In a dynamic world where technology is rapidly advancing, the hospitality industry is at the precipice of a transformative era. Embracing innovative technologies promises to elevate guest experiences, empower hospitality employees, and streamline operations. Rotana, one of the leading hotel management companies in the region with hotels across the Middle East, Africa, Eastern Europe, and Turkey, has recognized the potential of technology and is at the forefront of this revolution. In a recent interview with Thynk, Guy Hutchinson, President and CEO of Rotana, sheds light on the future of hospitality and emphasizes the need to break down silos to fully harness the benefits of technology.
Technology has revolutionized every aspect of our lives, and the hospitality industry is no exception. However, Hutchinson acknowledges that the industry has been somewhat sluggish in adopting technology compared to other sectors. While hospitality is traditionally focused on personalized human interactions, technology has the potential to complement and enhance these interactions, rather than replace them.
The key to leveraging technology lies in integrating it seamlessly into the customer journey. Hutchinson said, “We really see that integration as being something critical to the future. The real advantage that technology is providing is the ability to remove bottlenecks, the ability to move traditional pain points in the customer journey through hospitality.” The real advantage of technology lies in its ability to create a fast, efficient, and personalized journey for guests.
From the pre-arrival phase, arrival, stay, and departure, technology can create a customer-centric space. Guests will have the freedom to choose when they want human interaction and when they prefer self-service technology. By automating routine tasks and processes, you enable employees to focus on providing genuine hospitality, delivering exceptional service, and building lasting connections with guests.
Hospitality employees play a vital role in delivering memorable experiences to guests. By adopting technology that streamlines processes and reduces administrative burden, hospitality companies can empower their employees to perform at their best.
The traditional siloed approach to technology within the hospitality industry has often led to inefficiencies and redundant tasks. Hutchinson stresses the need for a more integrated and holistic approach. By breaking down silos and integrating systems, employees can access relevant information seamlessly, enabling them to provide personalized experiences and anticipate guest needs.
With technology handling repetitive tasks like booking confirmations, billing, and room service orders, employee members can dedicate more time to engaging with guests, understanding their preferences, and creating unforgettable moments. The result is a more satisfied employee, leading to improved guest satisfaction and loyalty.
“Empowering employees to actually do what really matters, which is talk to their colleagues, focus on the quality of the service, convert customers, provide service, talk to guests, then you're really, really completely empowering the hospitality environment in a different way.” – Guy Hutchinson, President & CEO Rotana
One of the most significant changes needed in the hospitality industry is the breaking down of silos when it comes to technology implementation. Hutchinson identifies this as a pressing challenge that the industry must address to remain competitive and relevant in the digital age.
Historically, hospitality companies have adopted large-scale global systems providers, each catering to specific business functions such as finance, procurement, or property management. While these solutions served their purpose, they often lacked seamless integration and interoperability. As a result, information silos emerged, hindering communication and collaboration between different departments.
"We see a much bigger focus on integration. In terms of how we manage our processes, just to be much more efficient and to be much more customer friendly." – Guy Hutchinson
However, the future of hospitality lies in creating a more connected and integrated ecosystem where technology systems work harmoniously together. Hutchinson envisions a shift from rigid systems to more flexible, agile, and adaptable solutions. Instead of investing in separate systems that do not communicate effectively, hospitality companies should focus on implementing technology that integrates with other systems, thereby fostering collaboration and data sharing.
The road to seamless integration and breaking down silos requires innovative thinking and solutions. While some larger hospitality companies may struggle to overhaul their existing infrastructure, smaller, more agile startups are well-positioned to lead the charge in the industry's transformation.
Startups have the advantage of being nimble and able to embrace the latest technologies without being weighed down by legacy systems. They can create innovative solutions that bridge the gaps between different departments and foster better collaboration. The goal is to create an ecosystem where data flows freely, and insights are readily available to all stakeholders, enabling informed decision-making and improved guest experiences.
Hutchinson emphasizes the importance of adopting a forward-thinking perspective, open to integrating disruptive technologies that challenge traditional norms. Startups that align with this approach are likely to gain a competitive advantage by addressing pain points in the industry and offering efficient, cost-effective solutions.
"The ability for a sales manager to do a sales call, sit in the cafe, have a cup of coffee, complete their sales notes, send a proposal to a guest, etc.… and do all that in minutes, this is groundbreaking in the space. The success we are seeing with Thynk has already inspired us to consider expanding the use of the system to other teams, such as the development team."
Rotana's partnership with Thynk, a technology provider specializing in sales CRM, exemplifies the company's commitment to breaking down silos within its operations. Hutchinson discusses how Rotana's search for a comprehensive and intuitive sales CRM led them to Thynk.
Traditionally, sales processes within hospitality have been disconnected from other departments. Thynk's innovative sales CRM powered by Salesforce offered a fresh perspective, seamlessly integrating with other aspects of the business, such as sales and catering creating a more holistic environment.
Rotana recognized the potential of Thynk's solution to enhance their sales team's productivity and deliver faster response times to potential guests. By automating processes like proposal generation and providing a user-friendly interface, Thynk's CRM empowered Rotana's sales employees to focus on building relationships and providing personalized services, rather than getting bogged down in administrative tasks.
The future of hospitality lies in embracing technology as an enabler, enhancing the guest experience, and empowering employees to excel in their roles. By breaking down silos and embracing seamless integration, hospitality companies can unlock new possibilities and deliver exceptional guest experiences. Rotana, with its forward-thinking approach and strategic partnerships like Thynk, is leading the way towards a more connected, agile, and customer-centric future in the hospitality industry. As other players follow suit, we can expect the industry to flourish, setting new standards for personalized service and technology-driven innovation.