The techno touch Reviewed by Momizat on . The Think Turf in Mumbai had the panel deliberating on using technology to best enhance the guest experience at their properties. BY TEAM HOTELIER INDIA   The Think Turf in Mumbai had the panel deliberating on using technology to best enhance the guest experience at their properties. BY TEAM HOTELIER INDIA   Rating: 0
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The techno touch

The techno touch

The Think Turf in Mumbai had the panel deliberating on using technology to best enhance the guest experience at their properties. BY TEAM HOTELIER INDIA


Deliberating on the latest trends in hospitality technology – from in-room entertainment options to meeting room technology to effective use of social media – the recently held Think Turf forum, at the Sofitel Hotel, Mumbai, provided yet another opportunity for hoteliers and engineers to discuss operational profitability through digital intervention. The evening was initiated by the keynote speech from Sanjay Sethi, MD Chalet Hotels. He spoke about the changing interface manifesting itself amongst the upcoming generation of the millennial. With the pace of consumer technology moving at breakneck speed, Sethi stated that concepts such as digital concierge, biometric recognition, GPS tracking of services within the hotel premises, etc., are already being set into practice, to eventually eliminate the aspect of human interface completely from the hospitality experience. “Guests are not loyal to brands anymore. They are just loyal to benefits. Database management if organised in an optimum manner, would help hotels marginalise on an error-proof loyalty programme. Innovative strategies such as the aggregator model of Oyo Rooms and global movement towards the Airbnb platform are conspicuously disrupting the traditional hospitality practices. They are actually levelling the playing fields between branded and non-branded hotels today.”
Continuing the discussion on importance of technology, Babita Krishnan, editor, Hotelier India spearheaded a discerning panel discussion on the underlying need to maintain a balance despite the growing trend. Zia Shiekh, MD, Svenska Hotels said that, “A typical luxury five-star hotel will not have millennials coming and staying there normally; they would comprise of a very small percentage of the guest’s demography. Thus, hotels usually have individuals, who are probably not very accustomed to technology. Given this, the room’s functions need to address simplicity in operation, and not be overloaded with automation.”
Agreeing with the same Manish Sodhi, GM, Sahara Star, concured that, “With the constantly changing world of technology, the guest expectations are also changing. Hence, hotels have to evolve to stay up-to-date with current trends. However, it is best to keep some things basic – like the bathroom and room lights, master control, etc. I believe that while designing a hotel, one needs to consider the layout from the perspective of a global traveller. Guests such as VPs and CEOs, very often, get confused with control panels. Yet on the other hand, you have young crowd, who just take minutes to figure out the systems. Thus, as a hotel we need to strike a good balance addressing the demands of both the segments.”
Delving into the role that social media plays in enhancing guest experience, Sameer Sud of The Leela said that it is a two-way street – it helps hotel understand the profile of their guest and for guests to understand the facilities offered. Starwood’s Anurag Bhatnagar added that social media platform has also evolved as a huge marketing tool that provides useful insights to the hotel’s USPs. However, Shiekh pointed out that this can also backfire if not managed and controlled properly, “It’s a dangerous situation as one experience can really get amplified across the world, spreading like wild fire. There have been instances of guest trying to blackmail a hotel about posting certain things on such sites if not given discounts.”
Sharing their experiences Sodhi and Sud spoke about the advantages of their respective loyalty programmes; while Shiekh shared a recent experience where WhatsApp helped them close a booking while providing visual information of the guest. This helped the staff recognise the guest on arrival itself thereby rendering a wow factor. From the security perspective, the panel members agreed to the fact that technology has helped hotel develop a safe and secured environment; however, care needs to be taken to not invade into one’s privacy.
Puneet Sethi from Samsung, explained how each of their products are designed specifically to play the role desired by the hotels and their guests – whether it is to enhance the guest experience or generate data from across sources, Samsung technology is aimed at aiding operations. This fact was further underscored by the product presentation that followed the discussion. The evening saw the discussion continue over drinks and dinner, where everyone was seen exchanging experiences.

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