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Fri 2 Jan 2015 09:52 AM

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How can innovation improve the hotel experience?

The hospitality industry of the future should be as effortless for Dubai’s hotels as possible

How can innovation improve the hotel experience?

Have you ever wondered if innovation could actually feel effortless - in every sense of the word?

With number of visitors to Dubai expected to jump from 10 million to 20 million by 2020, the hospitality industry is going to need to keep innovating and reinventing itself if it is going to continue to position Dubai as the top luxury destination in the world.  But that innovation should not have to come at a high price, and it should not be disruptive to the guest experience today! The journey that we all promise the travelers who come to Dubai is more important now than ever.

Bringing new experiences and building the hospitality industry of the future should as effortless for Dubai’s hotels as possible. And in a lot of ways it is the role of technology, as the engine behind innovation, to help.

Today, technology is no longer about making sure services are continuous; in the last few years, the role of IT in the hospitality industry has evolved, and it is now at the center of not only the innovation of superior guest experiences, but also the engine driving revenue generation, profitability, and even the transformation of the entire business environment and services offered.

Luxury brands hope to complement the futuristic hospitality experience that is being championed by the hotel industry in Dubai, and within technology is one of the greatest opportunities for integration.  Let me put some of it in perspective.

Guests from all over the world are converging on the hotels of Dubai, and they bring with them very high expectations, which the industry works tirelessly to ensure we exceed. We provide an entire spectrum of services for these guests – but they require it at their fingertips, anytime and anywhere. We stream high-definition video, on demand, to guests while they are relaxing in their hotel rooms, and they expect the luxury of having it delivered to different members of their family, on different devices, while they stay with us. That degree of flexibility is fast becoming the definition of modern luxury, and it is quickly becoming the purview of our technology, as much as it is our expert service.

Where do we go from there? The world is changing and as leaders in the industry, we should aim to go beyond our guests’ expectations, anticipating their needs, the small touches that will make their experience a luxurious one, and the amenities that they will consider ‘above and beyond.’ As hoteliers, this is our challenge.

Imagine your guest could browse the stores of her favorite brand, selecting a dress, its color and size, and with live recommendations through an engaging session with an in store salesperson. What if that dress could be delivered to her hotel room by the hotel concierge, just in time to be donned for the evening’s event? This is a guest experiences that Dubai will offer its vacationers not far into the future. Imagine your guest browsing an in-room dining menu, and intelligently suggesting for him food and beverage choices based off on his demographic, reservation history, or rewards status.

This kind of a vision for the industry will be realized by a collective effort between service, marketing, and hotel staff, but it is on the shoulders of technology that luxuries like these will be established. The DNA of next-generation service lies within the hotel’s network, and IT practitioners in our business have a choice: they can treat technology as a crutch, required to deliver these services but expensive and challenging to use, or as a core foundation for the future of custom hospitality.

At Kempinski, we made that decision by, first, upgrading the capabilities of our hotel to match the requirements of the coming generation of services and applications. We chose a network that was flexible, super-powered, and simple enough to manage that we could make significant changes without overly burdening our team. Using that new network gives us the agility to install what our customers really care about: applications like remote services, intuitive guest experience platform, increased security, and an integration into other types of business like retail and third-party booking engines.

As a technologist and a hotelier for the last 15 years, I know which choice is needed, and effortless innovation is the result of my choice; trust me when I say innovation should be effortless. If the decisions that I make with our technology at Kempinski Mall of the Emirates result in the seamless, agile integration of these feature our guests will soon come to expect, it will be enough to maintain the leadership and competitive edge of all of Dubai’s luxury hotels. It may sound unexpected, but we IT practitioners have the choice of helping our hotels innovate effortlessly, or risk becoming quickly obsolete.

* Prasanna Rupasinghe is director of IT at Kempinski Hotels.

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Chris A. Riga 5 years ago

Great article Prasanna! Well written and makes perfect sense.

james 5 years ago

Good, and I would add more to this in that I have worked in a Luxury hotel and my contribution would more to what is more practical and hussle free. So many Guests have commended the Installation of Metro stations atleast ending at the entrace of many brands in Dubai...say from Hiltons, Fairmonts, Marriots Emirates etc and other destinations as Shopping Malls and iconic buildings.
One setback I have observed is though somehow connected, the connection has not ended at the right place that would as well separate hotels users and passers-by.
A place like World trade centre Metro station joining some hotels like Fairmont and Conrad would have hotel guests landing directly into the hotel entrance without crossing roads directly from the travellator or lifts with marked entrances, say Conrad Guests only, Fairmont guests only or both. Trade Centre is a beehive of activitives (MICE) and others with people using these hotels for meetings.
Hope this is a future trend to be adopted.