Expert OpinionsTravel Technology VR and other hidden tech driving hotel business By Industry Expert / Posted on 24 January, 2019 10:22 Jay Jhingran, general manager of The Continent Hotel Bangkok, shines a light on the technologies that lay hidden from the view of guests, but that can serve as strong enablers for hoteliers Jhingran: hotels must be careful when choosing technology In some ways, hotels today have hardly changed from those a hundred years ago. Guests will still walk into a lobby, check in at the reception, dine at the hotel restaurant and ask the concierge for city recommendations. Yet hidden from the guests’ view is a web of technologies that facilitate their stay from the moment they book to the moment they leave. Jhingran: hotels must be careful when choosing technology VR for sales presentations One of the most interesting pieces of technology that we employ is virtual reality (VR). We use an Oculus Go VR set that essentially allows travel agents, meeting planners and guests from around the world to view our rooms and facilities almost as if they were here. While PowerPoint files and images are all very well they cannot provide the same immersive experience that true VR can. Every hotel is unique, and all hoteliers will want to show off every nook and cranny to potential guests and agents, that is what Oculus Go allows us to do. Meeting planners and travel agents are able to travel throughout our hotel and view our facilities as if they were there. This matters because each agent will have their own requirements from the size and style of rooms, the size of the lobby, number of swimming pools to the shapes and sizes of the meeting rooms. Equipped with this new technology, we have already seen results. We have seen an increase in the number of travel agents visiting our property after viewing it through the VR headsets, site inspections and contracting has also improved. Agents are not going to spend their time viewing a hotel that they do not think fits the needs of their guests and the Oculus Go headsets allow us to bring the hotel to them first. When they do come and visit, they feel like they are returning to a hotel they have already visited! Training technology Oculus Go is not the only technology that brings results. We train our staff in language and upselling skills using Boost’s mobile learning solutions. Since we started using Boost we have increased upselling revenue by five per cent and have received positive online reviews on the quality of English language skills that our employees possess. This has also generated better relations with travel agents as they understand that our staff can speak the language of their guests – if their guests are happy then they are happy. Importantly as a leader, my employees are simply more confident and have acquired new language and upselling skills that they will take with them throughout their careers. Revenue management We also use LodgIQ as a revenue management tool which provides analysis of anonymous Big Data to extract revenue insights. This allows us to manage our room inventory in a much more efficient way. Importantly, it has improved our partnerships with travel agents as we are able to provide more rooms at more flexible price points. Technology does not (and cannot) replace good service, rather it must be seen as an enabler. General managers need to be careful when choosing what technology to employ. Sometimes, technology is at its best when it is hidden.