SINGAPORE – Check in your flight online? Click! Check into the hotel through your mobile device? Click! Enter your room or order room service with your mobile device? These actions are now a click or tap away, as the hospitality sector moves to embrace technological advances and look into ways to engage their customers before, during and after their stay.
In a report on the fast-rising adoption of technology among travellers and companies in the hospitality sector, trends in mobility and social media in particular are creating opportunities for the sector. Embracing technology has also enabled companies such as hoteliers to level up guest engagement and operational efficiencies.
Mr. Harbans Singh, founder of UbiQ and returning exhibitor at the HospitalityTechnology exhibition at FHA2016 (Food&HotelAsia2016), organized by Singapore Exhibition Services, gave his take on technological trends in Asia and their impact on hospitality players in Asia.
Quick and nimble wins the race
Two technological trends that are catching on in Asia are mobility and cloud computing. Asia has the largest number of mobile users in the world, hence, the move to mobility is more rapid here than in other parts of the world. Consumers are being trained daily by different business to be able to use their mobile devices to transact online and hence, the role of the device is evolving from one which just makes calls to one today, which allows you to run your entire business as well. This trend is growing even more rapidly and all businesses are racing to catch up with this phenomenon. Hotels need to address the need for mobility and the ability for their guests to operate their mobile devices, which include laptops, tablets, mobile phones within the hotel premises. Good Wi-Fi is of importance in most guest buying decisions today as a result of this.
Today many software applications are being deployed in the cloud. This essentially means that the software is no longer installed on computers within the premise but instead, is located in a remote third party data centre and accessed via the web. This enables users to access from anywhere and also enhances collaboration within the organisation. Hotels would subscribe to this service at a lower monthly cost and this helps hotels to reduce their capex investments for infrastructure and hardware. At the same time, when the demands for capacity and bandwidth increase within the hotel, cloud systems are able scale easily at minimal additional costs. Hence, hotels need to be aware that this trend is significant and future technology buying decisions should weigh applications that can be hosted on the cloud.
Hospitality = technology + service
Asian hoteliers need to understand the needs of their guests better! It is no longer like the old days where hospitality was purely dependent on service. Today, hospitality is a combination of technology and service.
Many travel reports have highlighted the needs of today’s traveller, both the leisure and business segments. One of the key requirements in most guest buying decisions today is the availability of good Wi-Fi within the hotel. This is because today’s traveller is highly dependent on being able to connect to the world from their own mobile devices when they are traveling, which can be a computer or the mobile phone, tablet, etc. Hence, apart from normal guest service, the technology offerings in a hotel today add to the Guest Experience factor. Guests today want to have a seamless technology experience which there are used to at home or other environments and which continues when they check into a hotel.
Hence, hotels need to be able to evaluate the technologies which make a difference for their customers and this also includes the in-room experience, such as TV and entertainment, door lock security, telephone, etc. Other technologies also come into play in being able to address the stress points in hospitality service for the guest and being able to offer services which allow for enhanced guest experience. This includes the ease of making a booking, being able to check-in and check-out, the in-house stay experience and so on. There are many hospitality software solutions which address these needs but the hoteliers must firstly be willing to learn and understand the new trends and secondly, be willing to invest in these technologies which enable enhanced guest experience.
Working with technology, not against it
The hospitality sector is undergoing dynamic changes, especially with the increasing mobility among people, who are guests or working in the industry. I don’t believe that there is a differentiation between the different levels of hotels when it comes to applying the technology. In fact, smaller hotels are more technology aggressive in order to cut manpower costs compared to bigger hotels. On the other hand, bigger hotels have more money to spend on technology.
The key factor is the ability of the management to recognise this trend and do something about it. In many cases, we still have old dinosaur management in place which is the biggest obstacle in implementing this.
Expanding UbiQ’s reach in Asia
UbiQ focuses on Next Generation Solutions which allow our customers to ‘Enhance their Guest Experience’. We focus on providing a holistic approach to the guest experience touch points, using technology which is subtle and yet, friendly. All of these new technologies have been developed by UbiQ over the last five years and we have started deploying in various customer sites across the Asian region. For 2015 and 2016, UbiQ is expanding its operations further across Asia and also in other regions in the world as a result of the response which we have had for our new technologies.
Building market presence through FHA
UbiQ has always participated in trade events in order to create a market presence and also to reach the customers. This has worked well for us in many countries. In Singapore for instance, FHA, through its HospitalityTechnology exhibition, has always had a strong tech presence for many years. This is because all the major vendors recognised the importance of the show in reaching their clients. There is also a growing awareness amongst the tech vendor community in regard to FHA and the ability to reach new and potential customers by participating in the business event.
Showcase of technology at FHA
The HospitalityTechnology exhibition, a sold-out since June this year, has surpassed its borders at FHA2016 to meet demands for booth space from companies serving the hospitality sector. Besides UbiQ, companies such as Bartech Automatic Systems, EPoint Systems, Epson Singapore, Quicklabel Systems and many more have confirmed their participation.
Asia’s largest international food and hospitality trade exhibition and conference, FHA is a high quality platform for trade attendees to network and share their knowledge. The event offers a holistic experience with activities and an extensive conference held alongside the exhibition. FHA2016 is co-located with ProWine Asia 2016, the newest ProWein satellite event for Southeast Asia.