DRIVING THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE HOTEL OPERATIONS: BALANCING HUMAN TOUCH WITH TECHNOLOGY

FCS targets strong growth for its operational applications to support Hotel Operations Digital Transformation

Operational solutions are becoming mission critical item in the management of a hotel, and FCS is hard at work to provide innovative ways to lead & support that change. Pascale Chatelain recently joined the company as Vice-President – Global Sales, Marketing and Channels. We asked her what prompted her move and her vision for the future of the industry.

THERE IS NO GUEST EXPERIENCE WITHOUT STAFF EMPOWERMENT

I joined FCS 16 months ago as I could see the hospitality industry was going through a massive transformation journey with a huge potential to contribute to the revolution that will forever change the way the hotels are operating : Achieving the right balance between technology bene ts and workforce empowerment. FCS’ solid international footprint, its unique position as a trusted advisor to leading hotel brands, combined with innovation agility, are what made the differences and attracted me. FCS Customer portfolio is comprised of over 5,000 customers. It includes a wide range of hotel brands, hotel profiles/sizes from different market segments: Shangri-la, Banyan Tree but also Hilton, Marriott, IHG, Fairmont Raf es (AccorHotels), as well as unique brands such as The Langham in Chicago, Yotel in Singapore, the Five in Dubai, Taj Group in India, to cite only a few. I spent 15 years at Oracle Europe Middle-East & Africa– before its acquisition of Micros Fidelio Systems – working in various industries where the role of IT was growing fast as a core part of companies strategy, part of their competitive advantage and staff retention. The Hospitality industry is reaching that maturity, and I felt excited about the opportunity to bring that experience and combining it with FCS’ innovative technology with a human touch at the service of hotel clients.

What is the opportunity for FCS and its hospitality operations management solutions?

In the race for the best “GX” guest experience, hoteliers are thriving to deliver the best/most personalised experience to guests. Yet a personalised GX can only happen if hotel teams are empowered, and are freed up to do so. Staff empowerment can only happen through the right tools: Our service optimisation applications are used to automate functions that free up staff to spend more time with the guests. We aim at being a Face Up not Face Down application, giving staff the ability to concentrate on the guests and not on the technology. At FCS, we believe technology innovation should be at the service of people and not the other way around.

The way it works: FCS enables each hotel staff/department to connect to a single platform that allows for seamless & fluid communication. Staff & management are armed with the right tools to communicate faster and more efficiently, serve guests better, improve room turnaround time, fix room defects, track glitches and understand/track guest preferences… Ultimately, this will also improve staff loyalty and retention as tasks are made easier and relationships with guests are more favourable.

Hoteliers that understand the importance of innovating in the next decade recognize that standardized operations will act as a multiplier effect, impacting the bottom line while enhancing guest loyalty, quality of services, and gaining competitive edge. FCS helps hoteliers build that loyal bond with their guests.

The hospitality industry is fast growing in many regions where the shortfall of qualified staff makes it imperative for businesses to become more efficient and productive. The competitive landscape of the hospitality market, together with the consolidation of groups and brands, means that they have to be more creative in delivering a more personalised service to the guests without increasing workforce, impossible to do if everything has to be processed manually. They have to gain efficiencies elsewhere to allow time for a truly personalised approach.

In a hotel, speed & accuracy of service, is a critical part of the guest services. As in many other industries, having the right information at ones’ finger tips to make faster and educated decisions is critical. I believe that in providing the management and staff real-time information, they have a competitive advantage.

When I look at the market today, there is not one player that has conquered the market. In the same way a PMS is a must have for a hotel of any decent size, operational solutions are becoming a must-have as well.

It’s a labour-intensive market, but it’s also a people market. Depending on the brands strategies, high level or low level of guest touch points, it remains a human touch business about people. As much as robots may ful l some tasks, take care of your luggage, or check you in, operational excellence will remain people driven.

The best technology is the technology you don’t see.

THE RIGHT TECHNOLOGY IS THE ONE WE DO NOT SEE

Who benefits the most from your solutions?

Actually all stakeholders bene t from our solutions. It’s probably one of the few IT solutions that is a win-win-win for guests, hotel staff & management, and thus hotel owners and Brands. Moreover, it is evidently an important factor of seduction when it comes to attracting new and younger talent to the hospitality industry. The Economic Intelligence Unit reported that 60% of employees believe themselves more productive as a result of using technology. We truly believe that it is a game changer for the hospitality industry. From a pure economic standpoint our solutions have a very important impact of the bottom-line. To take only one example: automation and optimisation of preventive maintenance demonstrates better asset management and significant extension of asset longevity.

We understand that you have recently recruited hoteliers to work for FCS. What was the thinking behind that move?

The reason for hiring hoteliers is two- fold: firstly, to be at the heart of the FCS innovation, and secondly, to ensure we are hand-in-hand with the hoteliers as they go through that transformation.

Successful change management in any organisation requires complete staff adoption. Thus it is important for our clients to feel that we have an in-depth understanding on how we can best help them succeed in deploying solutions. Moreover to best understand how we can add value to the hotel operations of the 21st century, we need to live and breathe the hotel operations challenges. Working with our solutions expands beyond the scope of implementing technology, it is changing a lot of the ways the hotel operates, which is always a challenging factor on the human side for any hotel management.

FCS is a very successful business, with a strong footprint in Asia; how are you leveraging that success in Western markets?

Actually, we already have strong presence in Western markets, and we are further expanding by opening more offices around the globe. With our global HQ in Singapore, we are leveraging the Asian brands. We have a track record and success with very prestigious high-end luxury brands from Asia-Paci c who have helped us grow in the Western market where they have expanded. They equally represent a strong base for the international brands moving into Asia, which have been very fast adopters of FCS in the region with our existing footprint and track record.

The hospitality sector in the Middle East & Africa region is setting the pace for innovation, which has generated high demand for our comprehensive suite of tools and solutions, thus we opened a new office and customer service team in Dubai earlier this year.

An important objective for us is to raise further awareness of our solutions in the United States – we aim to gain increased visibility in the Americas. We have had some very unique and prestigious recent wins in the US and we have grown our operations in the US by opening an additional office in Washington DC.

How will FCS look to develop its successful technology platforms around the globe?
We have 13 sales offices around the world, and yet we don’t see ourselves as selling technology. The success of technology is how people use and adopt it. Good technology is invisible and the FCS mantra is innovation at the service of people.

Part of the strategy is in-depth innovation of the product and to have the handholding quality of service, not only before, but also post-deployment. The strategy is also in the solutions’ footprint – we have expanded much beyond housekeeping, engineering and job dispatch. FCS today has laundry, public space cleaning, and luggage, and more recently our analytics layer is further empowering hotelier’s managements.

FCS is an innovative company, what are its USPs?

What is unique is a combination of large footprint, solid experience, and constant reinvestment in research and development. This is at the heart of FCS go to market, which goes hand in hand with our customer intimacy. The hoteliers which have trusted us for years, appreciate our agility to grow with their requirements, but also help them embrace new technologies and propose innovative solutions to help achieve their strategies.

Moreover we are an open platform, as such we can integrate with other innovative companies on the market, whether IoT or new service players, our clients appreciate that openness and flexibility with FCS to meet their growth strategies.

We offer a business benefit to hotels around the world.


Photo: Pascale Chatelain, Vice-President – Global Sales, Marketing and Channels, FCS