Hotel Insider talks with Ooredoo’s chief commercial officer Hussain Niyaz on different topics ranging from exciting new products for the hospitality industry to how Covid is continuing to change the way business is done.
Hotel Insider: Can you tell us about some exciting products Ooredoo has specifically for the hospitality industry?
Hussain Niyaz: We’ve been transforming tech in tourism industry for a while now, we’ve helped resorts move out of traditional telecom services and expand their repertoire, focussing on smart solutions such as digital butlers, video conferencing and so on.
You have to bear in mind that major corporations come to the Maldives to have their board meetings and other business gatherings, sometimes with their clients. Resorts would contact us asking for temporary solutions and we thought it would be a good idea to have those solutions at resorts permanently. It could be a selling point for them.
Our latest product, one we’re very excited about, is our Data Centre in Hulhumale. We launched it last year and it is the Maldives’ sole dedicated data centre. It is a tier three ready facility, meaning it is more than adequate for big tech companies like Google and Facebook.
Hotel Insider: Could you explain what a data centre does for our readers who are not so familiar with its functions?
Hussain Niyaz: Basically, companies can come and host their solutions at the facility. For instance, Google wants to have a server in the Maldives. They can have one at our data centre and manage it remotely. And last year, we connected the data centre to a submarine cable from Sri Lanka.
Now, let’s move on to resorts again. We’ve seen that resorts have a dedicated IT department and server rooms. But today, most information is stored on the cloud. So, we are offering data hosting services to resorts, meaning instead of having and maintaining costly physical server rooms and large IT departments, they can use our facility and our people. They can have their resort management system at our centre and still use it seamlessly at the property.
For example, a leading bank’s server is hosted at our data centre. Their HQ is here in Male but their agents are elsewhere. So you don’t need to be physically close anymore, whether two points are connected in one building or across opposite ends of the country, it’s all the same now.
We also provide international connectivity to major international hotel chains, whose systems are based in a different region and country from where they are headquartered.
Hotel Insider: You must get asked this a lot but what do resorts stand to gain by partnering with you?
Hussain Niyaz: The biggest advantage for any customer, resorts included, would be that we are a truly international group with international standards. We come with new tech, essentially all possible smart telecom solutions that a resort could possibly want. Plus, we have very competitive pricing and we don’t let prices affect our quality.
Hotel Insider: Could you tell us about how the telecom landscape has changed post Covid?
Hussain Niyaz: The post-Covid landscape has changed a great deal, and it is continuing to change. We’re in the midst of doing a detailed analysis ourselves to fully understand where we are headed. We do know that the change is happening around the technology. Our lives seem to be more dependent on tech now, for instance, whether you work from home or study or even enjoy concerts. Things that used to be physical are now virtual. Our business meetings are virtual – back in the day, if you can’t book a meeting room there’d be no meeting but that situation seems laughable now.
It has also affected how people travel. People are travelling less on business now, it’s more for leisure.
We’re still researching the effects of Covid but we’ve seen that it has had a positive effect on productivity, we’re doing more with less.
Hotel Insider: Before we part, what are some things Ooredoo has in store for us? What’s going to happen in the near future?
Hussain Niyaz: There are plenty of exciting things going on right now, AI for instance. It’s going to become a greater part of our lives as we move ahead. We’ll be digitising shops, we’re moving things on to apps now. You could even get a SIM card right here and now – you order a SIM card and it will be delivered. We also have eSIM, as you may know, you just download a SIM like you might any other app, and this service is compatible with most phones released from last year onwards.
Also, we were approached by guesthouses saying that it’s difficult for their guests to get hold of SIM cards, and could we help them with that? So, we started giving out complimentary SIM cards to guesthouses that they can offer their guests as part of a welcome package. The cards have some data and activation is very easy. It’s proving very popular.
Hotel Insider: Thank you, Niyaz.