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Modern hospitality: Striking the right balance between high-tech and human

JLLH 5 October 2017
From iPad ordering to robot concierges, technology is automating many aspects of dining and hotel experiences - and freeing up staff to provide more personalized service.At some Aloft hotels, a robot butler known as Botlr delivers room service and towels to guests, leaving staff to deal with more complex queries. In CitizenM hotels, guests bypass front desk queues at self check-in kiosks with hotel ambassadors to answer any questions, while at the Andaz West Hollywood, personal greeters take guests through an iPad check-in over a coffee or glass of wine."Technology has substantially improved both the behind-the-scenes management and the guest experience in the hospitality industry," says Marko Vucinic, Senior Vice President and Acting Head of Hotels and Hospitality Group at JLL Middle East and North Africa. Online booking sites have transformed the way people find and book meals and accommodation, while apps such as Deliveroo are eliminating the need for restaurant staff to answer delivery calls. "Self-service technology is on the rise, as digital systems streamline processes from pre-payment to checking in and even dining experiences with new iPad menus."Meanwhile, loyalty apps and sophisticated customer relationship management systems allow hoteliers and restaurateurs to track guest preferences and personalize their benefits accordingly. For example, the Starbucks app learns its users' habits, then pushes unique offers to their phones, smartwatches or drive-thru windows."Technology has become very good at making services more efficient, providing more information for guests, and reducing costs," says Alexis Marcoux-Varvatsoulis, Consultant at JLL Foodservice Consulting. "But can it provide hospitality? I'm not sure it can."Hospitality is personalTraditional vanguards of hospitality have been the savvy waiter or concierge who could decode customers' wishes or make on-point recommendations using well-honed interpersonal skills. For brands whose key offering revolves around high-quality hospitality, this human factor and skill set will always be crucial. But where efficiency and speed are key to a brand's offering, technology can successfully replace human labor and cut costs without alienating guests, notes Marcoux-Varvatsoulis.Take fast-food chains, often the early adopters of industry technology. By year-end, burger chain Wendy's will have 1,000 restaurants with self-order kiosks, while McDonald's kiosks additionally allow diners to customize their burgers. In the mid-2020s, many fast-food restaurants could be fully automated, from the point of ordering to the burger-flipping.From the hotels' perspective, "budget to midscale hotel brands tend more to use technology as a replacement for human labor because there isn't a significant need for that additional level of customer service - which is what guests are paying for with higher-end brands," Vucinic says.In contrast, guests at many budget and mid-range brands are looking for convenience - and automated technology therefore helps create an experience which meets their needs.Getting the right mixYet as hoteliers look to boost spending on technology to provide their customers with increasingly personalized service, the impact of human connection can't be overstated. The number of interactions guests have with hotel staff directly impacts how they rate customer service, while 68 percent of diners agree that automation in restaurants takes away from their dining experience."Some hoteliers want to have technology features because that's what people increasingly expect, but they need to maintain a human factor as that's what guests are paying for," Vucinic says. "Hoteliers need to figure out the right balance for their particular product and decide which functions can be automated."Often, that entails the straightforward processes such as checking in and paying, where guests are not only unlikely to require a social connection, but would prefer to avoid waiting in line to do it.For some of the hotel groups and brands such as CitizenM and Aloft, an affordable, tech-centric experience is part of the brand offering, targeted towards Millennial customers who often prefer self-service and technology such as keyless entry via smartphone app.Conversely, at the Four Seasons, whose luxury brand is predicated on sky-high levels of customer service, the hotel app offers features in addition to what its human team can provide, such as GPS directions that users can show cab drivers in the local language and a facility to request housekeeping even if the privacy light is on - as well as direct access to the concierge for in-person assistance when required."The key objective of technology features is to add value to the overall experience brands are trying to deliver, not replace the human interaction," Vucinic says.At the Hilton McLean, Connie is a robot concierge that can answer routine questions and point the way to various hotel facilities - but rather than replacing any member of staff, Connie is intended to free up its human colleagues to focus on helping guests with more complicated queries."Using technology in hospitality should be all about improving the experience for guests," Marcoux-Varvatsoulis concludes. "Efficiency can go a long way to creating a good guest experience, but thoughtful, personal customer service is what turns a good experience into a memorable one."

How hotels are turning day-trippers into overnighters

JLLH 22 August 2017
It's not just because of growing competition from home sharing platforms like Airbnb and VBRO. Whether they're driving or even flying to a nearby locale for a cultural event or for a business meeting, people often prefer to head in and out of their destination in one day rather than stay overnight.It's a familiar phenomenon to tourism professionals. In recent years, there were 12 million day trips to Denver, Colorado; and in Minnesota, 57 percent of travel was comprised of day trips--with 38.2 million day trips, compared to 29.3 million overnights.While not all day-trippers can be converted to overnighters, there are ways hoteliers can encourage visitors to extend their trip - which will also benefit their longer-term guests."The key is to create a guest experience that serves as a natural extension of the local environment," says David Holder, Vice President of Tourism, JLL. "Hotels that offer memorable encounters in authentic atmospheres can help win attention from short-term travelers."No guest left behindOf course, the big question is how. Winning over business travelers, for example, goes beyond simply offering the facilities they need to conduct business, such as great connectivity and meeting space. It might also mean providing special packages with room rates and dining options included or offering more elements of home, whether it's the ability to watch a favorite show via in-room streaming entertainment, or grab a ready-made breakfast bag for an early morning ride to the airport.For leisure travelers, it's often more about connecting them with the local events that sparked their interest in the area in the first place. Are they coming for the local music scene? Create a concert calendar to display in a public common area and provide easy-to-score tickets in the lobby. Even better, bring music in-house for live entertainment.Still, there are ways work and pleasure do mix, at least for hotels looking to woo both kinds of short-term travelers."What's attracting people to any given destination?" asks Holder. "Whatever it is that drives your prospective guests, embrace it. Make it your own, so that you can build on it to create interest and engagement for your guests."Answering that question can be invaluable, considering the Global Portrait of American Travelers shows that 68 percent of all vacations were planned with a specific attraction in mind.In addition, American vacation habits are changing. "Americans have been engaging in more localized vacations since the 2008 recession," says Holder. "The staycation trend is blurring the lines between local and longer-distance travelers, so day-trippers may be more amenable now to the idea of staying overnight in a nearby city when it's not strictly necessary."Tourism spend has increased steadily since the bottom of the recession, too, which bodes well for hotels that can convert day travelers into guests. This is especially true for American Millennial families, who intend to spend 19 percent more on their vacations in the next year. That means it's time for hotels to get creative to convince guests that an overnight stay is worth their time and money.A meaningful extension of the local experienceHotels are a key place to showcase local culture, from the artwork in the halls to the craft beer and food served in the restaurant and bar, explains Holder. "The lure of a soft bed isn't the only selling point to convert a day traveler into an overnight guest. You want them soak up the local culture so they're more likely to extend their visit or come back for more."Historically, hotels have served as community centers where locals and travelers came together and shared stories. It may be time to revive the spirit of those crossroads hotels. Mingling with locals can provide local experiences and insights that aren't available in guidebooks. It can also make common spaces seem like more exciting places to be.Food and drink are another key draw. But more than just a great menu, hotels can hook day-trippers by bringing local specialties to life with unique events. For example, wine country hotels might offer a sommelier-guided tasting evening, concluded by a champagne testing that tempts day-trippers to choose to stay the night just so they don't miss the signature mimosa at breakfast.Collaborating with local businesses, such as event organizers and theaters, might yield overnight packages and other deals that are more cost-effective than booking them separately, which will appeal to people who are daytrippers due to cost rather than out of choice. But it's not just about savings--creating easy access to tickets to the best entertainment in town can help a hotel feel like a natural gateway to the area.When hotels can offer a clear extension of the local experience whether for culture, sport or food, it makes it easier to see an overnight--or even multiple night stay--as time well spent.

How technology is helping restaurants connect with guests - JLL Real Views

JLLH 18 July 2017
From touch-screen tables to chatbots taking orders, food retailers are experimenting with technology to attract customers.Domino's is trialing delivery by drone in Australia, while restaurant chains including Itsu, Bill's and the Cheesecake Factory are letting customers pay via their mobile phones.Such innovations enhance the dining experience while boosting convenience for guests and delivering a wealth of insight on customers' habits that help brands further refine their offerings."Technology is a game-changer, both as an enabler and a disruptor," says Adam Griffin, Director of Foodservice Consulting at JLL. "Well-conceived and executed technology is generally enhancing operational efficiency, and consumer engagement."Digital evolution, real-world changesNowhere has technology had a more profound impact on the food retail industry than in the development of on-demand delivery apps."Around the world, the biggest technology trend in food has been in building that connection between restaurants and guests," says Griffin. "Apps like Deliveroo and UberEats have been able to connect the desire for restaurant-quality food with the capability to deliver it."For restaurants, the change is significant: On-demand delivery apps significantly increase the amount of food orders but restaurants don't need the manpower nor space to cater for more guests."This is an inspired business model - businesses may pay 20 percent of profits to an on-demand delivery app, but they increase their customers by 30 percent without needing to pay for the real estate for those customers," Griffin says.Yet the growing popularity of food-to-go apps comes with challenges, especially for shopping centres which usually lease spaces to restaurants based on turnover. Because the additional turnover afforded by on-demand delivery doesn't go through the physical space, restaurants don't pay more on their lease, but the shopping centres must deal with the additional load of the turnover - for example, the extra waste generated, or the traffic of couriers coming to pick up orders.It will fall to restaurants to adapt, Griffin believes. "Restaurateurs absolutely must redesign their spaces to accommodate the rising use of on-demand delivery apps," he says.For example, a restaurant could designate a service entrance and make a couple of new hires especially for packaging food-to-go. For shopping centers, a service bay would allow couriers to park their motorbikes. Major on-demand delivery companies might even invest in their own branded service area."There's a lot of growing up around technology in food retail that needs to happen," Griffin says.The power of getting personalOther food retailers are making use of technology to fine-tune how they attract guests. In London, Maxwell's Bar invested in making itself a location in Pokemon Go, increasing revenues by 26 percent. Paris's Wall Street Bar plays to its finance-centric demographic by updating the price of drinks every 100 seconds.For shopping centres, fast, consistent Wi-Fi is the backbone of modernizing retail spaces. "Constant connectivity allows retailers to build digital connections with guests - in other words a relationship," Griffin says.Not only does solid Wi-Fi boost convenience for customers, connecting to customers' smartphones as soon as they enter the mall delivers a wealth of insight to improve offerings - from understanding where shoppers may bottleneck, to streamlining visitors to food and beverage outlets.For example, shopping centres might design an app that lets visitors virtually join queues at their restaurants, or push personalised discounts to their smartphones to direct the flow of diners. Specific restaurants could, like Restaurant Tang in Stockholm, have apps that let customers see meals before ordering them.The risks of high-tech improvementsTechnology can increase retailers' potential - but as Griffin notes, it also increases their potential to fail.Hyper-personalization of offers that turns out to be inaccurate can be irritating, and even deter guests from logging into networks or using apps. As well, making too much available - such as information about menu items - could end up drowning guests in unnecessary detail."The biggest risk is that technology makes a promise, but the physical world prevents the promise being kept," Griffin says. A guest may be happy to wait 45 minutes, but not when an arrival time of 15 minutes has been promised.Food's future technologyYet tech has a key role to play in the future of food retail. From self-ordering to automated serving to 3D printed food, fast-food restaurants are a good barometer of where technology can take food retail. Wendy's and Panera are rolling self-service kiosks where customers can order and pay - with zero human interaction.Self-service kiosks are now in use at every one of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. locations - and even the deep-frying of its French fries is controlled entirely by automaton."The innovations that seem fun or unique now - like ordering from iPad, robotics, drone delivery - will become the dividing line between two types of restaurants: those that are more experiential, and lower-end restaurants whose service is fully automated," says Griffin.Rising labor wages mean that for fast-service restaurants to stay cheap, automated processes that replace human staff are likely to be adopted. Higher-end restaurants will therefore evolve to focus more sharply on an experience: from highly trained waiter service to sleek apps and virtual reality technology, all designed to enhance the on- and offline richness of a meal."The thing about technology is that it is inherently unpredictable but there's no doubt that in 10 or even five years' time, the physical and digital worlds will be much more intertwined than they are now," Griffin says. "And food is as susceptible to advances in technology, and the structural change it brings as any other industry."Download Report

How self-service technology is enhancing the guest experience

JLLH 7 December 2016
At hotels around the world, the friendly face of a concierge who remembers your name could soon be replaced by technology that aims to do just the same.When it comes to a great hotel stay, that personalized touch is often the defining feature. At the Aloft hotels in Boston and Santa Clara, guests can perfect their room's temperature not by ringing down to housekeeping, but by telling the in-room iPad to "cool the room".When it launches next summer, the Hilton Group's Tru brand will similarly target tech-savvy, millennial travellers, who can check-in by app, collect a virtual key on their smartphones and let themselves into their rooms by waving their phones at Bluetooth-enabled locks."Customers are increasingly demanding this kind of technology. We are living in a self-service world where you can buy groceries and check-in for flights without interacting with a single person," says Richard Pemberton, Hospitality Consultant at Avenue9, part of JLL Group.Starting at check-inWhether a hotel is a high-end boutique or a budget-friendly micro-hotel, self-service technology is increasingly impacting the hotel experience from check in to check out."Reservations and check-in are probably the best implemented self-service features at the moment," Pemberton says.Denmark's budget WakeUpCopenhagen, for example, lets guests check in and out minus humans, while London's Edwardian Hotels uses mobile and online check-in where guests can select in-room amenities or specific floors.Keyless entry is also on the rise - visitors to certain Hilton, Starwood and Marriott Hotels can collect digital room keys and check-in via apps, removing the hassle of (not losing) a room key.The rise in in-room technologyWhere once part of the appeal of staying in a hotel was its vast catalogue of movies on-demand, the arrival of super-fast Wifi, Netflix and iTunes has changed all that. "Many travellers own more up-to-date tech than you can actually get in hotel bedrooms," says Pemberton.As a result, many hotels - from higher-end properties like the Irvine in California and lower-cost Dutch-based CitizenM - are eschewing media channels for in-room tech that lets guests stream their own movies and music to widescreen TVs and Bluetooth speaker systems."Hotels have always aimed to be a home away from home," says Dale Nix, Hospitality Consultant at Avenue9. "Now, that means evolving to include the tablets and smart tech that are part of everyday life."That includes building apps to enable guests to order what they want when they want it as part of the self-service trend. Conrad Concierge, for example, lets guests book spa treatments and airport transfers at 20 boutique properties, while the younger-facing W Hotels Worldwide has a dedicated app for ordering room service, checking out the local weather and streaming W-style music - even when guests are at home.The highs and lows of hotel techIt's not just guests who are benefitting from evolving tech; maintenance staff are too.Seattle's Hotel 1000 has rooms with sensors that detect body heat so housekeeping knows not to enter when the room is occupied. Other hotels are experimenting with robots who do everything from deliver luggage to check guests in and answer questions."As the technology has matured, we're seeing better cost efficiency and a smoother overall experience for both hotels and guests," Pemberton says.For hotel operators, features such as self-check-in and room service apps can also save costs by reducing the need for staff. "Anecdotal evidence indicates that investing in technology ups in-room sales revenue by 20 percent," Nix adds.Yet as these features become more widespread, research suggests that self-service has a way to go before it is fully embraced by guests."In a hotel with both check-in counter and self-check-in kiosk, guests will often look at the kiosk and go to the counter," Nix says. "Many hotels may be throwing money into a pit because they haven't asked - nor understood - what their guests want."Guests need to have a choice, he says: "Do they want to check-in themselves, or be helped by a person?"Physical plan Bs are necessary in case of internet failures or lost phones, while security remains a challenge. "You can imagine the bad press for hotel brands if someone was able to hack the Bluetooth room locks," Pemberton says.The hotel of the future"Down the line, my ideal hotel bedroom would recognize who I am when I enter the building," Nix says, "and set my preferences for lighting and TV stations and draw the blinds, so when I get there it's my home from home."That could soon be possible, as hotel groups such as Starwood are experimenting with Bluetooth sensors that would connect to guests' phones as they approach, displaying their names and room preferences to reception.While budget hotels of the future are likely to look to keyless entry and self-check-in to cut costs, higher-end hotels will focus using technology to recreate all the comforts of home - your music, movies and TV, the way you like the lights, the ability to order food from your iPad. In other words, the feeling of personalization which once upon a time was fulfilled by the perfectly mannered concierge.

How Technology is Turning Buildings into Butlers

JLLH 29 November 2016
You enter your office and check your phone. An app displays your day's schedule and prompts you to reserve a room for your next meeting.When you settle down to work, the smart building controls automatically adjust the lighting and temperature just for you, and even plays your most productivity-enhancing background music. Morning coffee? The office espresso machine knows you prefer a double.Sound a bit too futuristic? Maybe in the average office in 2016--but technologies like these are already in use at The Edge in Amsterdam, largely occupied by Deloitte. And other workplaces could be following suit in the not-too-distant future.Buildings that act like butlers are made possible by mobile app and smart building technologies. Building systems are advancing as quickly as smartphones and tablets, and they're becoming more connected as building engineering becomes more sophisticated.Like a butler, the building learns user preferences, and anticipates their every need--include tracking their coffee preferences. While The Edge, with its 28,000 sensors linked via custom-designed lighting panels that double as Internet-connected data hubs, may have the most advanced implementation of smart building systems in the world, the technologies involved are already widely available.Singapore's Capital Tower, for example, has a smart parking lot with real-time maps that help drivers find empty spaces. While the building was completed in 2000, it now has not only the smart lot, but an integrated building management system that auto-manages many building functions."Smart building and facility management technologies are evolving rapidly, and becoming more affordable and mainstream every year," says Ehrenberg. "An increasing number of companies are adopting smartphone apps for their employees, making it easier for them to reserve meeting rooms, find a parking space, order drinks or meals and control temperature and lighting in their workspaces."Mobile apps for a better employee experienceIt's all part of what facility managers and workplace strategists call "the employee experience," where the workplace is more than just a place to sit (or stand). The focus on the individual and their needs is no coincidence. As Baby Boomers retire and the war for fresh, top talent intensifies, creating a compelling workplace is essential."Many companies view their facilities with an educated eye toward attracting employees--and, ultimately, keeping them engaged, productive and excited about their work environment," says Maureen Ehrenberg, Executive Managing Director, Integrated Facility Management at JLL. "Smart, connected facilities that deploy modern workplace technologies can help companies meet and surpass employee expectations with an interactive, enjoyable and comfortable experience that provides a sense of personalization."In fact, simply creating a comfortable and responsive environment can make a difference in employee satisfaction and productivity. HOK research argues that offering a building's occupants greater control over the temperature and lighting of their workspaces--via a customized mobile app, for example--can contribute to direct productivity gains."Temperature is a top complaint in most offices, but it can be difficult to provide an ideal temperature for each person at the same time," notes Ehrenberg. "By offering personal workstation controls or even cooler or warmer seating zones, a company gives employees the power to decide what temperature preference will help them be the most comfortable and therefore the most productive."Services, anyone?'Smart' technologies are already transforming how people experience the built environment. In most workplaces, for example, employees have come to expect that their mobile devices will automatically connect to the wireless network, no matter where they are working.Some facilities and workplaces already offer mobile applications tasks such as scheduling conference rooms, adjusting a room's temperature, or ordering a drink from the coffee shop in the lobby without leaving the office--all from a mobile phone or tablet. On a larger scale, some university, healthcare or business campuses provide wayfinding applications for navigating a web of buildings, or finding a particular space.Modo Labs, for instance, worked with a Fortune 500 financial services firm to create @Work, a mobile app that provides a hub for multiple functions across numerous corporate locations. The app includes real-time information for each location like dining options, shuttle tracking, indoor maps, the option to search for building amenities, report facility issues and more. It simplifies and consolidates a range of real estate services for employees, from finding a conference room to request a replacement light bulb. Perhaps most useful, it "knows" which facility an employee is in, and provides information specifically about the particular facility.Another new app, Comfy, addresses one of the most common office complaints: temperature. JLL research shows that that thermal comfort, as it is called, can boost logical thinking by four to six percent--which is why applications like Comfy are so promising. Tell Comfy that you are too hot or too cold and it automatically blasts air in your direction. Over time, it learns what temperature a group of coworkers prefer at a certain time of day, and it automatically adjusts."In the past, companies and investors focused mainly on the energy efficiency advantages of smart buildings," says Ehrenberg. "Today, they're beginning to see how mobile apps, smart building technologies and a holistic approach to occupant experience can have a measurable impact on employee productivity, engagement and satisfaction."As this trend progresses, the very nature of the digital environment being created by these smart building environments will create additional value itself through collection of the data, which will advance the property into the realm of cognitive analytics and digital business."

Meet the robot receptionists: a sign of things to come - JLL Real Views

JLLH 24 October 2016
A good receptionist often has certain characteristics - a helpful manner, a friendly disposition and good organizational skills.But do they need to be human? Perhaps not anymore. Walk into JLL's Carrington Street office in Sydney and you will be greeted by new receptionist JiLL, who can assist in a delivery, report a fault and contact your hosts. So far so good.However, JiLL,is actually a robot - and could well be Australia's first fully automated front office face.Chris Hunt, Managing Director, Integrated Facilities Management, Australasia, says that there are capabilities for JiLL to do much more than the basic tasks programmed into it. However, "we wanted to think big but start small," he says.JiLL, who stands at 57cm tall and has inbuilt facial recognition software that helps it recognize regular employees, has been programmed to carry out basic administrative tasks, such as meeting and greeting guests and providing directions.It's part of a pilot to see how automation can assist office workflows, and how employees and customers respond to working with robots. And it's just one among a growing number of robotic office staff.In June, a robot created by the University of Birmingham named Betty completed a two month trial as a trainee office manager at the Transport Systems Catapult in Milton Keynes, the UK. It performed a wide range of tasks including greeting customers, gathering data on working outside office hours, clutter on desks and checking the office temperature and humidity levels.Meanwhile, over in Taiwan, Pepper is working for two banks and an insurance company. It is programmed to flatter by meeting and greeting clients and guessing their ages far below what they are in real life. The Mandarin-speaking robot can even close a sale by directing customers to staff and the website.The employee of the futureNearly five million white-collar office and administration jobs are estimated to be taken over by robots by 2020, and in many cases they will be working alongside human colleagues.However, Hunt believes that it may take a while for humans to warm up to the idea of sharing their work space with robots."We believe that humans have got to learn to work with robots as much as robots have got to learn to work with humans," Hunt says, "We don't think that right now customers or employees are ready for an entirely robotic interaction."But humans need to get used to it as technology such as Microsoft's Cortana and Apple's Sirievolves beyond merely responding to basic questions and helping with straightforward tasks. Cortana, for example, is soon to be updated to provide people with health insights based on information from third party sources such as Microsoft Health.It's all part of the Fourth Industrial Revolution that the World Economic Forum says "is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital and biological spheres".Using robots to augment the human workforceWhile Hunt admits that JiLL is still a bit of a novelty, he anticipates far-reaching changes in the future of the workplace and certainly sees a role for robots."We think that we can augment the current human force with a robot. For example, I can put JiLL on duty from 7.30 in the morning until 7.30 in the evening. I can't do that with an individual," he says.He also argues that robots can make huge gains in areas as diverse as after-hours security, which has been traditionally heavily foot-dependent, or tasks that require scanning, QR coding or facial recognition.Hunt himself is reluctant to call JiLL a 'robot receptionist' given the semantics around the fields of automation, artificial intelligence, and the interface between humans and their mobile devices. But he is keenly interested in how customers will respond to JiLL.Indeed, as robots move from being novelty objects into mainstream use, their role in our everyday life will be one of the big topics to be debated in years to come.

Five ways chatbots could change the hotel industry

JLLH 3 October 2016
including that your guest wants to get involved with the technology in the first place. "Certain generations will feel excluded if hotels abandon the more traditional routes of engagement," Symonds adds.4. Supplementing and supporting staffWith conversational AI able to answer straightforward questions, front-of-house staff are freed up to provide the kind of service only humans can. At the same time, "we're seeing a shift in the desired skill set of hotel marketing and customer service personnel towards digital specialization" says Symonds. Chatbots aid guest interaction, but when a human needs to step in, that person needs to be both tech-savvy and able to embody the voice of the brand in a spontaneous and textually interactive way.5. Leveraging dataA PMS-integrated bot that interacts with guests at all stages of the customer journey can gather valuable data, which can then be used by algorithms and hotel staff alike to provide personalized services. Unlike localized human interactions, entire chatbot conversations and outcomes can be stored and recalled for relevant future exchanges.However, there's a fine line between the impressive and the downright creepy. "If suggestions are too intuitive, you can risk alienating your guest," says Symonds. As public perceptions catch up to the capabilities of technology, the solution, concludes Symonds, is a thorough and transparent permissions process.

Why the Tech-Enabled Workplace Tops the Corporate Wish List | JLL Real Views

JLLH 1 August 2016
While some recent office construction plans have focused entirely on open-plan layouts and stand-up desks, one particular feature of the modern workplace has shot up the priority list of many companies - interactive technology.Ten years ago, technology costs represented about seven percent of a company's interior construction budget. Now, they can consume 25 percent or more of a total build-out cost.Companies are much more focused on digitization and connectivity, with common examples including more sophisticated conference rooms featuring interactive audio/visual technology and smart TVs, as well as cloud-based solutions for employee mobility.The focus on technology has influenced workplace design as well. "Spaces are being designed to accommodate what the technology can offer now," says David Roberts, International Director at JLL."Pioneering workplaces consist of tech-enabled meeting and huddle areas, and employees can work seamlessly whether they're in an office, cubical, meeting room - or even at home. The physical personal space matters less now while tech-focused spaces matter more."Of less importance to many of today's offices are material finishes. "Materials, fixtures and finishes are getting less attention as the technological components of the workplace grow in prominence," says Christian Beaudoin, National Director, Research & Strategy at JLL. "Offices are becoming more minimalist and decreasing expenses on millwork and granite, for example, so they can allocate more of the budget for technology."What a tech-enabled workplace looks likeOne example of this is UI LABS, a first-of-its-kind research and development facility in Chicago dedicated to advancing high-tech commercial innovation. "It's minimal in design but maximized in technology," Roberts says.Zurich Insurance's North American Headquarters in Schaumburg, Illinois, has also created a tech-enabled workspace. The simple task of setting up a video conference call used to require at least a week's worth of notice and several steps. Now, employees simply agree to a meeting time, walk into the conference room and touch a screen to begin the meeting.However, what works for one company may not necessarily be a good fit for another: Companies which are successful in using technology to maximize both a workspace and an employee base start by thoroughly researching how their own employees work.This prevents the use of technology tools that don't have the end user in mind. Companies embracing technology can use quantifiable data like seat sensors to show how much time people are at their desk or, for example, working in co-working spaces in an office. With that objective data, they then develop solutions built around the end users - a company's employees.A successful IT build-out also doesn't put much stock in brands, manufacturers and providers until the planners have a clear understanding of the technology needs of each team. Once that is established, the appropriate components can be selected.Change comes from withinOften IT teams work in a reactive capacity, but that should change in a tech-enabled workplace. A technology system should be intuitive and user-friendly so IT experts can dedicate time to solve actual problems rather than troubleshooting and re-booting computers. The design and support team should be an integral part of the IT build-out process from ideation to implementation, and they should continue to be involved even after."Companies may have to be prepared for more frequent updating of the systems in their space than people have been used to," Beaudoin says. "During a 15-year lease, for example, they may need to upgrade technology as the business and the solutions evolve. It's a much more continuous cycle of advancement."Finally, the budgets of companies that successfully embed technology in the workplace go beyond the rough cost-per-square-foot metric. They include cost allocations for pre-design research, envisioning sessions and data analysis, change management communications, adoption training and post-installation analysis and modification."With new technology frequently coming to market, the modern office is changing rapidly," Roberts says. "Companies that take a holistic approach to IT can get the most out of their employees, their workspace and their technology."By William PolkAbout JLL Real ViewsReal Views is a news site from JLL that features stories exploring the world of real estate and its impact on the wider business world. Our authors and contributors, from within and outside of JLL, provide expert insights that create stimulating conversations to help you make informed decisions.

The big tech drive to encourage loyalty - JLL Real Views

JLLH 23 May 2016
all available exclusively to loyalty program members, of course.Big Data, big opportunitiesTo create a truly personalized guest experience, hotels need to collect as much information as possible about each individual. "One of the things that loyalty can do, and how technology helps, is that we're able to gather the finer details about our guests," says Nix. "If you encourage guests to use the loyalty program at every touchpoint, you start getting a really good picture of the buying habits of your customer, such as recency, frequency and value of the spend, and the portion of the customer's wallet that each of these entities are getting."At present, the biggest challenge is processing all the data and turning it into actionable steps. It may be a work in progress but as emerging technology become mainstream, the opportunity to convert data into truly tangible value will be employed by savvy hotel brands, to everyone's benefit, says Nix.Not only can hotels use big data to identify and target their model customer--that is, the guest who provides highest value, but also provide guests with better service."Guests look for personalization, recognition and status," concludes Nix. "We can provide those things at very little cost if we get it right. It's about creating that seamless guest journey, from booking, to staying, to paying and beyond. We have to make it easy for the guest to say yes--and it doesn't have to be through points."

JLL acquires Avenue9 to add IT Consulting capability to its Hotels & Hospitality Group

JLLH 24 November 2015
JLL today announced the acquisition of Avenue9, a rapidly-growing recent start-up business providing tailored IT Consulting services for the hotels and hospitality sector. The move reflects growing interest from clients of JLL's Hotels & Hospitality Group in specialist technology strategy advice and services. Based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the north-east of England and employing seven people, Avenue9 is currently focused primarily on the UK market. However, the combination of Avenue9's ground-breaking service proposition, JLL's global platform and growing client demand for hotel IT consulting services offers immediate synergies and considerable scope for international expansion.Mark Wynne Smith, Global CEO of the JLL Hotels & Hospitality Group, said: "In all respects, IT is an increasingly vital aspect of hotel operations and a growing cost and management consideration for our clients. Avenue9 has developed innovative and highly effective technology solutions designed specifically for the hotels sector, an ideal complement to our existing asset management and advisory services, providing clients with an excellent outsourcing option."Jonathan Hubbard, Head of Investor Services for JLL Hotels & Hospitality EMEA, said: "We have been impressed with the impact Avenue9 has been making on the UK sector since its launch in 2013. Their capabilities and approach dovetail perfectly with JLL's ongoing core strategic focus on delivering sector-leading digital capabilities and ensuring our clients have access to the best technology advice and tools."Kevin Edwards, Managing Director of Avenue9, said: "We are really excited to be joining with JLL Hotels & Hospitality. After a great couple of years which have proven our business model and attracted considerable client interest, our strategic growth plan required us to find a partner with a powerful international platform and reputation for excellence. JLL was always the partner we had in mind. We are delighted with this outcome and looking forward to taking this next big leap forward." Philippa Witheat, co-founder and Sales & Marketing Director at Avenue9, added: "Joining with JLL creates a unique combination within the hotels and hospitality services sector. Nothing like this exists elsewhere. This gives us a huge platform on which to build our specialist IT consulting offer."The Avenue9 team will continue to be based in Newcastle and will operate under the existing name for a transitional period before fully adopting the JLL brand. The acquisition takes immediate effect.

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