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Transforming the legal profession: smart solutions to drive hospitality’s next tech revolution

Legal departments could be on the verge of a digital revolution however, as cutting-edge solutions create new ways of working.

Technology is transforming every aspect of the hospitality industry, from online booking, guest apps and in-stay experiences to management tools, industry analytics and more. One crucial area that is often overlooked however, is a hotel’s legal department. While this is undoubtedly one of the most important parts of a company’s structure, many legal processes and procedures are still completed manually.

Legal departments could be on the verge of a digital revolution however, as cutting-edge solutions create new ways of working. This is the view of Nisha Menon, Radisson Hotel Group’s General Counsel for the Asia Pacific, who believes that hospitality companies that embrace legal tech could become much more efficient, while reducing the risk of significant, unforeseen expenses.

Based in Singapore, Nisha oversees all legal, employment, disputes and corporate governance issues for Radisson Hotel Group in Asia Pacific, including hotel agreements for the portfolio. With almost 15 years of experience as a legal advisor, she has been involved with major projects, cross-border deals and joint ventures across Asia Pacific.

With such extensive expertise, Nisha understands how the current system of hotel contracting and contract management is a hidden pain point for hotel groups. Issues such as a lack of uniformity and confusing wording in documents can cause a company to lose between 5% and 40% of value on any given deal – a staggering statistic that becomes even more amplified for a group that deals with hundreds of management or franchise agreements.

By employing Artificial Intelligence (AI) however, Nisha believes that the hospitality industry could eliminate these inefficiencies. AI-enabled contracting software could create algorithms to recognize patterns and identify anomalies, enable data driven pattern efficiencies which can be applied to business, making documents more standardized, easier to organize and reducing the risk of human error. Automated solutions could sort through large volumes of documents, read them quickly and accurately, and extract and analyze data. The process of data analysis is an important one; a multinational operator with a large number of partnerships, such as Radisson Hotel Group, could easily keep track of any terms and clauses that could contain concealed costs and importantly support to enable operational efficiencies.

“Accurate legal contracting is critical for any hotel company, but especially for a major player like Radisson Hotel Group, which is in the process of exponentially expanding its portfolio. As part of our digital transformation strategy, we are examining how we can manage contracts more effectively, inspect their contents and discover any potential issues that may cause problems for either party further down the line, while supporting optimal application of team resources, giving individuals the right tools to optimize their roles and enhance productivity.” Nisha commented.

Radisson Hotel Group is currently undertaking a historic expansion drive, focusing on Asia Pacific’s exciting emerging markets. Overall, the company expects to increase its portfolio exponentially in the coming years. Target markets include China, India, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and New Zealand, which will see the introduction of a wide range of industry-leading brands and innovative new concepts.

This is running in parallel with the group’s digital transformation, which was implemented in 2019 and featured the launch of EMMA, an advanced global technology platform. This is already moving the business forward, by allowing Radisson Hotel Group to harness big data and improve every aspect of its operations, with an integrated system for property management, reservations, distribution, sales, catering, loyalty programs and more. The group is also piloting new guest experiences, such as online check-in/out, and ways of boosting productivity, including revenue management and pricing tools.

For Nisha however, the introduction of smart solutions to support legal teams could have as big – if less obvious – an impact on the hospitality industry as online booking tools and mobile apps.

“The legal profession needs to embrace technology. Failure to do so could have serious implications for a company, including reduced productivity, looser security and the danger of human error, which, in the worst-case scenario, can lead to malpractice suits. With so many manual, time-consuming procedures potentially being automated, legal teams would be free to focus on other important work. It really is an exciting time,” she concluded.

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