Dubai – MENA Herald: During GITEX 2016, Cisco introduced a suite of solutions which help hotels and resorts deliver superior experiences for guests and visitors, and which generate multiple revenue streams, greater productivity and reduced costs. Cisco also called for the regional hospitality sector to invest in innovative technologies to not only remain competitive but also differentiate their services to meet unique and fast evolving guest expectations.

The hotel industry estimates that over 300 new hotels will open in the Middle East and Africa in 2017. The UAE accounts for nearly 20 percent of this development, and with Expo 2020 and its expected 25 million visitors only a few years away, Dubai alone has over 130 hotel projects in the pipeline. Major regional events such as the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar are also driving hotel expansion. In this highly competitive environment, hotels are increasingly looking to technology to stand out and differentiate their offerings.

At GITEX 2016, Cisco and GBM, a Cisco Gold Partner, are demonstrating the power of Cisco’s latest technology solutions to deliver personalized guest experiences, improved management of operations, enhanced sales and marketing approaches, and reduced costs. One of the key solutions to be demonstrated is a new guest engagement platform for the hospitality industry, developed by IPera, a Cisco Developer Partner. The innovative ‘mobile app’ is built on Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences (CMX) technologies and allows hotels to recognize their guests and identify where they spend most of their time, delivering targeted messages based on their location.

“Now is the time for hotels in the region to evolve their technology strategies and take advantage of the impact digitization can have on their business. To meet evolving guest expectations, it is important for hotels in the region to use mobility in a smart way to build guest loyalty and increase room revenues through customized services and content,” said Shukri Eid, Managing Director – East Region, Cisco Middle East. “We are excited to showcase a unique guest engagement platform built on Cisco’s CMX wireless technologies that will help hotels deliver a personal, tailored and more easily integrated guest experience at all stages of their visit.”

The fast pace of development is creating challenges for both existing players and new entrants in the hospitality sector and they are looking towards technology as an enabler to remain competitive, differentiate from other competitors and build loyalty amongst customers. Technology plays a crucial role in enabling better service and stronger operations. However, hotels will have to build analytics capabilities, keep up with advances in mobility and optimize existing touch point channels in order to apply technology strategically to create differentiated customer experiences.

“GBM’s in depth understanding of the hospitality sector, its deep technical competency around Cisco wireless and mobile technologies, and its competency in building connected applications, are assets that can help leading hospitality end users achieve their business, financial and marketing objectives,” explained Hani Nofal, Vice President, Intelligent Network Solutions, Security and Mobility, GBM. “Mobility is transforming the way we travel and spend our time while away from home. Guests now expect ubiquitous connectivity for all their devices and applications, along with customized offers, content and guest services.”

Most hotel mobile apps provide information services with some guest specific applications such as bill viewing and setting alarms. What sets out the guest experience platform being showcased by Cisco and its partners is its integration capabilities with smart WLAN infrastructure to deliver seamless location-based services. This allows for a number of unique features that include locating indoor positioning and the ability to quickly recognize guests when they arrive at the hotel lobby or dining outlets. It also offers guests and visitors enhances customer experiences such as convenient wayfinding across the property and mobile payment options for restaurants, retail, and other service and food and beverage outlets.

The guest engagement platform presents hotels with additional revenue opportunities through cross-venue marketing, providing greater return on investment. Connected to facility operations at the back end, the platform also allows hoteliers to enhance their customer loyalty programmes and develop their digital communication strategies based on guest profiles and location, otherwise known as proximity marketing.

The platform can be scaled across other properties operating under the same brand, is built for connected devices like smartphones and tablets, and provides a wide range of touch points and engagement features and can be used at hotels, restaurants, conferences, lounges, concierge desks, and other places of customer and staff engagement. It supports multichannel integration using SMS, social media platforms, email, mobile applications, push notifications and virtual word of mouth marketing. Emergency alerts issued by the venue will also be visible to all users while on-premises.

Apart from the guest engagement platform, Cisco and GBM are also showcasing their latest solutions for the region’s hospitality industry. Senior executives from both companies are available at Cisco’s stand number Z-B40, Zabeel Hall at GITEX Technology Week 2016 to meet with customers and partners.