Transcript (in English) So hello, my name is Ian Miller. I'm a faculty member here at EHL in Lausanne and have been for the last 21 years. My specialization area is everything around hospitality technology and linked with obviously digital transformation. In industry, I work with quite a few startups in that space. I'm the chair of HITEC Europe, which is Europe's largest hospitality technology conference and in 2020 I was the receiver of the Paragon Award, which is a hospitality industry lifetime achievement award.
I mean, obviously you know, within hospitality, there's a lot of opportunity to bring in new technology. We are still a little bit behind. If I take one concrete example that I was part of was actually, it was a project on voice recognition for the restaurant industry. Publicly, the idea of taking orders via voice, and this is quite a few years ago. At the time, it was something very new and we actually received a lot of interest from a certain fast food hamburger restaurant with golden arches. And we did a lot of proof of concept for their drive-through and we actually managed to speed up by about 30% the speed in which they can get cars through the drive-through. And obviously that equates obviously want more revenue, better flow, breaking it. Obviously, that was a little bit easier. That's a very forward-thinking company. But definitely, I’ve worked a lot with mainly hotels, but hotels and restaurants in especially digital customer journey and just to improve the digital experience that they give their guests as well as their employees.
It wasn't about the technology. It was more about the process, so, in terms of process, what happened was: the car would drive in, there would still place the order like before with the person, ‘Hello, welcome, what would you like, can you say what you’d like to have?’ But then when they were preparing it, they’d have the order in a screen, pick up all the items. Put them in the bag and then somebody would then double cheque what was in the bag, was it correct and then it would be put into the car.
Well, we said ‘no, that's an extra-process’. So, the employees would wear headsets linked to a mobile phone in our system and when they picked up an item you know, picked up a coke, fries... They would actually talk into the microphone and that would have reduced the order. So basically when they were preparing, the order was also the order verification. So they actually removed a step in on the big order can be up to literally a minute, a minute and 1/2 or a minute and ½. In the world of fast food, it is actually a very long time, you know. So we made the preparation also the verification to put two steps into one unit. And when we were really getting really good at it, they were sometimes getting through 60 cars in 15 minutes which is extremely fast.
An interesting part of this, there was a knock-on effect that we didn't even think about , which was actually: with the restaurants doing that, the sit-down sales increased, and no one could work out why. We've analysed all the restaurants and only the ones who were using this system had increased sit-down revenue and then we worked out why. Because we were moving cars so much faster, the car park was empty, hence people driving cars ‘Oh look. It seems really empty. Let's have a quick lunch.’ Instead of seeing loads of cars, and ‘oh it looks really busy. I'm not gonna go’.
And we didn't think about it, and we weren't even in touching that part of the operation, but it was just a natural knock-on effect. We're a very traditional industry, you know. And we also were very traditional in terms of the processes that we do. And I said, it's not really about the technology, it's more about ‘what process are you fixing?’
Simple example: checking in the hotel with the year 2022, why do we still check in in a hotel in the way that we do. So I made my reservation with you, I give my credit card number, you have all my information and when I come to check in, what do you do again? You ask my credit card again, you ask my passport again, you then type away on the computer for 5 minutes, before I get my key card.
This is a bit archaic. You know, sometimes if there are legal constraints, it depends on the country. But looking at a good example is Citizen M hotels: you have a Check-in kiosk. If you look how we travel nowadays, we all use airline apps - I recently had an EasyJet flight. Yeah, I actually loved it. Happy, so simple. I have a reservation. Download my boarding pass, you know, and I did everything myself ... What's wrong with that? You know? So, it's processes that we can fix, this is very timely now and with the crisis of getting staff, some of the more old-fashioned processes require human intervention. We can modify.
For sure, I mean, technology should never replace the human aspect of hospitality. I've never said that, and I never will. You know, for example robots, will they take over the workforce? Well, I don’t think they will. Because you remove the essence of hospitality. Examples I've worked in one hotel and it was a 5-star hotel, and they were seriously considering putting in checking kiosks in the hotel. And naming no names, the example seems simple. We have a new type of clientele, we have our regular guests, but I have my new customer who might be 30 years old, works out in private banking, pulls up at the hotel in in his Porsche, he’s on the phone, he can afford my hotel, wants to stay in my hotel, he's on his phone, busy guy and he doesn't want to check in and stand in a queue. He literally just wants a mobile key. Just goes straight to his room, but he still wants my hotel.
It doesn't mean you're providing less hospitality. What you're actually doing is giving your customers choice, and that's what it's all about. If you want to stand in line and queue up and checking and speak to Maria the receptionist because you know her, that's your choice. You want to stay in a hotel and you want to go straight to your room, but you'd rather speak to Giuseppe the barman for half an hour later on; you're just giving your customers choice.
That's what that's the only thing it's about, I mean, we need to have a more technology and digital mindset. Globally it is an industry, that is for sure. You know, there are some people doing happening. Just in general, you know, especially when it comes to data we have so much data as an industry and we're not using it. And I think a great example, maybe to make a link back to the people I was talking about before, they're doing a new proof of concept again for their drive-through: when you drive up and you see the menu, right? Before you go and order, they're now doing dynamic menus, the menu is going to change based upon the time of the day and the weather. So if I drive to that and it's 3:00 o'clock in the afternoon and it's 30/32 degrees, what am I going to see? I'm not going to see big heavy burgers - I'm going to see ice creams.
You know they these are little things, but this is where intelligence kicks in. Why? Because you, you're pushing stuff to your consumer probably that they want more than the big cheeseburger and fries, right. So yeah, the data is there to use. That's just using literally clock data and weather data. Two most simplest things you can get, but you know, as a general industry, we're not really doing this... Voilà.