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Originally posted on Hospitalitynet]

The hospitality industry is undergoing a phase of dynamic transformation. This is an exciting time for hoteliers and hotel-goers around the world: a time when technologies and innovations that seemed like science fiction a few decades ago are becoming a very solid reality.

At the Henna-na Hotel in Japan, guests are being greeted, cared for and served by a staff consisting entirely of robots. These futuristic machines are enhancing guest experience at Henn-na in a way that is literally unmatched anywhere else in the world.

Hideo Sawada, President of the Henna-na Hotel, spoke at the Hotel Technology Summit in Dubai yesterday, addressing an audience of 150 hotel professionals and executives on the topic “Robot revolution: Are robots the future of hospitality?”

The summit is taking place at the five-star Sofitel Dubai the Palm hotel, and is organised by deal facilitation company Naseba in partnership with HFTP. The summit’s first day featured contributions from other distinguished hotel professionals and innovators such as Lyle Worthington, Vice President of Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals, and Rami Moukarzel, Vice President Development & Acquisitions MENA at Louvre Hotels Group.

lyle-worthington-dubai

Speeches and interactive panel discussions at the summit covered a diverse list of topics, including the rise of smart hotels, the use of mobile apps in the hospitality industry, and the unique challenges of catering to Generation Y and millennial guests.

Commenting on the latter topic during a panel discussion at the summit, Mr. Moukarzel said “Millennials promote brands online and offline. Seven out of ten Millennials believe it is their responsibility to share feedback when having a good or bad experience. Millennials feel unique and want to be treated as such.”

Panelists also included Denis Sorin, President of Hotel Operations at Dur Hospitality. Commenting on his participation during an interview with Naseba, Mr. Sorin said: “I am honoured to be a speaker at the Hotel Technology Summit, alongside some of the best industry leaders in the region.” He pointed out that the hotel industry is re-inventing itself and “guests are changing … and their basic expectations now include technologies that only yesterday were seen as superfluous, and we all need to adapt and re-invent our way of working”.

Mr. Sorin went on to say: “This is an exciting time for hoteliers, and it will be very interesting to share and hear what others are saying to understand what the new trends are and how our industry is re-inventing itself.”

The summit’s attendees were able to interact with these industry leaders and their peers during the networking business lunch, as well as in the more casual context of coffee breaks between sessions.

The Hotel Technology Summit continues today, and the topics being explored range from centralizing IT and embracing disruptive technologies, to the viability of hotel automation, and how smart technology can streamline hospitality supply chains.

In addition to a full schedule of panel discussions, tech talks and keynote speeches, attendees are being given the opportunity to meet with up to 20 of their industry peers during brief but intense one-to-one meetings of two minutes each during the Naseba networking hub. This unique networking format provides valuable opportunities to build business relationships and make a memorable first impression on industry leaders.

According to Nilesh Khalkho, CEO of Sharaf DG, the Hotel Technology Summit provides an opportunity for Sharaf DG and other suppliers to “showcase innovative solutions in areas of communication, connectivity, automation and energy conservation.”

Along with many of the summit’s sponsors and participants, he believes that the hospitality sector “needs technology solutions to be ready for the digital native guests”.

Wael Othman, Director of IT & Business Solutions at Rotana Hotel Management Corporation, commented that the summit is “a truly worthwhile and rare opportunity to increase our exposure to the latest technologies along with experiencing the best practice technologies. In addition, it is a valuable chance to meet our business partners and exchange business cases”.

His remarks highlight the importance of the Hotel Technology Summit, not only in connecting hospitality industry leaders and innovators from all over the world, but also in allowing technology providers to showcase their most cutting-edge solutions to some of the world’s top hotel directors and procurement specialists.

Naveen Bharadwaj, Senior Project Manager at Naseba commented: “From mobile applications to hotel automation, and from high speed WiFi to seamless connectivity across platforms and devices, hotels have come a very long way in terms of technology. The Hotel Technology Summit provides a unique platform to discuss the present state and latest innovations in the industry such as robot-staffed hotels, as well as technology’s impact on the global hospitality industry as a whole.”

The summit is being sponsored by well-established organisations like Pagero, RateGain, DigiValet, and Alcatel Lucent. Other sponsors include American multinational conglomerate Honeywell.

The summit is also generously supported by Idiso Hotel Distribution, Assa Abloy Hospitality, Xn Hotel Systems, Infor and Ruckus. Cetis and Terunt are the summit’s supporting partners, PressReader is the media sponsor, while media partners include eHotelier.com, Hozpitality, Hospitality News, TTG MENA and HSyndicate.

For more information, please contact Madhukar Dudda at madhukard@naseba.com.

Lyle Worthington