TheHotel Technology Conference (HotelTech) –Asia’s only dedicated platform for hotel CIOs, CTOs, Information Officers and E-commerce Directors – welcomed 25 speakers, more than 150 hoteliers and 1 world-renown robot in Singapore on October 22. Organized by international conference powerhouse Questex Hospitality Group, the conference brought hotel technology leaders on a journey to exceed guest expectations and empower internal efficiency.
Anthony Wai, Regional SE Director – APAC from Aruba Networks (an HP Company) opened the conference with the keynote “How to Enhance the Guest Experience?” The presentation explored various innovations that hoteliers could leverage and capitalize on, including internet access, proximity marketing and mobility. “Guest satisfaction score is affected by their wifi experiences,” said Wai. He further cited network architecture, management, dynamic guest access management, remote support and applications as top consideration points in implementing mobility solutions.
In the Mobility Panel, a well-rounded group of stakeholders discussed how mobile technology impacts guest experiences. Leading the discussion, Marriott International VP information Technology, Asia Pacific Martin Bookallil commented that Marriott is all over mobility, having recently launched a real-time chat channel as well as realized mobile booking channel as a revenue driver. Marina Bay Sands Senior Vice President – Marketing Maunik Thacker pointed out the importance of incentivizing guests to download and use the hotel mobile app. “Entice people; create value for the guests along the way,” said Thacker. “Marketing is as important as technology. Tell guests what the technologies could do,” agreed Robert Honerkamp, Director Network Operations, DOCOMO interTouch. SilverNeedle Hospitality Senior Vice President, Information ServicesSudhir Abdul Rahman noted that staff adaptation and buy-in is also essential to the success of hotel mobile apps.
At the Internet Access Panel, panelists agreed that bandwidth provisioning is essential and a freemium model is the direction. Constance Hotels and Resorts Chief Information Officer Roshan Koonja suggested hoteliers to use tiered model as well as work with internet service providers (ISP) for flexible bandwidth in resort settings. ANTlabsPte Ltd Product Director Toh Teck Kang urged hoteliers to rethink bandwidth management. “Hoteliers should set how much bandwidth per guests, not devices,” said Toh. “Now you can predict how much bandwidth you need.” When asked about TripAdvisor, Premier Inn Southeast Asia Head of Information Systems, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants InternationalJudyantoGunawan commented that it gives good indication of the internet services at their hotels, as compared to their competitors.
Ken Kline, Senior Director of IT & Security APAC, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group presented a Myth Buster session on low guest satisfaction for internet access. Based on Kline’s research, bandwidth is not as important as internet access points. Having commercial access points and branded high-speed internet access (HSIA) providers both contribute to higher guest satisfaction. As such, hoteliers may justify the investment for better wifi infrastructure because of the impact on satisfaction and hence revenue.
A panel of hotel chief information officers debated the value of having a preferred technology vendor list. Tony Yeoh, InterContinental Hotels Group VP Global Technology AMEA cited standardization, consistency, integration and reliability as primary reasons for having a mandatory list of vendors. Travelodge Hotels (Asia) Pte Ltd. VP Information Technology & Systems Tim Waterhouse disagreed. “For particular brand, functionality or integration requirements, we should just have the requirements,” said Waterhouse. For Raymond Dumanauw, VP of Hotel Technology and Systems, HPL Properties Pte Ltd, the need for preferred vendors depends on the systems. “For critical systems, hoteliers should not take risk. For other systems, such as hardware, procurement decisions should be based on performance specifications,” said Dumanauw. IGB Corporation Berhad Senior General Manager – Group IT Tony Wong concurred, “Technology is moving so quickly. We cannot rely on a fixed list of vendors.” Wong, who works for hotel owners, also noted that he needs to deliver value to ownership and it could be challenging for him to justify purchasing from preferred vendors when they charge premium over non-preferred ones.
For the first time ever, Hotel Tech incorporated an interactive roundtable session. Led by Tony Lee, Vice President, Business Process &Infocomm Systems, The Ascott Limited, attendees discussed various hot hotel technology topics including generating ROI on technology, differentiation hotels through technology, the roles of TV and telephones, as well as staff adaptation.
Relay, the state-of-the-art robot designed for autonomous delivery of items between people, participated in Hotel Tech, marking its Asia debut. Relay formed an integral part of the HotelTech program, fetching amenities for delegates in the refreshment area and presenting gifts and drawings during the conference.
Other heavyweight speakers include Gregory Spicer, Chief Executive, Xn Hotel Systems; Michael Lee, Former Chief Information Officer, Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts; John Lim, CISA CISM CGEIT CRISC, President, ISACA Singapore Chapter; Steve Cousins, CEO, Savioke; Andrew Khoo, Director of Business Development and Operations, ABR Holdings Limited; Doug Carr, Executive Director of Distribution, FRHI Hotels and Resorts; Melpo Wong, Director of Digital Distribution, Dorsett Hospitality International; Brijesh Paleri, Director, Sales Automation and Lead Prospecting, Asia Pacific, Starwood Hotels and Resorts; Tejveer Singh Bedi, Group Revenue Director, Park Hotel Group; Devdutta Banerjee, Director, Revenue Management & Distribution, Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts; and Declan Monahan, VP Sales, Asia, Fourth.
HotelTech 2015is a partner event of TravelRave, Asia’s most influential travel trade festival.TravelRave 2015 provides a dynamic platform for business leaders and industry professionals to convene, share knowledge and insights, network and discover new business opportunities and celebrate Asian tourism at its best.
HotelTech will return to Singapore in Oct 2016.