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.

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

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.

Luxury takes a back seat as affordable hotel brands.

IBIS

Luxury takes a back seat as affordable hotel brands boast bigger pipelines in the Middle East.

The Hotelier article today.

There are more than 500 hotels on the way in the region, mostly from Hilton, Marriott or Accor

08 Jun 2021

Middle east

There’s an impressive 534 hotel projects currently under construction in the Middle East, totalling 153,225 rooms.

That is according to Lodging Econometrics’ latest Construction Pipeline Trend Report, which revealed which destinations have the most hotels on the way.

And 48 percent of the projects in the pipeline in the Middle East belong to three companies:

Hilton with 93 projects and 25,200 rooms, followed by Accor with 89 projects having 25,882 rooms. Next is Marriott International with 75 projects and 22,160 rooms.

Luxury takes a back seat as affordable hotel brands.

The leading brands in the pipeline for these companies are Hilton’s DoubleTree with 27 projects and 6,083 rooms.

Hilton Garden Inn with 20 projects and 6,566 rooms;

Accor’s Ibis brands with 12 projects and 4,274 rooms and Movenpick with 12 projects accounting for 3,153 rooms;

Marriott Courtyard with 15 projects/3,432 rooms.

Residence Inn with nine projects and 1,196 rooms.

Unsurprisingly, Dubai in the UAE takes the top spot with 115 projects and 32,596 rooms on the way.

On a country-wide level, Saudi Arabia leads the way with 185 projects and 66,898 keys; followed by the UAE with 154 projects and 42,327 rooms.

Egypt with 61 projects and 14,912 keys.

Qatar with 57 projects and 14,047 rooms;

Oman with 32 projects and 6,474 rooms.

Capital cities Riyadh and Doha hold the most projects behind Dubai,.

KSA city having 54 projects and 11,070 rooms.

Qatari city having 50 projects and 12,017 rooms.

The Hotelier article today.

Hotel Directors unwittingly give their data away.

Dubai

A reactionary article published in the Hotelier magazine Dubai and released on newswire.

The Hotelier: June article:

Speaking at The F&B stakeholder Hotel Show Dubai 2021, a Balkan restaurant boss said that “discounts should be a tool to reward loyal customers, not to attract new ones”.

“It time for restaurants in Dubai to end their reliance on discount APP’s, such as The Entertainer, to get customers through the door”

That’s certainly the opinion of 21 Grams owner Stasha Toncev

Reaction: “We took an opposite view to articles like this”

Hazeem Nadim Director of a prestigious Dubai boutique destination states that Hotels that use third party APPS are giving their data away instead of keeping it to market internally themselves.

If they do not own and operate the APP themselves, there is an illusion that past clients will simply move on to the next discounted outlet.

That was his conclusion after time spent time with a new marketing manager after their previous manager left when Covid struck.

Sandeep Patel is a recent graduate and marketing manager from the Indian institute of Technology, Delhi.

Hotel Directors unwittingly give their data away.


His forward learning graduation programme focused on rental cloud technology to enable their clients Smartphone.

Hazeem Nadim
Hazeem Nadim Boutique Hotel Dubai

With visitor numbers down 60 %, Hazeem was curious how they could use a new generation Progressive Web APP in combination with QR codes within the hotel to generate future business on social media.

Sandeep Patel focused on the combination of a hosted room service Food delivery APP in combination with advanced QR marketing ideas.

The QR codes all have a clear call to action and are distributed in every room and open space.

Hazeem Nadim and Sandeep Patel are encouraging their past and present customers to distribute their promotions on social media.

Some of the ideas developed so far.

Future discounts on multiple stays.
Inviting friends rewards.

Hen or stag nights
Vouchers to book a table for larger parties.
Wedding deals.
Book a birthday present.
Meet the manager drink at the bar.
Book another night with a free bottle of bubbly.

Quiet mid week booking success!

Special offer during the week stay for 3 nights pay for 2

Vast amounts of automated data into the Hotel CRM allow us to get even more creative with cross marketing.

It’s a new beginning, we are excited to explore new marketing techniques.

Hazeem Nadim Boutique Hotel Director, Dubai.

A subscription newswire article:

Food delivery APP’s guarantee a loss making restaurant.

Chef fighting back

“With delivery sales at 70-80% of restaurant sales, the delivery companies are now taking 18-20% of restaurant revenues.

When average restaurant profit margins are 8-10%.

This makes restaurants no longer viable.

Delivery companies charge restaurants a minimum of 25-30% for their standard service of placing an order, picking it up and delivering it.

Ref: The Guardian.

The simple truth is every delivery sale is a money-losing proposition for restaurants being forced to pay 25-30% to the delivery companies.

Depending on “marketing and promotion” options, restaurants can pay higher fees.

None pay lower.

When delivery sales were 5-10% of sales:

Delivery fees took 2-3% of total restaurant revenue.

With delivery sales at 70-80% of restaurant sales, the delivery companies are now taking 18-20% of restaurant revenues.

Given restaurants’ dependence on the delivery companies, governments examine the predatory pricing practices of the delivery companies.

Restaurant are hood winked into signing contracts.

Restaurants sign contracts with the delivery companies to become part of their platforms.

But the contracts all include a provision:

This allows restaurants to end the contract anytime they choose. Ref: Seattle times

When delivery-fee caps are imposed.

Restaurants can legally end their existing contracts and sign new ones at reduced commission fees.

Food delivery APP’s guarantee a loss making restaurant.

But Restaurants are fighting back for a sustainable APP delivery business.
Chef Leigh Say, Nosh Stalgia Restaurant England

” Over 80 delivery’s a week, averaging £22 per head. On a good week we take £7k and after food delivery costs , we never break even “

May 2021 Restaurants are fighting back for a sustainable APP delivery business.

New cookie cutter Progressive Web APP (PWA) technology has burst onto the scene.

It’s cheap and has all the tools for the individual restaurant or kitchen to manage their own APP delivery business.

The ongoing savings are dramatic for the long term survival and success of any restaurant.

Benefits in a glance:

Handing all their client data to another’s business model, is a problem.

This way the restaurants retain their data for their own balance sheet and future marketing.

Take control of quality delivery using their own staff.

Using the power of multiple repeat business, this restaurant food delivery PWA has just a 2.9 % card payment fee using Apple Pay.

Contactless client payment to all authorised staff.

Limitless inventory.

APP order process function.

Driver notification.

Packaging QR codes connected to Digital Loyalty card.

GEO fenced delivery area.

Latest client “touch it and they’ve got it APP technology” no APP store download required.

Works if temporarily offline, tunnels boats etc.

Brochure:

Book a call for more information.