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HTNG Announces 2013 EMEA Technology Innovators Award Winners

Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG), the premier technology solutions association in the hospitality industry, today announced that it has recently recognized two EMEA-region hotel companies with its EMEA Technology Innovators Award for the creative and innovative application of existing technology within their hotels. The winners were MÖvenpick Hotels & Resorts (MH&R) and Hotel Lugano Dante Center. Professor Ian Millar, of Ecole HÔteliÈre de Lausanne, announced the winners of the 2013 EMEA Technology Innovators' Award in a ceremony during HTNG’s recent European conference in London.
“HTNG created this award to recognize hoteliers who most effectively use existing technologies to add significant value to their business,” commented Douglas Rice, Executive Vice President & CEO of HTNG. “Even though we’ve been impressed by the vendors’ innovations we see each year, which we recognize with our Most Innovative Hospitality Technology award, we know that innovation isn’t defined only by vendor products. Sometimes it is in how hoteliers use existing technologies.”
Ian Millar, Professor of IT in Ecole HÔteliÈre de Lausanne, commented, “It was a pleasure to have taken part in the second edition of the EMEA Technology Innovators Award with yet again many outstanding submissions. What we saw in almost of all the applicants is that hoteliers are seeing how the use of technology can enhance the customer experience. They are bringing the hotel closer to the guests, which helps the hotel better understand the needs and wants of the hotel guests.”
The winners of the award for 2013 each made brief presentations about their projects during the general session of the conference. The winners, including a summary of their innovation, follow:

MÖvenpick Hotels & Resorts (MH&R) created a central ticketing platform for hotels and offices to manage guest and staff requests and issues, following an IT call-center model. The team developed a Service Centre application on a Microsoft Sharepoint platform with a separate SQL database for ticket reporting data. The ticket application itself is a joint venture between 5 Zurich based companies (from different industries), who met every 6 months to make financial and planning decisions. The project replaced a structure where each property had its own dedicated system; the new system costs about 1/10 of the prior structure and requires less staff. An analysis of guest survey data with one hotel showed that guest satisfaction increased about three months after deployment of the tool, and interaction between departments improved. Next year MÖvenpick plans to add a mobile app and investigate the possibility of integrating with property management systems. The award was accepted by Thomas Nievergelt, Director of Business Applications and Processes for MÖvenpick.

Hotel Lugano Dante Center - Seeking to differentiate its four-star property though outstanding customer service, the hotel developed the Happy Guest Relationship Management (HGRM) tool from the ground up. Starting in 2009, the hotel distributed iPhones and iPads to all staff of the organization, to allow for full engagement with the guest. Starting from the guest reservation, confirmation, arrival, through the in-room experience and the entire customer journey, guests receive a fully personalized hotel experience. Guest can directly communicate with reception staff for any need, from check-in to guest room personalization in great detail: room temperature, pillow and bedding types, minibar beverages, amenities for children and much more -- even down to personalizing the toilet paper. The relationship with the guest continues also after the stay, which has resulted in increased guest loyalty and direct bookings.

There is almost no paper used by the property and most every document that used to be printed, is now available to staff member within a few seconds. Guests who use the system rate the hotel very positively in online ratings services, thus improving their brand reputation and earning the hotel the greatest number of online guest comments in Switzerland. Both the Harvard Business School and Bournemouth University (UK) wrote up the HGRM innovation as a case study in a creative approach to customer service. Dr. Carlo Fontana, the General Manager of Hotel Lugano Dante Center, accepted the award.
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