The younger generation dont need to press the flesh and sit-down like the over 50’s generation.
Travel for business is in permanent freefall, and the 9 to 5 mentality a thing of the past.
Business Hotels are publicly stating a 40% downturn with no sign of recovery.
In fact major contributors to this topic expect zero recovery- EVER
Business Hotels and office rental space have a massive dilemma, one I’m not sure has an answer.
My team has become a “mobile institution” because we do not travel at all
Sharing information and documentation has become so easy and the growth of CRM usage or business management systems like Slack is the new normal, in a way that seemed impossible just 2 years ago.
The consequences of zero travel
And information distribution to my team has become a “mobile institution” and I am observing emails being opened in the middle of the night, Slack comments early doors and documents being abandoned mid read.
On calls, I have asked key staff for there thoughts on a particular memorandum, knowing full well they hadn’t read the detail.
Volume of documentation is a real problem
The other more serious problem is the sheer volume of information share in the new mobile institution we work in.
And I’m not one for the detail of reporting systems, but its become increasingly obvious that key workers work on the move and that means they work on their Smartphone.
And thats where the problems arise.
Merrily creating documents in PDF or word on my PC without understanding the importance of creating that document in a Smartphone format wasn’t easy to grasp.
I slowly realised my staff and partners weren’t abandoning the document at all, they simply couldn’t read it !
The documents were un-navigable, huge or tiny on the screen, lumpy, slow to download and not fit for purpose.
The other challenge is because of the nature of rapid change inside our systems a document can quickly become out of date or invalid.
The answer was intrinsically a paper based solution.
Discovering Google Drive was the first part of the internal document revolution
This means that the Document/ Spreadsheet is live and can be changed and updated just like a web page or an APP.
Anybody who has access to the document sees the latest version.
So even after the document is posted in Slack or sent out on email, any iterations made are immediate.
That was a revelation, but only part of the solution.
It’s a self fulfilling philosophy.
Because if the document essentially always stays the same then if it was attached to an editable QR (that always stays the same), its the perfect conduit for a Smartphone enabled document thats scannable from the Smartphone.
If you think about it, a Smart QR code landing page only works on a Smart device doesn’t it?
So a PDF has to be Smartphone friendly on a system like that.
It’s a self fulfilling philosophy
Deciding on the Master QR control panel was easy and guess what?
A small Print job.
I printed it in high quality format and posted it to my team ! remember the Post office ?
A set reminder on email and SMS to scan the 5 QR for the latest document updates.
Each QR has a call to action pertinent to our organisation.
I have a clutch of Smart QR connected to a clutch of landing pages that deliver the Smatrphone information in the right format.
Interestingly, each QR also has a live link, much like a website link for anybody who’s on a PC etc it appears as a normal document.
Our very first Smart Company brochure is on the table now, Im looking for contributors.
But I envision Smart subscription QR taking centre stage again.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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
Damac General Manager – operations Ali Sajwani believes hotels will continue to embrace new technologies by HME Maltix Newswire June 16, 2021
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)
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 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
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.
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 experiencesthrough the clients Smartphone.