Smart hotels on the rise in Singapore

Hotel innovation on the rise

Recent initiatives by the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) are spurring technology take-up in the hospitality sector at an unprecedented rate, with hotels in the city increasingly adopting new solutions ranging from service delivery automation to integrated mobile applications and virtual concierges.

With the revamping of Bayview Hotel into 30 Bencoolen, the hotel’s 131 guest rooms are now fitted with smart room control units that allow the operations team to monitor room statuses and be alerted by any room faults in real time.

Hotel innovation on the rise

Kevin Peeris, regional head, business development, Bayview International Hotels & Resorts, said: “(The use of technology) generates exciting opportunities to enhance productivity, increase effectiveness and create exceptional experiences for both staff and guests.”

Conrad Centennial Singapore uses eConnect, a similar system that “drastically reduces the time taken to solve issues by eliminating middle steps,” said Heinrich Grafe, the hotel’s general manager.

Both hotels are also looking at introducing automation to traditional hospitality processes.

Conrad Centennial Singapore is “exploring having a robot-operated linen distributor, which would ease the need for manpower in the housekeeping department”, Grafe said.

Peeris shared that 30 Bencoolen is looking out for solutions such as collaborative robots and robotic process automation.

Another area of technology the hotel is exploring, Peeris added, is integrated mobile applications.

Meanwhile, the 343-room Grand Park City Hall, scheduled to unveil the results of a revamp in 2H2018, is set to roll out fully-customised mobile application with functionalities such as mobile room bookings, room selection, mobile check-in, keyless entry and guest messaging.

A focus on technology and revamped rooms could deliver a “high-tech, high-touch” guest experience, said Elaine Heng, assistant director of marketing communications, Park Hotel Group.

Integrated app that allows keyless room entry

On a group level, the Park Hotel Group is also planning to pilot an Artificial Intelligence-powered Virtual Concierge Assistant (VCA), accessible on web and mobile starting next month. To be trialed on Park Hotel Alexandra’s website, VCA will be tasked with suggesting personalised recommendations and itineraries based on guest queries, as well as answering commonly asked questions.

VCA will be subsequently integrated onto social media platforms such as Facebook Messaging and rolled out groupwide in 2H2018.

M Social Singapore and Singapore’s two Hotel Jen properties employ autonomous service delivery robots, and the former also welcomed a robot that can cook eggs.

STB’s Ong Huey Hong, director, policy & planning group hotels & sector manpower, noted: “We have seen quite a lot of adoption (of robotics) in the last two to three years. Our first adoption was in 2015, and there was only one hotel that did a pilot. Now we have about 10 or 12 hotels committing or that have already adopted robotics.”

Hotels were initially concerned that robotics was “gimmicky”, but pilot programmes have since proven that robots can “enhance customer service and improve productivity”, Ong added.

With the rise of smart technology, STB and the Hotel Innovation Committee, led by the Singapore Hotel Association, will chart a roadmap for the hospitality industry to transform into “Smart Hotels” through the Smart Hotel Technology Roadmap.

This will identify the next-generation system capabilities such as facial recognition at check-in and payment wallets.

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