Hotelier Maldives GM Forum 2023: Panellists explore leveraging tech for tourism business operations
Technology is a key driver of business success in the hospitality industry, as it can enhance operational efficiency, customer satisfaction, and competitive advantage. However, adopting and managing new technologies also poses significant challenges and opportunities for hoteliers and travel agents. How can they navigate the digital transformation and disruption in their sector? What are some of the best practices and strategies for leveraging technology for business success?
These were some of the questions that were discussed in the third panel of the Hotelier Maldives General Managers (GM) Forum 2023, which was held at Bandos Maldives resort on October 19. The panel, titled “Leveraging technology for business success”, was moderated by Mohamed Shafraz Hafiz, Director of Digital Technology & Marketing of Pulse Hotels & Resorts, and featured four panellists from different segments of the industry:
- Ruchie Sharma; Cluster Director of Revenue Management, Anantara Hotels, Thailand
- Rajesh Mehta; Chief Business Officer, Ooredoo Maldives
- Narelle McDougall; General Manager, Amilla Maldives
- Abdulla Ghiyas; President, Maldives Association of Travel Agents & Tour Operators (MATATO)
The panel lasted for one-hour and covered four main topics: how technology has changed the way they operate their business and deliver their services; what are some of the emerging or disruptive technologies that they are excited about or interested in adopting in their business; how they implement and manage new technologies in their business; and how they cope with the digital transformation and disruption in the hospitality industry.
How technology has changed the way they operate their business and deliver their services
The panellists agreed that technology has brought significant benefits to their business operations and service delivery, such as improving efficiency, productivity, quality, innovation, customer experience, etc. For example, Sharma said that technology has enabled them to optimise their revenue management by using data analytics and dynamic pricing. Mehta said that technology has allowed them to provide seamless connectivity and digital solutions to their customers and partners.
However, the panellists also acknowledged some of the difficulties or risks they have faced or anticipate in using technology, such as cost, security, privacy, regulation, training, etc. For instance, Narelle said that technology requires significant investment and maintenance costs, which can be challenging for small or medium-sized hotels. Mehta said that technology poses security and privacy threats, which require robust protection and compliance measures. Ghiyas said that technology can sometimes disrupt or disintermediate the traditional role of travel agents, which require adaptation and innovation.
What are some of the emerging or disruptive technologies that they are excited about or interested in adopting in their business
The panellists expressed their awareness and interest in new or innovative technologies that have the potential to transform their business or industry, such as artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cloud computing, big data, internet of things (IoT), etc. For example, Sharma said that AI can help them to automate and enhance their revenue management processes by using machine learning and predictive analytics. Ghiyas said that big data can help them to understand their customers’ preferences and behaviour by using data mining and visualisation.
The panellists also shared how they assess and choose the technologies that fit their business objectives and capabilities, such as conducting research, testing, benchmarking, consulting experts, etc.
How they implement and manage new technologies in their business
The panellists discussed their approaches and strategies for implementing and managing new technologies in their business, such as planning, budgeting, training, monitoring, evaluating, etc.
The panellists also shared some of the best practices or lessons learned from their experience, such as involving stakeholders, communicating clearly, adapting to changes, overcoming challenges, etc. For instance, Sharma said that they involve their revenue managers and hotel managers in the decision-making and implementation of new technologies to ensure their buy-in and support. Mehta said that they communicate clearly and frequently with their customers and partners about the benefits and features of new technologies to ensure their awareness and adoption. Ghiyas said that they overcome challenges and obstacles from new technologies by using creative problem-solving and collaboration skills.
How they cope with the digital transformation and disruption in the hospitality industry
The panellists reflected on how they cope with the digital transformation and disruption in the hospitality industry, which requires constant innovation and adaptation. The moderator asked follow-up questions to explore the skills or competencies that the panellists need or seek to cope with the digital change, such as digital literacy, data literacy, critical thinking, creativity, etc. For example, Sharma said that they need digital literacy skills to understand and use new technologies effectively and efficiently. Mehta said that they need data literacy skills to collect and analyse data from new technologies intelligently and strategically. Ghiyas said that they need creativity skills to generate and implement new ideas from new technologies innovatively and competitively rather than seeing them as a threat.
The Hotelier Maldives GM Forum 2023, which is the most anticipated event for hoteliers in the Maldives, was held at Bandos Maldives resort on October 19, 2023. The forum attracted over 100 hoteliers from various resorts and hotels in the Maldives. This year’s forum was sponsored by several leading companies in the hospitality sector, such as Ooredoo Maldives, Fuel Supplies Maldives, Far Horizon, Bestbuy Maldives, Manta Air, Coca-Cola Maldives, Alia Investments, Villa Hakatha, Swimsol, Souvenir Marine, and more.