Sunday, July 14, 2024

It’s crucial to balance service with technology: Hitec Dubai

Laurent A. Voivenel, Senior Vice President – Operations and Development, Europe, Middle East, Africa and India; and Group HR and Talent Development, Swiss-Belhotel International, participated in a panel discussion at HITEC Dubai 2024. The panel ‘Showdown: Owners vs. Operators – The Synergy for IT Excellence in Hospitality’ took place at the Hotel Show.

During the discussion, Laurent highlighted the importance of balancing service excellence with the integration of emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain, Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR). He emphasised that while technology plays a crucial role in enhancing operational efficiency and guest experiences, it must be balanced with the right service to achieve the best outcome in hospitality.

Laurent said, “At Swiss-Belhotel International, we adopt a data-driven approach, analysing data from various sources like PMS, CRM, and guest feedback to pinpoint areas for improvement. This ensures that our tech investments translate into enhanced operational efficiency and an elevated guest experience.” A notable example of technology streamlining operational processes is the integration of AI. This has allowed Swiss-Belhotel International to provide personalised guest services, enhance overall guest experience, and achieve significant cost savings and improved efficiency.

Addressing the alignment of owners and operators on tech decisions, Laurent noted the diverse perspectives among owners, with some viewing technology as an investment and others as an expense. He highlighted Swiss-Belhotel International’s collaborative approach which involved understanding both perspectives. “It is important to align technology investments with strategic goals to ensure hotels achieve both the return on investment and operational benefits.”

Laurent also discussed how Swiss-Belhotel International stays ahead in the rapidly evolving tech landscape through effective governance, continuous training and strategic partnerships.

Laurent stressed, “At Swiss-Belhotel International, structured IT governance includes cross-functional steering committees, project management teams, and regular review cycles. Best practices such as setting clear KPIs and maintaining transparent communication channels are essential for success.”

Looking ahead, Laurent identified emerging technologies such as AI, IoT, Blockchain, VR, and AR as key to driving the future of hospitality. To remain competitive, hoteliers must focus on adopting and integrating the latest advancements in their operations. However, he advised fellow hoteliers to balance technological innovation with operational practicality and service, ensuring that technology enhances rather than overshadows the personal touch that is central to hospitality.

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