Eliminate friction points, hospitality experts say
Technology today has the power to eliminate several friction points that guests might face when they book and arrive for their hotel stays, experts at the HITEC Dubai 2018 exhibition and conference said.
Speaking in a session at the event, Olivier Harnisch, CEO of Emaar Hospitality Group, said that there were several technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI), that have the power to improve customer experiences in the hospitality industry. Operators, he explained, must learn when and how to adapt these technologies to their existing system.
"You need to look at moments that are considered to be friction points for your customers," he said. "One of the biggest friction points that always comes up is the waiting time during check in and check out. Today, you have the technology that allows you to check in the moment you set foot into the hotel, completely eliminating the need to even have a desk for this purpose. Another is the waiting time for the bill at a restaurant at a hotel; today you have the technology that allows you to tap on your smartphone, immediately pay for your meal and be on your way."
In addition, he also spoke about the increase in connected devices and what that would mean for the industry. "You carry a single device with the technology that can enable you to tailor a room to your tastes as soon as you step into it. IoT can allow a guest to set their preferences to even the smallest detail, such as the setting of the shower, the settings of the treadmill at the gym, and the temperature of the room. And if you are a returning customer, the system will remember your preferences and immediately revert to them."
However, while Harnisch says that technology is a great enabler, hotel operators will need to be careful about selecting the friction points that need to be addressed. Sometimes, a solution to fixing a minor problem can end up costing a lot more than the problem itself. In addition, he cautioned that it was important to keep the human touch in the hospitality industry.
Vincent Ball, VP for Product Innovation at Nytec, also spoke about connected devices and how they can transform the industry. During his session, he presented a special case study on the world's largest deployed IoT-based guest experience platform created for Carnival Cruise Line.
"We turned a cruise ship into a virtual smart city at sea. It is the largest most extensive IoT deployment in the world, and at the heart of it is the Ocean Medallion - a wearable that is waterproof, with no buttons and which does some amazing things. We touched every part of the customer journey and operations, making it a frictionless experience for guests. We installed over 7,000 sensors on the ship, designed and engineered the hotel room door access, and secured transitions and personalised experiences for each guest. Added to that were 700,000 feet of cables, 1,000 readers and 3,000 touch displays," he said.
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