Arabian Hotel Investment Conference

April 2020 | United Arab Emirates

Content Library

Synchronised for Success: Emaar Hospitality Group

Posted on February 20, 2019

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Integration service delivery for the next generation of guests: Olivier Harnisch, Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Hospitality Group

Oxford Dictionaries defines ‘synchronisation’ as the ‘operation or activity of two or more things at the same time or rate.’ It is in a literal sense that the hospitality industry can be considered as already a frontrunner in the art of synchronised operations.

Different functions – from front office to back of the room services – are all efficiently integrated to ensure that the guest receives seamless service that helps build loyalty and sustained revenue.

The traditional values associated with hospitality – of delighting guests and giving them a home away from home experience – continue to define the industry, and if any function falls behind, the entire ‘customer journey’ is compromised leading to loss of face for the hotel operator and disgruntled guests.

While appearing simplistic, the integration of services to make every guest’s visit memorable is at the heart of our industry – and that is what defines our success.

But there are new challenges – and that means, we must evaluate the hospitality landscape and how we ‘synchronise’ our operations from fresher perspectives. Old rules and formulaic approach would only take us so far – the last mile of the customer journey can only be enhanced if we look at how we function from the viewpoint of our guests.

Let us look at the two big shifts that we must prepare ourselves for: The first, no points for guessing, is the digital transformation that we are witnessing in every walk of life. Digitisation has altered the rules of hospitality – not as much in the ground-rule of ensuring a warm, personalised and attentive service – but in how we prepare ourselves to welcome the new digital-savvy customer.

In the digital era, word-of-mouth has become a prominent force to reckon with – not in its literal spirit – but in its digital counterpart – the online reviews. Guests do not hesitate to make their displeasure (less so, their delight, which we must assume is human tendency to amplify the bad over the good) known in public forums, which are pored over by guests before they make hotel or restaurant bookings.

Everything online is also social, meaning, it can be shared and disseminated so fast that no hotel operator can be caught napping while a negative review is doing the round. That calls for responsiveness and agility – not only to address the guest’s concerns but to take corrective measures where needed.

Digitisation, however, also brings tremendous potential for positive change. By reimagining every touch point of the customer journey through a digital focus, we can effectively meet their aspirations as well as surprise and delight them.

The second key shift is the extraordinary intersection we witness today in terms of our guest profile. While the new era of our guests – the Millennials - is young, tech-savvy and know what they want, we also need to look at the Baby Boomers and the Gen Z, each with their specific interests and expectations from a hospitality provider.

This means, while evolving to meet the needs of the new generations, we also need to find that delicate balance, where we do not alienate those who have not embraced the digital world and seek hospitality for its tried and tested norms. We must continue to set exceptional standards in everything we do because that is fundamental to our industry and indeed our raison d'être.

Alongside, we must leverage the digital era to tap the enormous opportunity it opens for our industry to grow. It is true that online travel agencies and new models of hospitality have emerged.

But, we have the force of history on our side. From the inns of ancient Rome and medieval Europe to highly evolved hotels of today, we have witnessed change and responded to them in good measure. That is why the key task before us to succeed would be to integrate every function in as seamless a manner as possible – by using the two powerful tools of genuine customer service and efficient digitisation.

The word hotel has its origins in the French hôtel – and its etymology lies in the more profound world ‘care’ than ‘accommodation.’ If we focus on that magical word, care, there is no stopping us in our onward journey.