known third party order company.

Their annual costs and commission cost were quite frankly eye watering.

After being layed off during Covid, I decided to open my own Florist shop near my parents home in Telford, Shropshire.

There is a lot to consider setting up a new small business, the physicality’s were exhausting.

And further down the list of things to do, I became perplexed about the cost of an internet presence without using a third party ordering company.

Weighing up the advantages I had almost made the decision to sign up.

It seems to me that a website is too big for a fancy phone these days.

I was swayed by so many “truths” out there.

For example “fewer than 1% of Google searchers get as far as the 2nd page” and “25% of people click on the first result “

But it was my Dad who made a basic suggestion over his birthday Sunday lunch.

I had ordered a birthday card from an APP called Thortful the day before, it all began to click into place.

Dad said “it seems to me that a website is too big for a fancy phone these days “

My lightbulb moment had arrived, what if I bought an APP ?

And just when I thought I had embarked on a journey I could afford, all was smashed when the first 3 quotes came in from random APP development companies.

But there was a video I came across on you tube that changed everything.

It explained that I didn’t need to use the Apple store, there is a new type of APP, cheap to produce and host.

Perfect for small business.

It appeared as a website on a PC and an APP on a smartphone !

I wanted to use local social media effectively and go contactless as much as possible.

I also wanted to offer personal touches using QR codes on the bouquet such as music, personal messages, promotions.

Its endless and I feel confident customers who do business with me on their smartphone will spread the word.

Just like Thortful, I can now use SMS promotions, send out notifications, set up subscriptions, take payments, all the stuff I wanted to achieve but didn’t know how.

A Medium Daily Digest article published on newswire 19 07 2021

Property Agents are behind the curve.

Will Temple

As the market slows, many probably wont survive.

Thought leadership article

Valuable insight is still a top way to reach and connect with customers, partners, and other industry influencers.

Will Temple works in many sectors, but recently the problems inside the Property market industry are much more focused on the needs and expectations of the Smartphone user.

Will Temple
Thought leader

A Thought Leader is an individual or firm ascribed the quality of ‘Thought leadership’.

Thought leadership is influencing a narrative by understanding what needs to be done

Real Advice to Share

No one rises to the top without a few war stories and major lessons learned.

In this age of mentorship and yearn for professional development, people want to be able to understand how you got there and what you learned along the way.

There are no shortcuts, but writing gives you the opportunity to spread your message to a larger audience.

Driven to Help Your Audience Solve Real Problems

A common misconception of thought leadership is that it’s a soapbox and an ego boost for one person.

And while one’s expertise and wisdom is incredibly valuable, the rules of engagement are changing at tremendous speed.

Learning More From Your Peers and Pioneers

The best leaders admit when they don’t know everything, and the growing challenge is making decisions on future proofing,

It’s not down to the techie in the office anymore, its a much broader brushstroke.

Interviews with others in your industry—learning their founder story, mistakes they’ve made along the way, and the best advice they’ve received—is interesting and inspiring.

Although eventual solutions for our clients may well be complex, that is an irrelevance with the majority of my clients.

Reaching out on a telephone call is usual, movers and shakers have no time for phaff, they have problems on their mind that need to be solved, putting trust in the solution comes from putting their trust in me.

The questions I ask come from hard earned industry knowledge, they focus on identifying the problems and resolving the issue.

The majority of my calls result in decisions being made on the day, it like a weight is lifted off my clients shoulders.

Will Temple newswire article July 2021

Hotels moving away from analogue to clients smartphone services.

Hotelier Middle East

Hotelier Middle East NEWSWIRE article 12-07-2021

QR room codes connected to Hotel CRM

In 1988, the Louvre Pyramid was completed in Paris, adding 95 tonnes of steel and 105 tonnes of aluminium, stacked 70 feet in the air, to the grounds of the Louvre Museum.

At the time, people hated it, saying its modern, tech-filled and stripped back design had no place on the grounds of a 200-year old palace.

Now, however, the Louvre Pyramid has become an iconic sight and a physical representation of Paris’ past and future coming together.

Why are we telling you all this? Well, the hospitality industry is at a similar juncture right now.

A traditionally analogue industry, hospitality has gradually introduced more and more technology. Some say it enriches the human side of things and others fear the personal touch will be lost.

As anyone who has stayed in a well thought-out hotel will tell you, it’s about far more than just somewhere to stay for the night.

A visit to a hotel should be an experience from start to finish.

From the doorman tipping his hat to guests as they swing open the grand doors, to the shimmer of the mahogany desk as people check-in, or the appealing clunk of the door as a room key registers.

These are little details which by themselves may go unnoticed, but once combined, create something beyond the sum of its parts.

What would a hotel be then if that doorman was replaced by motion sensor system;

If the check-in process was done in advance via an APP, and if the room door swung open after recognising the guest’s face as they approached it?

A personal touch

The equilibrium of maintaining the personal touch but using technology for convenience, efficiency and, most importantly in 2021, health and safety, is something Marko Zirdum, general manager at Bishop Design by Paul Bishop, has been thinking about.

The design firm is one of the most forward-thinking in the region and has worked on some of the most striking hospitality projects in recent times, including SLS Dubai in Business Bay.

Bishop design
SLS Dubai by Bishop Design

Zirdum says: “Hotels are aspiring to find that perfect balance across both guest-facing and operational technology.

“For instance, there is a need to operate with fewer people and this comes at a cost of personal interface.

From an operations point of view, this reduction in staff is certainly more evident in light of the pandemic.

Personal interface is lost as we transgress into the future, especially when referencing such notions as moving away from traditional check-in experiences.

However, this certainly wasn’t caused by the pandemic, rather just a result of natural advancements.”

Bruno Pessoa, director of design and technology services MEA at Minor Hotels, has a different outlook.

He believes hotel technology can only increase a property’s personal touch.

Human interaction

Where does all of this leave the traditional, human concierge? Cleatus George, chief concierge at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island isn’t worried about being replaced by robots.

He says: “A concierge is important.

You are an advisor, a counsellor and a guest’s best friend.

You are the one-stop person when a guest needs help.

The most important thing is that the guest puts their faith in you.

Even more now, when technology has made information available at one’s fingertips, the tourist is overwhelmed with the amount of data online, opinions and options.

“Human beings seek personal recommendations based on subjectivity and emotion. Concierges are the ones to provide it.

We use knowledge, as well as our own experience to show our expertise to the guest while adding a personal touch.

“While it is a great tool for the concierge, technology will never be able to replace personal service and emotional bonds.

I always like to think that a service professional should go on a partial emotional journey with the guest, just enough so that the guest feels empathy but not so far as to be intrusive.”

Cleatus George
Cleatus George

Guests are the priority

For Accor, the role of technology of hotels is two-fold:

To maximise comfort for the guest and to smooth operations. Tariq Valani, senior VP IT, India, MEA and Turkey, says: “From a design perspective, guest-facing technology is the new priority on their Smartphone.

Per Hotel its very good value and runs independently in the cloud

This meant that offerings such as WiFi, interactive television, guest room telephones and other solutions were always given importance over the rest.

Following the pandemic, there has been a shift to ensure that solutions put in place make our guests feel safe and have an “at home” experience.

“While we move through this pandemic, it has been clear that the guest’s voice and needs have played a much bigger part in driving the technology strategy.

Where guests were not interested to use certain technologies in the past, this has changed dramatically.

“We are seeing a rise in comfort levels when it comes to online payments, using APPs for various purposes like opening door locks, switching on lights, opening curtains and scanning of new generation QR codes to access services in their room and in open spaces.”

Room QR on beautiful wall signage can directly connect to staff departments within the Hotel and the Hotel CRM

QR can also connect to pay here enabled smart form pages

This is revolutionary for pay for use or purchases facilities within the Hotel or future promotions.

Interestingly, the professional QR code system we adopted allows us to change the destination of the QR code without reprinting.

More importantly, new Generation APPs, dont have to be downloaded from the APP store and are super light on customers smart phone memory.

We are building a database for future APP notifications and direct SMS for valued clients.

Tariq Valani
Tariq Valani

Changing spaces

How will people interact with the physical hotel space in the future? With automation being rolled out as quickly as possible in some new properties, designer Justin Wells, founder of Wells International, fears hospitality could be losing its tactile nature.


He says: “The philosophy of my business is around the theatrics and pageantry of hospitality.

I consider the way spaces perform, their illumination, the movement and change of shapes under the guise of theatrics.

And this is a trend being picked up by the global operators within the lifestyle brands.”

Justin Wells
Justin Wells

Having led designs for the striking W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island in a previous role, his approach to design is self-evident.

He adds: “Humans are very haptic, we love the feel and touch of things.

We can see luxury by its plushness and its detail, and at times, you really just want to feel it. In a world where everything is hard and easy to clean, visually it feels like a lessened experience.

I fear that diminishes the experience of the guest.”

Yas island
Garage at W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island

Hotels’ hesitance

When it comes to owners and operators actually installing new pieces of technology, Wells says their is far too much resistance at the moment.

He explains: “You look at it through two different pairs of eyes. One pair is the owner/operators, and the other is designers.

For the owners and operators, technology is a cost and investment.

“We’re not at the beginning of the pandemic but we’re certainly not at the end”

Since we’re in the middle, owners and operators are really questioning what is needed.

If an operator has 10,000 hotels and then has to tell each owner to invest in certain technologies, the magnitude of that investment is so much.

It’s a difficult conversion to have, so economically, hotels are being cautious with what they implement.
Therefore, we’re only seeing what’s purposeful rather than what’s flashy.

Some people want to take a leap, but others are watching things unfold.”

Awakening the senses

Diane Thorsen, design director at Gensler thinks that while touchless technology will mean the tactile experience decreases, it doesn’t mean guests can’t be immersed into experiences.

Diane Thorsen Gensler
Diane Thorsen

She says: “We experience spaces using all of our senses. All of them are really key, touch is only one of five.

“That being said, Gensler was recently challenged to design something that used sight and sound instead.

Typically hospitality designers focus on the tactile aspect, but we thought we could create a space where you could hear birds singing, smell bespoke room fragrances, and create your own experiences with taste, even.


“The sounds are artificial, but the way we captured those sounds in nature was natural and the audio has been beautifully done. It’s about innovation.”

Thorsen believes hotel design is going back to its basics.

She adds: “We’ve crafted a new niche whereby we can tell our owners we can create experiences that activate senses in an experiential way.

Sure spaces are becoming simpler, but in its place, spaces have been going back to their roots, and that’s beautiful

One month in tech is like a year

retail
Marc Lambert pioneer using a Maltix built PWA

Marc Lambert online shoe and sportswear retailer Newswire July 06 2021

I inherited a business through my mother in law, a retail shop with 22 staff and a consistent $900,000 turnover

The business had lost profitability year on year for 7 years straight.

I could see the symptoms but didn’t understand the cause.

I very nearly spurned the opportunity all together, the hours were crazy and the back office systems chaotic.

The business was just about breaking even on a very modest Directors salary.

I had actually inherited a gobble monster inside a vicious spiral of upward costs.

By chance I came across some videos on you tube under “Break even analysis “

A light bulb went off in my head, my garden was full of weeds and the pruning was going to be brutal, I needed help and fast.

My first port of call was The Maryland Chamber of Commerce in Annapolis.

I met a highly regarded Consultant in the harbor, where we sat and talked for 2 hours.

The culmination of thought had one simple answer, we had to digitise as much as possible, as soon as possible.

We had to reduce the moving parts of the business, generate more business and lower variable costs.

That was phase one and we completed that in 6 months.

What happened in reality was floor to ceiling change, so much in fact, the main shop front asset was sold and fixed costs almost completely removed.

One month in tech is like a year.

It felt like I was destroying 27 years of business knowledge.

In fact the telephone system which cost $16,000 in 2011 was the first casualty.

APP based telephony was key when Covid broke, we needed our home workers to act on order deliveries and I had to manage that through a CRM and billing platform connected to their own smartphones.

The e-commerce part of the site we kept, we removed the website and replaced it with an APP.

These decisions fundamentally changed us from being a bricks and mortar retailer to a full online retailer selling and distributing to our target sportswear audience.

My staff were amazing and turned garages and workshops into storage and distribution.

We now operate with 7 staff, all on higher salaries. Our turnover is rapidly climbing and we hope to overtake the 2019 turnover within 2 years.

We now ship coast to coast and our reputation is growing on social media.

My advice to anybody contemplating the digitizing of their business:

You have to trust your clients, it’s what they want, it’s where they do business, it’s on their Smart phone.

Marc Lambert online shoe and sportswear retailer Newswire July 06 2021

4 Industries That Will Disappear Before the Year 2030

Levi Borba

They employ a quarter of the workforce, but in less than 10 years these jobs will be history.

Levi Borba Newswire June 2021

Future events are uncertain, and detailed information about times to come is impossible. But we can use current trends, technological innovation, and reliable information to predict likely scenarios.

During most of my career, this is what I did while working for global airlines.

It worked fine — most of the time we were right.

Predictions saved considerable money for these companies.

Saving money. In that lives the biggest benefit of futuristic reflections. Predictions are useful when we are planning our next investment or career choice.

The billionaire Bill Gates wrote a book called The Road Ahead twenty-six years ago.

There he predicts the impact of the Personal Computer revolution.

Many of these predictions materialised.

In the same book, there is also a phrase that stands true to this time.

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.

Considering the technological, socio-economical, and environmental changes of the next years, here is the list of 4industries that likely will disappear (or become niche) before 2030.

Telemarketing

This form of marketing will fade due to automation, and also because it is often annoying and intrusive.

In 2017, the Guardian published an article predicting which jobs would disappear. Telemarketing had a 99% chance to be fully automated in 15 years.

Nearly 70% of B2B buyers go online to search for business solutions instead of waiting for a call. Today, if you call up a prospect with an offer, the chances of making a sale are less than 5%.

The majority will hang up the phone.

There are still over 8 thousand telemarketing companies in the USA, but the effectiveness of most of them is questionable.

Besides, their business is changing from offering products to services like credit collection.

Therefore, instead of a telemarketing operator interrupting your dinner to offer you a new credit card, soon we will only receive a call if we forget to pay for the credit card company.

Staffed retail

As with telemarketing, staffed retail will also fade because of increasing automation.

Take a look at the picture of any supermarket 10 years ago and compare it with the same place right now.

Chances are that the number of self-checkouts at least doubled, reducing the need for human cashiers.

As a result, it’s been estimated that the self-serve kiosk industry will be worth $34 billion (£27.5bn) by 2023.

While the demise of the cashier is not a secret (it is one of the 4 professions that will disappear in the near future), other retail-associated jobs are at risk, like sellers or cleaners.

Places like the automated stores from Amazon Go will be everywhere.

In fact, Amazon themselves declared they plan to expand from the current 30 non-staffed stores to over 3000.

This plan, coming from a company that earned $300 million just by developing a button, looks plausible.

Customers who have the Amazon Go app just need to enter the store, grab whatever they want and walk out with the items. Later, their account is charged.

Of course, few retail sectors will remain staffed. While people do not need help to buy their groceries, niche industries like luxury stores will opt for the personal touch of sales assistants.

Staffed banking

A few months ago, I asked all my friends in our chat group when was the last time they visited a physical bank.

Of the 8 respondents (yes, not an enormous sample size, I know), only one answered less than 1 month.

On average, the last time they stepped into a bank was 3 to 4 months ago.

Ask yourself the same question.

Ask your friends and family too.

There are exceptional cases still requiring the physical presence in a bank agency, like a few businesses or people who are not tech-savvy enough, but they are becoming a diminutive minority.

Finance leaders warned that those in customer service, middle and back-office roles likely will lose their places to computers soon. 

IHS Markit estimates that 1.3 million bank workers in the United States will be affected, and 500,000 in the United Kingdom.

A report from GP Bullhound revealed that 91% of people prefer to use an APP than go into a branch.

That includes me and most of my social circle.

Unless you feel some peculiar pleasure by waiting in lines (I will not judge), I bet you prefer to make bank payments remotely instead of driving to the local branch.

Travel Agencies

Of all the sectors in this article, if there is one that I bet will disappear not before 2030, but even before 2025, are travel agencies.

Or at least the ordinary travel agency.

Besides all the data (see more below), I base this guess on my observation as a Hotelier.

Only 4 years ago we still had a considerable share of our guests coming from travel agents. Today they are rare.

Most people make their reservations using portals like Booking.com, Hostelworld.com, Airbnb.com.

Others book direct, using the resources from Google Hotels or TripAdvisor.

Even elders do that now.

But imminent change is on their horizon as well, Winding TREE innovations will completely remove commission based portals, they simply will not be able to compete.

In 2017, a report from Local Data Company (LDC) revealed that 700 brick-and-mortar travel agencies closed up shop in the UK alone.

The research found that the biggest reason is the competition from OTAs (online travel agencies)and short-term rental companies such as Airbnb.

A few travel agencies will survive, mostly in niches like extreme-sports adventure travel or group holidays for pensioners.

Or to travel out of the earth, like the nascent but booming industry of space tourism.

For that, you will need a travel agency since there are no rooms at the International Space Station available at Airbnb !


App stores are almost certainly on the verge of redundancy.

” The vast majority of small business do not yet operate an APP. “

New generation APP’s are a hosted product under the control of the small business owner.

They are cheap to manufacture, replacing websites and massively move the focus away from search engines to natural distribution on smartphone social media.

New generation APP’s do not require a distribution hub.

A prediction: App stores are almost certainly on the verge of redundancy.

Footnote Interview : Will Nicholls Director of The Maltix partnership.

Failure of digital transformation haunts me.

Medical clinic
Paula Maynard
Paula Maynard, BA in medical administration with her assistants Sheri Holding and Emma Star

Failure of digital transformation haunts me.

Interviewed by a leading medical journal June 2021 newswire article

Moving from the public sector to the private sector was a big move for me in 2019

Working at a senior level within the NHS was rewarding but frustrating.

My dream was always to simplify, my dream turned into a never ending nightmare of failure.

Without pointing the finger at anybody in particular, the skill within the method was absent.

The NHS winner is still a paper based system, distributed by an army of messengers.

The Managers Digital dilemma

So when the Partners in the Medical Practice asked me to be more involved with digital transformation, I was full of apprehension and trepidation.

As I eased in to the project, I spoke to my husband who is a work flow graphic designer for a London Borough and he asked some strange questions which led to a realisation.

He asked to see my office, he wanted to look at the age of the equipment and the signage within the building.

He promised me a report, which came inside a pretty box and all that was inside was his Smart phone and a brochure.

Let me help he said.

A huge part of his programme for the borough was based on QR and what that QR is connected to, especially around the pandemic.

For me he printed a list of options QR can be joined up to, it was as long as your arm.

He explained that all the complexities of QR print and the Departments responsible were in one shared place called SLACK, and that was the clue, it was on his Smartphone.

“Everybody carries a Smartphone these days, the vast majority are QR enabled”

The mock brochure he made had 6 example dummy QR codes

They can be changed even after they have been printed!

Each had a call to action within the code.

Join WI-FI here

Reserve appointments here

Map location here

Free QR reader here

Pay for a consultation here

Front desk information

Going digital CAN be paper based !

Its full circle, the Partners like the idea as a start point

The idea of a brochure that connects to the clients smartphone resonated.

QR codes will also be used as a wall collage, designed by my husband of course!

Education videos, information videos and cartoon style info-commercials for specialist services within the practice.

This time my digital transformation fills me with confidence, and the reality is I was wrong all along.

Going digital CAN be paper based !

Paula Maynard, BA.

Interviewed by a leading medical journal June 2021 newswire article

We had to let go of the stuff that used to be important.

Zo-clean-supplies
Tom Rice
Tom Rice Chief Executive chemical cleaning distribution Co West Midlands

This is a cathartic exercise, baring my business troubles from the last 2 years to my local small business community.

I wanted to share the pain but also encourage change in business operations for their survival.

We are a 40 year old industrial cleaning company distributing across the UK with a turn over of over £18 million.

The Company moto above the main entrance door to our premises hasn’t change since my late father created the company back in 1979

“If you do what you always done your gunna get what you always got”

And with the stratospheric growth of the younger faster generation, desperate to do business with us, we knew we were so behind the curve it was embarrassing.

We had lost over 20% of our contracts in 9 months.

Top heavy with administration, dated computers running spread sheets and word documents all cobbled together inside a telephone system we none of us had ever figured out.

You have to let go of the stuff that used to be important but no longer is.

So embarrassing in fact, the bust up inside our family business has been excruciating but unfortunately necessary.

Each department has been power washed, scrubbed with a nailbrush and desanitised !

Every Monday for 2 months I held “Starter, bumper, shaker, mover, let go day today, cat amongst the pigeons, out with the old in with the new, repaint, rethink and push the envelope of change” days.

The changes are astonishing but logical.

And all consequential, just part of the journey of change.

The staff age group that took to the challenge are dramatically more dynamic.

We moved to our own App based ordering system for clients.

No more paper invoicing, in fact no paper anything!

No telephones in the office, all replaced with an APP based system.

Adopted a Cloud based management system we calibrated ourselves in just 2 days!

The only thing that is recognisable from the brand of old is the brochure and even that is completely Smartphone enabled !

Tom Rice is guest speaker for online Events associated with the FSB and this article is distributed by Newswire. June 21 2021


ARTICLE LINK ASSOCIATION

20,000 small businesses could fold in West Midlands

Remove the Hotel switchboard for customer service.

Hussain Sajwani

Damac General Manager – operations Ali Sajwani believes hotels will continue to embrace new technologies by HME Maltix Newswire June 16, 2021

Ali Sajwani Damac
Damac General Manager – operations Ali Sajwani

When I think of hotels, I don’t automatically view them as technology-driven businesses nor incubators of innovation.

But, if we examine how hotels operate, the amount of technology involved is remarkable.

What is truly remarkable is that Hotels increasingly rely on cloud based actions directly off the Hotel customers Smart phone.

Property management systems for example, are complex software programmes that facilitate the entire guest experience from check-in to check out.

Artificial intelligence take PMS to a whole new level.

Smart hotels might look pretty much the same as regular hotels, but they operate in a completely different way.

The importance of connectivity

Like smart homes or buildings, futuristic smart hotels aim to connect devices and appliances to each other and the internet.

This is where the internet comes into play — even ordinary devices can now send and receive data, which makes them ‘smart’.

The internet of things is accelerating smart growth.

Even where multiple devices communicate with each other, they can still be managed by a single user from a remote point, smartphone or tablet.

Some appliances can locate and decipher information from the internet, allowing them to respond independently or intelligently to user instructions, for example, lights, curtains, and sound systems.

The possibilities are seemingly endless and accelerating.

Who doesn’t want to stay in a hotel room with automated check-in, intuitive temperature and lighting controls, entertainment-on-demand from your own streaming video or music accounts, and other highly personalised experiences, all enabled by these emerging technologies?

Why hotels should bother

I believe there are excellent reasons why major Hotel brands are waking up to change.

Technology can improve the guest experience.

It makes hotels less labour intensive and more efficient, which ultimately saves money.

Remove the Hotel switchboard for customer service.

Technology improves the guest experience

  • Guests don’t need to physically check-in, registration can be completed via any smartphone
  • Voice recognition can control in-room features such as TV, lights, curtains and A/C
  • Switchboard are over
  • Multi-language robotic concierge services available 24/7
  • Automated room service menus improve delivery time and reduce human error
  • QR APP enablement using quality wall mounted smart QR codes with a call to action ( Room service for example )
  • QR direct to over 25 possibilities within our portfolio ( so far)
damac
Damac room QR example.

Technology makes hotels more cost-efficient

  • Less security needed with facial recognition systems in place
  • Computerised check-in/out means less front-office staff.
  • No need for lift operators or baggage porters as these tasks can be automated
  • Smart cleaning devices reduce the number of housekeeping staff
  • Reduced requirement for room service.
  • APP based food delivery using new generation Hotel bespoke delivery APP
  • Smart A/C modules and lights lower energy demand and utility bills

Because leisure resorts have a more relaxed atmosphere than bustling city hotels, automation could be perceived as a novelty rather than a necessity.

However, this perception is changing at break neck speed.

At the other end of the scale, I can imagine certain hotel brands becoming synonymous with a fully automated service offering, appealing to, or creating demand for, a certain type of guest and priced accordingly.

Smart technology is undoubtedly not a passing phase; it is a trend that is here to stay. It will increase in the years to come with the notion of personal service taking on a whole new meaning.

New technologies by HME Maltix Newswire June 16, 2021

How the luxury Hotel sector has changed.

luxury Hotel

How the luxury sector has changed since the pandemic

Fiona Noble, chief growth officer at concierge service Quintessentially, shares the latest trends in luxury travel Hotelier Staff June 9, 2021 Maltix Newswire

How the luxury sector has changed since the pandemic
How the luxury sector has changed since the pandemic

There’s no disputing that the pandemic severely disrupted the luxury sector. The luxury market in the Gulf alone declined 17 per cent in 2020 to $7.4 billion,  with countries impacted by varying degrees, based on factors such as volume of foreign tourism.

In the Middle East, a break from the usual physical experiences that were an integral part of consumers’ daily life meant a revisit of priorities. During lockdown, the idea of what luxury consumers want and put emphasis on shifted and continues to evolve.

At Quintessentially in the Middle East, we witnessed an immediate focus among our members on self-development.

Lockdown was a catalyst for online experiences, from learning languages and musical instruments, mastering Pilates and meditation, and enjoying digital lessons from leading authors, artists and educators.

Privatised and curated experiences also trended highly, and continue to do so, as members consumed everything from exclusive film screenings and at-home spas to cookery masterclasses.

Quintessentially will continue to curate a robust suite of bespoke experiences for our members, both online and in person, allowing them to immerse themselves in their passions and burgeoning interests, especially off their Smartphone.

How the luxury Hotel sector has changed.

Gifting has increased, as members look to spend time – and money – on presents and experiences for their family to celebrate milestones.

Jewellery purchases spiked –  the only luxury category to achieve value growth in 2020 – and Chaumet, for instance, reportedly enjoyed booming sales.

There has also been a shift regarding sustainability and the environmental impact of the brands consumers wish to invest in.

From sourcing rare pearls from Paris, tracking down a hand- rafted Yves Saint Laurent handbag or antique Patek Philippe watch, or even designing a miniature zoo of customised, life-sized stuffed toy animals, the demand for luxury – albeit more meaningful – continues to flourish.

Travel is now front of mind and members are keen to not only tend to their businesses abroad, but also discover their own respective regions.

Behaviour regarding last-minute bookings among our members hasn’t shifted and has become even more prevalent in the recovery phase as they look to us to provide them with expert advice and guidance, mitigating uncertainty.

Unexpected results:

With advanced room QR code services connecting to a plethora of ideas all managed from our individual Hotel APP has gained in popularity, noticeably as repeat business.

Cross fertilising marketing from Room QR to Hotel APP and Room delivery APP is ongoing with unexpected results.

We had never thought the data from a Room upgrade, for example, would benefit the booking of wedding parties or Room service off the APP data could be channelled to business bookings.

QR room gifting has been especially successful, substantial orders right off the clients Smartphone.

Automating smart forms into the Hotel CRM has enabled us to better track client habits, one high end guest recently returned the favour of extra flowers in the room for flowers delivered to the front desk!

Domestic travel in the Middle East, along with the Seychelles, will remain popular for some time and is why Quintessentially curated multi-faceted, immersive breaks in partnership with Marriott, embracing the very best each region has to offer.

Answering luxury consumers renewed sense of discovery and desire for personalised experiences, guests can enjoy Doha’s renowned art scene, sample world-class culinary experiences in Dubai, explore the marine eco-system in Abu Dhabi’s mangroves and learn about Bedouin life, or discover the beautiful archipelago islands off the coast of East Africa, and much more.

Although global outbound travel from the Middle East is still impacted by restrictions, there has been increase of enquiries and bookings to Greece, US and France. In response to European market demand, Etihad is now flying to Malaga, Santorini and Mykonos.

As Saudi Arabia opens its doors to international tourism, we also anticipate destinations like Alula in the north west – steeped in Nabatean heritage and culture to appeal to that desire for transformative and adventure travel.

Overall, there is much to be optimistic about as the luxury market in the Middle East looks set to make a healthy rebound, with tourism playing a crucial role coupled with the region’s high local purchasing power and luxury brands willing to enhance their digital presence and offer bespoke products and individualised service and experiences through the clients Smartphone.