Hospitality Sector has Always Been Slow in Adapting Technology: Manav Thadani

Speaking at BW Hotelier Third Indian Hospitality Awards and Summit 2018, Manav Thadani, Founder-Chairman, Hotelivate, addressed some of the important elements of the sector—how to deal with the market forces and what will survive in this constantly evolving world of technology.

EVER WONDERED how hotels, motels and other hospitality businesses occupied a fairly simple space in people’s lives—they were a place for guests to lay their heads away from home. Not anymore! With the ever-evolving technological dimensions in the hospitality sector, there has been a sort of disruption for many brands. Soon there will be a time when one can see robots vacuuming the room, driverless cars for airport pickups, room service to self-ordering restaurant menus, to mention a few.

Keeping the Summit’s theme in mind, “Dealing with Disruption”, and speaking at the inaugural session of BW Hotelier Third Indian Hospitality Awards and Summit 2018, Manav Thadani, Founder-Chairman, Hotelivate, addressed some of these important elements of the sector, how to deal with the market forces and what will survive in this constantly evolving world of technology.

“Technology is in a constant state of evolution, and the hospitality industry needs to evolve simultaneously,” he said. “Hospitality sector has always been slow in adapting technology and we need to be prepared for the good times sooner or later.”

Thadani stressed on the fact that disruption will change the way industry works today and the market has been witnessing rapid changes in the past decade. “We have seen new technologies, online platforms and markets ushering in new initiatives of all sorts into the sector. Disruption can change the way businesses are traditionally run and at the same time create new opportunities,” he said.

He cited a few examples of the changes that are or could be visible in the way businesses run – focus on mobile check-ins, robots providing room service to self-ordering restaurant menus, new services using Artificial Intelligence in hotels whereby everything will be done by voice, and many more. “Such examples are unthinkable but are possible in the next 4-5 years and these initiatives will have an impact on the customer’s experience in the service sector,” he added.

Skill Force

Talent has become a driving force and talent management has gained more importance and increased popularity. While LinkedIn is widely used to hire skill force, another recruiting tool could work on video resume where one can look at the profile and hire him on the basis of communication skill and work performance in the video. The recruiter will get an idea of the skill set and domain knowledge of the person to be recruited.

Edutech firm Coursera helps in launching a career with hands-on training where one can learn how to pour wine or how to drive good revenue numbers on a daily basis.

By quoting the example of YOTEL Singapore, that has recently launched a pair of robots for the sole purpose of serving its guest, Thadani reiterated the fact that Artificial Intelligence can significantly reduce costs, eliminate human error and deliver superior customer experience. “One can witness—housekeeping robots clean rooms, airport pickup in driverless cars, planes running on auto-pilot— so jobs will be created and we will need people to create those robots. Hence, this interdependence will be a game-changer,” he feels.

Brand Opportunity

Thadani also warned the hotel companies on not to discount the impact of home-sharing. Brands like OYO, Airbnb will have an impact in the hotel business as they are competing with upscale hotels in the entire spectrum of hospitality. “Consumers are beginning to think differently. Just like AccorHotels acquired onefinestay—the ultra-uber luxury vacation experience, many other  companies are accepting the disruption by putting investment on both sides of the table.”

 Guest Experiences

Some of the hotel brands built in India are in the cookie cutter bracket so many owners have lost the plot on how to build a hotel. “It is important for a hotel to tell a story. In many ways guest experience is becoming phenomenal and new properties like Andaz in Delhi and W in Goa are picking the trade as they have a story to tell. We need to learn from brands like Marriott’s Moxy— fun and vibrant and Accor’s JO&JOE that creates cool, affordable and a new kind of hospitality with ever surprising design, events and talents. Even Ginger Hotels built their own website for reservation and saw reservation revenue jump up to 30%. Most hotels do not utilise technology in the way it should be and therefore in future such brands need to be cautious and be future-ready,” he points out.

 Future ready

“The fact that Artificial Intelligence has disrupted businesses clearly explains the reason why it is important to be prepared for this change and be smart in adopting this change,” points out Thadani. “Robots will work like humans and humans will create robots. But the need of the hour is to adopt this change as the hospitality sector has always been very slow in adapting technology,” he said.

Thadani spoke about his new brand Hotelivate – specializing in hospitality services and related industries – and how it is challenging the status quo. “My experience of more than 20 years in the industry made me come out of my comfort zone and start a new concept which will offer more localised as well as global content,” explained Thadani who plans to open offices in other parts of Asia very soon.

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