The HITEC Dubai team sat down with HITEC Dubai speaker, Marloes Knippenberg, Chief Executive Officer, Kerten Hospitality to discuss the pain point of the regional hospitality landscape, why it is important to stay up-yo-date with the latest technologies and what people can expect from attending HITEC Dubai this year.
Can you tell us more about what HITEC attendees can expect from attending HITEC Dubai?
I believe that attendees will learn a lot by attending HITEC – the technology sector is one that is developing very quickly, and the industry can only progress by discussing best practice. It’s also a great place to network and meet peers.
What do you think are the main pain points of regional hospitality industry?
In the region, I think the challenges are related to guest identity. We can aspire to the airline industry’s innovation around check-in, and how it manages guest expectations related to wanting to be more mobile and digital. Currently in the Middle East, the restrictions we face when it comes to check-in requires more manual processes. If we could figure out a way to overcome these challenges and validate guest identities, then we would be able to offer a much more seamless experience.
Why do you believe that keeping up-to-date in the latest technology is so important in this industry?
It’s important to the extent that technology is designed with the intent to deliver upon our vision. When it comes to Kerten Hospitality, first and foremost we are a hospitality company, so we have to deliver a hospitable experience and those experiences come from human to human interaction. It’s not necessarily that technology by itself is the foundation of what’s going to drive guests into our businesses but it’s the technology that we use to deliver the hospitality that will bring them into our doors.
In what ways does the hospitality industry in Dubai embrace technology? What are some examples of emerging technologies, and what impact do they have—or what roles do they play—for your company?
Dubai is a hub of innovation; the city is very welcoming of new technology and new innovation. It’s a great place to foster new ideas and accelerate implementing innovation. There’s a big ecosystem of incubators of startups and accelerators that do specifically want to tackle the challenges of the hospitality industry.
What are some current industry trends taking place in Dubai today?
The availability of technology in the hospitality industry is allowing boutique and niche brand operators, quite specifically, to serve their guests better. The hospitality sector is currently grappling with the issue of saving costs; however, the use of technology such as artificial intelligence fits into this movement and can help streamline processes, provide valuable insights into the needs and wants of guests, and optimize experiences.
What are some issues that you have encountered in the industry, and what are examples of real-world strategies you would implement to resolve these issues?
Data and systems are the main global issues. The industry as a whole has old fashioned systems that need to be enhanced to put data and functionality first. We have closed proprietary systems so the challenge in the hospitality industry is legacy and the cost of change. We are not one of the industries that can just replace or overhaul legacy systems every 10 years. Our challenge is that we have very old systems and we don’t have the money to rip them out and replace them.