HMH CEO Laurent A. Voivenel Speaks on How Technology has Given Local Brands Global Reach at Hospitality Technology Forum at Burj Al Arab Dubai
Laurent A. Voivenel, CEO of HMH – Hospitality Management Holdings, was among the leading speakers today at the Hospitality Technology Forum held at the Burj Al Arab Dubai. Addressing the exclusive gathering, Laurent made a special presentation on how technology is revolutionizing the 412 billion dollars global hotel industry. He stressed, “Technology is evolving fast and needs constant upgrades. We will have to keep investing in it, if we are to keep up with the big brands. And a whole lot of it would have to be in digital optimization, mobile booking apps and social media engagement. In Dubai alone 10,000 hotel rooms are in need of refurbishment by 2020 and technology upgrades will be a big part of it”.
According to industry statistics, globally 40% of hotels at any given moment are empty. However, technology driven hotels are getting top dollars.
With the rise of internet while the local hotel business has exploded, the share of big brands operating hotels have shrunk to 53% worldwide. Laurent said, “Today, we live in a world driven by technology. It is all about Internet of Things as currently 80 things connect to internet instantly. Guests therefore want seamless integration of mobile technology into their travel and that transcends into every aspect of our business – from booking flights to rooms and dining experience. 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. Intuitive technology 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 music and lighting are adjusted.
Out of 1.2 billion global travelers today majority are between 15 to 64 years and not all of them are tech savvy. Laurent said, “As hoteliers we need to cater to not just the Millennials but also Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Z. For some technology can be baffling, and it may not always have to do with age. Therefore, it is essential to have user-friendly, simple systems rather than complicated ones.
So what is it that guests really want in terms of technology and how do hotelier’s bridge this generation gap?
Laurent stressed, “The big change today is young travellers desire personalization ‘My Stay, My Way’. They want engagement be it through apps, web chat or social media. We have seen 87% increase in non-voice service engagement in last 5 years. High speed internet and seamless connectivity and integration with devices is basic now. We operate in smart cities, hence our hotels need to be smart too. A good example is Coral Al Madina Hotel which will open early next year and is being developed to be the first smart hotel in Madina equipped with the most advanced technology.”