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Smart Hotels

New measures to promote technology adoption and create better jobs across hotels

Author: Theodore Koumelis / Date: Tue, 11/13/2018 - 10:03
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The efforts aim to boost productivity – which has grown about five per cent annually since 2015 – and create higher value-added jobs to attract and retain talents in the hotel industry. 

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB), together with the Hotel Innovation Committee (HIC) led by the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA), launched several projects today as part of continuous efforts to encourage technology adoption and innovation by hotels, as well as improve job processes across the industry. The efforts aim to boost productivity – which has grown about five per cent annually since 2015 – and create higher value-added jobs to attract and retain talents in the hotel industry. 

Towards Smart Hotels: Presenting a Guide and a Directory 

Launched by the HIC with the support of STB, the Smart Hotel Technology Guide outlines the vision of a smart hotel and identifies the relevant technologies for hotels to realise this vision with a focus first on front-of-house operations. 

The vision of a smart hotel is this: imagine a hotel where guests could check-in independently and access their room through a smart device, and a robot could deliver luggage to the room. 

A video analytics system supporting facial recognition could zero in on a guest leaving the hotel with a suitcase and send an electronic bill to the guest to complete the check-out process. Food and drinks consumed from the minibar could be automatically computed in the bill, eliminating the need for a manual stocktake. 

Such a fuss-free check-in and check-out process is no longer a pipe dream for hotels as many of the technology solutions required are already available in the market today. These scenarios, among others, are captured in the guide. Case studies of hotels and organisations that have successfully implemented such innovative solutions are also featured in the guide.

To facilitate link ups between hotels and technology vendors, the HIC also launched the Hotel Technology Directory. To date, more than 70 local and foreign vendors with solutions ranging from facial recognition to Internet of Things can be found on the directory, providing hotels with a one-stop portal to source for technological solutions and start their transformation journey.

The guide and the directory were developed based on feedback from focus group discussions and interviews conducted over the year with industry stakeholders representing more than 40 international hotels, local chains and boutique hotels. The stakeholders shared their views on creating the ideal guest experience in a smart hotel, as well as their considerations on technology adoption. USA-based non-profit trade association Hospitality Technology Next Generation also contributed to the development of the guide. 

​"While productivity in the hotel industry has been increasing over time, we want to support the industry to boost productivity further and manage labour shortages more effectively. It is critical for the hotel industry to look beyond the present and learn to innovate and be future-ready," said Ms Ong Huey Hong, STB's Director of Hotels and Sector Manpower. 

"It is heartening that many hotels are already striving to do so. However, they may have limited capacity to explore and evaluate the myriads of technological solutions that are available in the market. Hence, the guide and the directory are very good starting points for solution providers to showcase their offerings to the industry and for hotels to search for smart solutions that best meet their needs," she added. 

Ms Margaret Heng, SHA Executive Director, said: "Technology has bred a new generation of empowered guests, with evolving consumer preferences and rising expectations. These guests want speed and convenience, and as they become increasingly technology savvy and well-informed, their expectations will continue to evolve and rise over time. Hence, the hotel industry must stay relevant by recognising and adapting to key technology trends. This will help hotels to navigate operational and business challenges." 

Pitching in Process: Sourcing Innovative Solutions 

In April, HIC organised a Hotel Innovation Pitch for technology vendors and research institutions, sourcing solutions to address critical pain points in the housekeeping and food and beverage (F&B) departments, thus rendering these jobs less onerous for hotel employees. 

A total of seven proposals – submitted by six participants – were shortlisted. Proposed solutions ranged from robots for banquet set-up to assistive devices for bed-making. Today, these solutions are ready to be developed and piloted in hotels.

Looking Forward 

Next year, STB and HIC will continue to support hotel transformation by developing a Smart Hotel Technology Guide for back-of-house operations. A new Hotel Innovation Challenge will be held to seek innovations in emerging solutions in key areas such as big data, blockchain technology and sustainability, as well as continue to source for new solutions to support housekeeping and F&B jobs.

To step up efforts in helping the hotels improve current operations, raise productivity, redefine job roles and create higher value-added jobs, Workforce Singapore, in partnership with STB and SHA and supported by the Food, Drinks and Allied Workers Union (FDAWU), has embarked on a Job Redesign Project to develop a Job Redesign (JR) Toolkit for the hotel industry. Slated for publication in the first half of next year, the JR Toolkit will complement the hotels' transformation journey by helping them identify opportunities for job redesign. 

Alongside these efforts, the new Advisory Committee on Human Capital Progressive Practices for Hotels, led by SHA and supported by STB, WSG, FDAWU and NTUC's Hospitality and Consumer Business Cluster, will also work with the hotel industry to develop more progressive human resources practices to equip the industry with a future-ready workforce. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theodore Koumelis

Co-Founder & Managing Director

Theodore is the Co-Founder and Managing Editor of TravelDailyNews Media Network; his responsibilities include business development and planning for TravelDailyNews long-term opportunities.