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NH Hotels is a member of the International Tourism Partnership and as such is committed to ensuring improved sustainability and best practice within their properties when it comes to reducing energy, carbon footprint, water and waste, whilst maintaining the guest experience.
Antonio Fernandez, SVP Projects, Construction & Engineering, NH Hotel Group describes their continued innovations that ensure sustainability whilst remaining guest-centric.
“Hotel guests today are not looking just for a ‘product’; a hotel with a sophisticated style or designed by a prestigious architect, their focus is more on user experience,” says Fernandez.
With nearly 400 hotels in the NH portfolio, Fernandez believes that for a truly unique guest experience, hotels must focus on being innovative. Renovation is not always the only way to add value to our business; hotels can create value delivering memorable experiences through innovation, he claims.
Fernandez is a speaker at the marcus evans Hospitality EMEA Summit 2014, in Montreux, Switzerland, 24 - 25 November.
Can you tell us about the Group’s innovation projects and use of new technologies?
We have been working on a project called “Living Lab Hotel”. It is a user-centred innovation project, and a pioneering initiative in the hotel industry, located in one of our flagship hotels in Madrid (NH Collection Eurobuilding).
The Living Lab Hotel project focuses on three strategic areas: technology testing in a real environment, start-up accelerator and open innovation.
Guests have access to a number of innovative technologies, most of which are not available in the market yet. This is the biggest differentiation point. They will be able to test these technologies and provide feedback so we can improve, discharge or implement them either in other areas of the hotel or at our hotels around the world.
The “start-up accelerator” is a space integrated in the hotel that serves as a hub where new companies with pioneering projects can develop, test and implement new products or services related to the hotel industry, as well as get mentoring and visibility with potential investors.
The third element, “open innovation” is a model that encourages employees, clients and suppliers to generate ideas that add value to our business, promoting collaboration and gathering feedback which will provide topics for the acceleration cycle as well as allow us to seek companies that can solve the problems raised in the open innovation forum.
How will these initiatives generate revenue for the hotel?
They will generate revenue as we develop a reputation of being the first and only hotel with such innovative technologies. We have already installed a 3D Hologram Projection system in two of our hotels (Madrid and Berlin) that allow live teleconferences with real full size images. Even with the most advanced video conference system, you just talk to a screen, but with our 3D Hologram System it is like talking to a real person standing on a stage. This unique technology has a huge potential for meetings and events.
Being innovative is a very important distinction point. Our vision is that one day, whenever anyone contemplates a trip to a city for an overnight stay or meeting, for business or pleasure, they will always ask themselves: “Is there an NH Hotel at my destination?”
What are hotel guests looking for?
It is no longer just a matter of the hotel style or designer. Although that remains important, and an excellent service is a must, today guests also appreciate having a “memorable experience”. The differentiation between product and experience comes from being innovative, providing a different user experience and an excellent service. That is what will add value.
How can hotels in the same chain be differentiated, despite common brand standards?
Brand standards are important so that our guests know exactly what to expect in terms of quality and service, but we try to avoid copy-pasting, having hotels and rooms that look always the same. Differentiation is key. We recently launched the NH Collection brand with the aim to provide an extraordinary experience incorporating local flavour into the design and menu.
About the Hospitality EMEA Summit 2014
The Hospitality EMEA Summit is the premium forum bringing elite buyers and sellers together. The Summit offers regional hotel project directors and expert suppliers and consultants an intimate environment for a focused discussion of key new drivers behind market leading conversions, renovations and greenfield projects. Taking place at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, Montreux, Switzerland, 24 - 25 November 2014, the Summit includes presentations on increasing capital expenditure in refurbishment and asset upgrade to drive ROI and building a distinct customer experience by expressing a property’s uniqueness through design, service and personality.