In many ways, St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort can be considered one of the resorts in the Maldives that’s taking a lead when it comes to technology. G. Rajasekaran has been serving as the senior IT manager of the resort since 2016. When he took up the position, the resort was in its pre-opening stage, hence he is responsible for developing the resort’s state-of-the-art IT infrastructure. This article first appeared in our print issue no. 3.
Hotel Insider: Among the resorts in the Maldives, St. Regis Maldives Vommuli stands out as a property that’s taking the lead in embracing digital transformation. Can we talk a little bit about what’s currently happening on the island in terms of technology?
G. Rajasekaran: We are using an iPad based guest room solution at St.Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort. The iPad technology offers an easy to use interface for guests to use room controls, television control, order food and much more.
Hotel Insider: With many technological features being already integrated into the design, in what ways are these helping in the overall management of the property?
G. Rajasekaran: The iPad solution integrates with the property management system, point of sale systems and other systems in the hotel to offer an integrated solution that is unmatched in the industry. The key features are light controls, air conditioning control, curtain open & close, television operation, in-room dining ordering, one-touch access to hotel services (concierge, housekeeping), Internet access on the TV and iPad, and room billing status.
Hotel Insider: Hyper-personalisation is a term that we often hear in correlation with the current digital trends in the global hospitality arena. Are there any observations you could share with us regarding this, as well as the impact of technology on guest experience?
G. Rajasekaran: Hotel properties are striving hard to provide guests with the most intelligent technology, ensuring maximum satisfaction, not just in rooms and suites, but also everywhere in the hotel. At the heart of modern guest engagement lies personalisation. No longer is it enough to just know your guest’s birthday. The next stage for guest engagement is to know the ages of their children, their favourite sports teams, where they like to go on holiday, and how active they are on social media.
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Hotel Insider: With hyper-personalisation and the use of big data comes the question of privacy and security. What are your thoughts on this?
G. Rajasekaran: Data security is an increasingly critical concern for hoteliers. Hotels are high-value targets for cybercriminals because they not only hold payment card information of guests, but also a wealth of other sensitive personal data that can be used to steal their identity. As a best practice, we do not store guest data in guest facing devices.
Hotel Insider: With chat bots and AIs, current global digital hospitality trends indicate a minimisation of human interactions with guests being able to get many services and information with a simple tap on a screen. What are your thoughts on this? And with these changes, to what extent do you think human interactions will remain an important aspect of hospitality?
G. Rajasekaran: One-touch is becoming the new mantra as customers look for an all-integrated system providing simple access. Today, guests wish to have a GUI (Guest User Interface), which provides direct access to them to use, control, choose and collaborate any traditional or old school methods of technology in hotels. A technology like iPad is a perfect example of a simple GUI, making guests feel more efficient and in-control of their surroundings and choices.
Hotel Insider: As globally, hotel brands are increasingly incorporating various technological innovations at their properties, to what extent do you observe this trend here in the Maldives?
G. Rajasekaran: We all know that the expectations gap between guests and hotel technology is virtually non-existent. Artificial Intelligence will rule the future hospitality technology in Maldives. Voice search is in its infancy but rapidly gaining popularity because it allows consumers to find what they want easier, faster, and most importantly hands-free.
Hotel Insider: Generally speaking, what sort of a role would you say technology is now poised to play within the tourism sector? Has this role evolved over the years?
G. Rajasekaran: Yes absolutely, industry experts agree that technology will completely reshape guest engagement in the hospitality sector, and the guests will drive this change. The key players in the hospitality industry are actively looking into new techniques to deliver the optimal guest experience.