Hoteliers are in danger of relying too heavily on technology to provide a personalised service, according to panellists who spoke at the GM Leaders Conference.
The first session of the event, which took place on 3 May at W Dubai Al Habtoor City, explored how hotel operators can best utilise the huge volumes of guest information they collect through applications and social media.
David Simon, hotel manager, The Palace Downtown said that the flexibility guest data offers his team allows them to build a more personalised experience for the guest, but the key is training.
“I think technology today enables us to be much more flexible to cater to guest needs and this is a great advantage, but at the same time the human touch is very important so we need to make sure we have well trained staff to deal with the technology and the data generated by this.
“We should use the technology to train our staff, especially with Gen Z who are interested in this technology and find it natural to use it to provide a better guest experience.”
And while platforms such as TripAdvisor and Instagram allow hoteliers to listen better to guests, according to David Wilson, GM of Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah, problems arise when it comes to the variety of applications available for hotels to collect data internally.
Stephen Meredith, general manager, Steigenberger Hotel Business Bay believes this can cause problems.
He commented: “There is a bewildering array of applications that generate a lot of information but the challenge is taking this and translating it back to service on the floor.
“A lot of the software applications we look at are very good standalone applications but often they don’t tick all the boxes that you need, so we’re forced to look into multiple applications with a lot of overlap between them and this causes an ‘analysis paralysis’.”
And while technology can be useful for creating a more personalised experience, ironically, it can also have the opposite effect. According to Meredith, hoteliers must be “wary”.
He said: “Before, as a hotelier you were on the floor, you didn’t have all this information and you would phone up the guest the old-fashioned way. I think the danger is we’re losing that, which isn’t a good thing. I think we have to be wary of technology.”
Also speaking on the ‘Adapting to Changing Guest Demands’ panel were Francis Desjardins, general manager, Fairmont Ajman; Patrick Antaki, complex general manager, Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Fujairah and Al Maha, a Luxury Collection Desert Resort & Spa; and Guzman Muela, general manager, Time Oaks Hotel & Suites.
The event was presented by Rikan and supported by Platinum Sponsor, Du; Luxury Fleet Partner, Cadillac; Hotel of Choice, W Dubai Al Habtoor City; Associate Sponsor TSSC; Lunch Sponsor ResNet; Pulsar Foodstuff Trading and The Gourmet Olive Market, TCL, Lavazza-Eurocoffee, EP World, Electrolux, Assa Abloy and Isukoshi.