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Mon 17 Mar 2008 04:00 AM

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An enterprising intelligence

As Enterprise Intelligence prepares to kick-start its operation in the region, Tech Talk dials managing director Stewart Ramlogan to chat about his room service experiences in Dubai.

As Enterprise Intelligence prepares to kick-start its operation in the region, Tech Talk dials managing director Stewart Ramlogan to chat about his room service experiences in Dubai.

What is Enterprise Intelligence?

The incorrect order was delivered 62% of the time.

The company was set-up by me and my co-director Rhonda Keskin with the aid of UK trade and investment.

Between us we have 30 years industry experience on the technical side - building, designing and consulting on prestigous projects for large corporate companies - and 40 years hospitality industry experience.

Enterprise Intelligence has been operating since 2005 and we have been researching the market globally and listening to the needs of the hotelier and guest. As a result, we are now ready to launch our product AS-1 (Advanced Services 1).

Our aim is to provide simple to use applications based upon‘one touch' functionality, which are unique, rich internet applications, designed not only to provide a superior guest experience but to provide the hotelier with new sources of revenue generation.

What products do you offer the hospitality industry?

We offer our AS-1 suite of products to cater for in-room sales, marketing and mangement. No installation is needed as all products are run using an internet browser. With AS-1 Sales and Marketing the guest not only gets a full description of your products and content but also a visual display, bringing your products to life to tempt your guest further.

Applications are accessed by security code and each individual application can be displayed in multiple languages. AS-1 Sales and Marketing can be displayed in Arabic while AS-1 Order Management is displayed in Polish for the same order process.

This is achieved using our optional Language Pack. All applications are designed with ease of use in mind but are functionally powerful, catering for disabled guests as well as guests who have had little computer knowledge or exposure.

What gap do these products fill in the hotel industry?

As a business traveller for more than 20 years I have found that when looking at room service in a foreign country I have to guess what a dish will look and taste like. More often than not there will be a communication problem with staff when asking for a description of the dish, ingredients or availability.

Most of the time the staff will have to put you on hold while asking the kitchen these questions and naturally the kitchen is busy, so a quick or correct response is rare.

During our visit to Dubai in November 2007, we ordered room service a number of times from five hotels and we compiled the following statistics: the order was delivered correctly and on time 17% of the time; there was miscommunication between ourselves and front-of-house 80% of the time; miscommunication between front-of-house and back-of-house 80% of the time; misunderstanding of the menu 40% of the time; the incorrect order was delivered 62% of the time; an undercooked food order was delivered 10% of the time; there was poor telephone customer service 87% of the time; and 83% of deliveries took more than 30 minutes.

The figures reflect accurately our experience of the in-room service provided and can be shown to highlight customer service and information issues.

When did you start operating in the Middle East?

The purpose of the visit to Dubai in November 2007 was to confirm our research on the growing hospitality market and to experience it ourselves as guests. The aim was to confirm our product would meet not only hotelier's needs but also the needs of the guests.

We felt that the Middle East would see the vast benefits of our product and, being early adoptors of leading edge new technology, our product would excite them. Initially, we are looking at Dubai and Abi Dhabi but will expand to other areas in the future. We are also talking to the tourist board in Egypt.

What is the role of the operation?

The role of the Middle East operation will be to make the hotel industry aware that there is a product like this out there, and to establish links with the hotel and hospitality trade so we may work together to advance the product and to completely satisfy the hotelier's and the guest's needs.

Our expansion plans are to initially offer our product to the Middle East so it is a benchmark for customer service and new technology for the world, and then move onto Africa, China and the United States. We feel as the Middle East has some of the most luxurious and technially advanced hotels in the world our product would be an ideal fit.

How do you plan to expand and build relationships in the Middle East?

We would like to present our product to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, as it tackles important areas they have highlighted, such as green issues, customer service, disabled guest care, health and safety and staff welfare.

We are also looking for two hotel partners to work alongside to further enhance, not only our product offering, but also their guest's experience and their own profile to the world, potentially increasing the hotel's revenue and efficiency at the same time.

After securing our two hotel partners we are planning to create Enterprise Intelligence Middle East so we will have a local point of contact and sevice to aid hoteliers in the Middle East and to gather information on current local needs to further enhance our products specifically for this market.

We also plan to use local computer server networks, which are on standby at present, so we will be able to offer our Middle Eastern customers the best and fastest service we can.

How do the needs of the Middle East hotel industry differ from those of Europe-based properties?

Through our research we have found that the Middle East is building at such a phenominal rate compared to Europe that the region would greatly benefit from a company like ours, which takes away the service and maintenance of a suite of products, that eases communications between guests, front-of-house, back-of-house and management.

As the Middle East tourist industry is reletively new compared to Europe the benefits of putting the customer first would greatly increase the number of guests choosing the Middle East instead of destinations in Europe, especially as air travel has become so affordable.

We have also found that placing features such as prayer times, the direction of Mecca and local courtesy information would be of great benefit to all guests in the Middle East, as religion plays a greater role in the culture than in Europe.

As a courtesy to the Middle East market, and out of respect for the culture, we will offer the aforementioned facilities within our AS-1 Sales and Marketing application to aid hoteliers and guests.

Do you plan to produce more products for the hotel industry?

We have a product (AS-2) in the wings, based upon our ‘one touch' functionality that caters to the needs of certification within the hotel industry.

The cost of certification is increasing and our product is built to alliviate some of these expenses, together with the ability to provide a centralised point for all certification metrics and information. AS-2 is built not only with the hotelier's needs in mind, but also the consultants who work within the field of certification.

Our product can be used with any type of certification, affording the hotelier the ability to use one application anywhere in the world to calculate, track and graphically report on any certification metrics information.

Configured initially for up to 12 hotels with 12 departments using up to eight different certifications, this will give the hotelier or associated consultant, the ability to display information from any hotel about any department's conformance to any question within a certificate, in real time. AS-2 will be launched in the summer of 2008.

To what extent do you think hotels are embracing the need for new technology?

Hoteliers will naturally implement solutions to keep their guests happy and enable them to run an efficient business, but through our experience embracing new soloutions is a matter of understanding.

The world of computer software can be a confusing place with so many ways of delivering solutions, solving problems and implementing these solutions, not to mention the integration of these new systems.

Companies sometimes forget that the hotelier has a business to run and guests to keep happy. This is why we only require an internet browser, hotel branding material and sales content. We do the rest and also manage the system using a 24/7 support line.

Uptake would be faster if solutions were simpler to use and implement, and were targeted towards the current needs expressed by hoteliers and the industry. This would afford the hotelier the opportunity to run his day-to-day business and not get involved in complex technical issues.

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