Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President, Operations and Development for the Middle East, Africa and India, Swiss-Belhotel International, participated last evening in the kick-off meeting of the advisory council for 2017 HITEC Dubai. The objective behind the high level meeting was to define and outline an agenda for HITEC Dubai based on the rapid innovations in technology and the specific needs of the Middle East region, especially Dubai, in order to keep up with the expectations of international travellers. The advisory council for the mega event also includes representatives from leading hospitality brands in the region including Jumeirah Group, Al Habtoor Group, Marriot International, Hilton Worldwide, Rotana Hotels & Resorts and Four Seasons Hotels among others.
HITEC is the largest hospitality technology show for hotels worldwide and it is going to take place for the first time in the region organised by Naseba in Dubai on 14th and 15th November, 2017. The advisory council members discussed in detail many pressing topics such as emergence of Airbnb as a distribution platform, advancements in property management system, robotics, cloud technology, data analytics, etc.
During the discussion Laurent highlighted a number of key issues that need to be addressed. He stressed, “First and foremost it is important for technology providers to understand that while, as hotel operators, we all wish to move in the direction of smart hotels adopting the latest advancements in technology, it is not always easy to convince owners to make the necessary investments in that direction nor are the guests willing to pay any extras. So how can we make technology affordable both for the investor and consumer?”
Laurent believes HITEC could also be a great platform to directly ask the customers ‘what is it that they need in a hotel?' He stated, “We are not here to train the customers. As hoteliers we are here to deliver on their expectations and give our customers what they want. Speed is perhaps the single most important thing that is necessary at every step of a guest's journey. Right from the moment he makes the booking to when he steps into a hotel. And this is where technology plays a critical role in enabling seamless connectivity and mobile integration. Technology makes it possible to check-in with Apps, have keyless room entry, control lighting, room temperature, TV, curtains and wake-up call with a single smart device.”
He added, “We operate in smart cities such as Dubai, hence our hotels need to be smart too. Intuitive technology is certainly moving fast. For example it allows us to anticipate the needs and desires of our guests to the extent of monitoring blood pressure, sleep patterns and stress levels and accordingly adjust music and lighting”.
Speaking about cyber security, Laurent stressed, “When it comes to technology hundred per cent security does not exist anywhere. IT loopholes are everywhere. However, there is a basic that needs to be ensured in terms of security when it comes to data protection, payment gateways and sharing of information and platforms with third party solution / application providers.”
Laurent concluded, “Ultimately, technology should be for well-being of people. It should be simple. It should not be complicated like we hoteliers make it”.