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.
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.
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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.
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
David is a veteran of change, Director and the board of three US Companies.
My focus is the balance sheet, thats my main job. I am responsible for my share holders, the board and I dislike uncomfortable conversations with my senior, the Chairman.
The battleground for business is a constantly shifting threat.
Smaller agile business operate without the infrastructure costs of an established Company.
Guerrilla tactics to control costs inside my own business.
It’s the mindset of the Company to continue do what’s worked in the past, and from my experience of completing an MBA, far too much of what I was taught seemed out of date, even when I was learning to qualify.
So I have been taking a more radical approach by introducing external, fleet of foot, marketing tactics and technology, using a kind of Gorilla tactic to make changes to my existing staff assumptions.
I’m interested in the consequences of that external change.
It’s an uncomfortable personal growth for some but a necessary survival technique for their future.
I am sure I’m onto something !
We are seeing hybrid sales and unexpected new markets emerge, especially when we move away from the main stay of Google marketing into the more fluid world of Progressive Web APP distribution and a focus on immediacy of service and dispatch.
I say to any Director or CEO, its time for an old phrase of the 90’s to re-emerge. JFDI.
David Kalowski CEO Gadget -OPS-Michigan Newswire 23/06/2021
Solution provider for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce