Want Consumer Loyalty? Get Smart About Hospitality Innovation!

At the recent 2015 HITEC event, the hospitality industry got a taste for industry highlights and overviews of things to come, and the event certainly did not disappoint. Among some of the more innovative solutions were concierge-style robots that provide more basic services like room service delivery, and of course NEC’s own Kylie!

Always top of mind for hospitality is customer loyalty. How do you reward those who are loyal to your brand? And how do you keep them loyal? One way is to ensure they feel welcomed and valued, as demonstrated through NEC’s VIP facial recognition avatar, Kylie.

Using NeoFace® face recognition technology and pulling from the secure database your organization collects, Kylie greets visitors, provides them with information pertinent to their stay and helps them with everything from getting checked into a room to getting to their return flight information. She is always on, always friendly, and always ready to greet customers to ensure a strong customer experience.

It’s More than Bells and Whistles

Of course, greeting VIP customers helps ensure a positive experience, but it’s only the beginning. Also important is an overall customer experience that couples the desired convenience with the required security. NEC’s Smart Hospitality Solutions are designed to provide both enhanced guest experiences with increased efficiency of hotel operations.

NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions consist of key solutions related to hotel operations, including communications platforms, Unified Communications (UC) applications, Property Management Systems (PMS), facial recognition systems, digital signage and guest room management systems. As the solutions are based on a modular approach and can be tightly integrated, customer information and other data can be easily shared throughout the portfolio of applications. As a result of this seamless integration, hotel owners and operators can provide highly value-added guest service and improve the productivity of hotel staff.

For example, NEC’s facial recognition solution makes it possible to use cameras at hotel entrances to identify VIP guests in real-time using previously registered data in a PMS. This enables the provision of personalized services and greetings to coincide with the arrival of a VIP. The guest experience can also be enhanced by enabling hotel check-ins and check-outs and room service orders and other requests to be accessed from tablets or guests’ smartphones.

NEC plans to continually strengthen the NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions portfolio while promoting its “Hotel IT in a Box” approach, which offers hotel solutions consolidated into a single server platform. Based on this approach, NEC launched its Application Platform for Hotels, a vertically integrated solution platform optimized for the hospitality industry. Moving forward, NEC plans to further integrate new solutions such as PMS into the Application Platform for Hotels.

NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions

A Glimpse into the Future

Of course, no event would be complete without a demonstration of futuristic technology. During HITEC, NEC demonstrated its  Interactive Projection System. This easy-to-use touchpad device connects with customers’ cell phones and provides information of their choosing, including property maps, coupons, and entertainment information. Giving customers the opportunity to self-serve actually improves the experience with quick access to information that can be uploaded to their mobile devices for access at the exact time they want it, a big bonus for those people on the go.

Customer loyalty is critical in the highly competitive hospitality industry, and comes down to the experience. Utilizing innovative solutions such as Kylie or the Interactive Projection System will create a positive visitor experience. Couple this with solutions that improve productivity, and both the customer and the hospitality organization win.

For more information on the NEC Smart Hospitality Solutions, please visit our website.

Trendy Travel Equals High-Tech Hotels

We live in an on-demand world, where customers want access to information and conveniences immediately. While there are plenty of examples of technology that can provide instant gratification, few are more prevalent than those we see in the hospitality industry. After all, hospitality must accommodate business and personal travelers alike, ensuring outstanding experiences and meeting the varying needs of the executive who demands high-speed internet with the vacationer who wants convenience. Fortunately, we are in a time when all this and more are possible.

Meet the ‘Botlr’

Starwood recently rolled out two robotic “Botlrs” in its Cupertino Aloft Hotel. The three-foot-tall robots have giant empty compartments for delivering items and include seven-inch touch screens for guest interactions. These robotic butlers can do everything from delivering towels and food to guests to assisting staff with back office duties.

The idea behind the Botlrs is to perform the more routine tasks, freeing up staff members to handle more complex items. The robots have their own elevators and through the use of Wi-Fi connections can navigate the hotel without getting in the way.

The response has been so positive that Starwood is planning a larger rollout later in 2015. Soon you’ll get your extra towels delivered by a robotic butler who always says thank you!

Forgot Your Key Card? Use Your Phone!

Hilton and Starwood have developed an app that lets guests use their cell phones to unlock their rooms. This service provides great convenience and alleviates the need to carry a key card, or more likely, forget the keycard and have to get a new one from the front desk. Hilton’s app will also allow guests to access various areas of their properties, such as the fitness center, executive floors, elevators and parking facilities.

The apps will also work on other devices, such as the Apple Watch, making it even easier for guests to “remember” their keys.

The Next Generation of Communication

Recently NEC’s Global Hospitality Team was featured in the Frost & Sullivan Digital Transformation blog, where we discussed our global hospitality footprint.  Some of the highlights include:

  • Hotels are moving toward IP voice systems, particularly in new-build facilities, in order to maximize technology in areas such as voice, entertainment, security and environmental controls.
  • Unified Communications significantly enhances workflow productivity while improving the guest experience.
  • By adapting delivery models, NEC has created a solution for hotels that meets the demand for OPEX pricing, while accommodating security needs and legacy systems currently in these hotels.

You can learn more about trends in hospitality technology and NEC’s solutions by visiting us at HITEC 2015 in booth #1437, or by visiting our Hospitality Solutions page on our web site.

How to Stay ‘Mobile’ During a Severe Weather Event

As the polar vortex recently bore down on much of the Midwest and East Coast, bringing lots of snow and multiple headaches, the topic of remote working comes to mind. Seasonal events such as heavy snow—not to mention the ice storm that paralyzed parts of the southern U.S. in early December—can disrupt businesses as well as daily life in many ways. Lack of electricity, canceled flights, delays or shutdowns in local transportation all have an adverse affect on daily activities.

Keeping a business operating at optimal levels when employees can’t make it into the office quickly becomes a problem. The losses in productivity and resulting lost business can mount up fast.

Cloud Services Can Help

Luckily for today’s businesses, technology exists so that many employees can perform their jobs remotely as seamlessly as if they were in the office. For example, cloud-based Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS) enables employees to work remotely, helping to keep things running at the business. Communication tools such as softphones, instant messaging, and audio and video conferencing help dispersed teams collaborate and work on projects even when the weather outside is frightful.

Enabling employees to do their jobs even when they can’t get into the office keeps them safe during dangerous travel conditions, but it also means not losing employee productivity over the course of the weather event.

UCaaS keeps communications running smoothly, especially critical for organizations that heavily rely on communications for their revenue. During inclement weather, unified communications solutions can:

  • Integrate email, voice and instant messaging into a cohesive communication system so all employees can keep in touch
  • Provide access points to all data used by an organization so that users can communicate with others inside and outside their organizations quickly and more easily
  • Lower overall IT and telecommunications costs, particularly labor costs, because of the inherent economies of scale available through an integrated communications platform
  • Give access to carrier-grade communications that deliver consistency with easy-to-use functionality

Virtual Desktops—at Your Service

Other cloud services can make working remotely a reality as well. For instance, Desktop as a Service (DaaS) means moving an employee’s desktop to the cloud and making it accessible anywhere, anytime by an Internet-enabled service. Virtual desktops can be linked through a private network connection to a secure, remote data center far from the bad weather. Best of all, desktops in the cloud look and behave as if they are part of a corporate IT environment. Customers and employees won’t notice a difference in the quality of service.

Plus, the ability to deploy, manage and support desktops through DaaS reduces costs and eliminates the complexity of deploying and managing virtual desktops. Hardware costs can be reduced by nearly 60% and easier management means lower operating costs. Other benefits of DaaS include:

  • Improved security and compliance through centralized updates
  • Better mobility for your workforce through seamless access from any device, at any location
  • More flexibility to easily deploy and quickly scale desktops
  • A disaster recovery strategy to get desktops back up and running quickly

Routing Network Traffic Using SDN

Software-defined networking (SDN) simplifies the network management, proactively addresses network performance and quickly re-routes network traffic as needed—all critical functions during a severe weather occurrence.

SDN can help businesses keep their mission-critical processes up and running. Using OpenFlow technology, an SDN solution centralizes control of the network and automatically monitors network traffic, distributing it according to pre-defined policies and constantly updated network resources and traffic conditions.

Think of a delivery truck’s route from point A to point B. If the truck runs into bad weather conditions or an accident on the route, the driver can access a traffic monitoring app such as Google Turn by Turn to identify and then access another route quickly. The driver is able to quickly re-route the truck so that it doesn’t lose any more time in making its delivery.

So, when bad weather strikes, having the right tools and technology in place to enable mobility among your workforce can make a real difference. Consider including UCaaS, and SDN solutions in your disaster recovery plans to help create a safe and secure environment that protects your data and applications and keeps your businesses running.

To learn more about these solutions follow the links below:

UCaaS – http://goo.gl/5AGs87  SDN – http://goo.gl/HGiyf