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Technology Change with the times


To help safeguard guests from Covid-19 and improve contactless interactions, hoteliers are embracing technology like never before, but whether these short-term fi xes will modernise the industry across the board remains to be seen. As part of an ongoing series, tech leaders from across the hospitality sphere, from global brands to smaller boutique names, tell Hotel Management International how Covid-19 has affected the adoption of cloud technologies and how these changes will be manifested long-term.


Casper Overbeek, chief digital & experience officer at citizenM The biggest acceleration during Covid-19 has been the need for digital. We were forced into one gigantic online experience: fully remote working, more online retail and even streaming festivals. Digital is now so part of the consumer mindset that no cool feature will surprise us anymore, it is considered normal. I am fascinated by the emergence of the ‘flash delivery’. Here in Amsterdam, we have at least three start-ups delivering groceries within ten minutes. I was intrigued by the fact that their biggest audience are students. They admit that they are simply too lazy to walk 50m to a store and they don’t want to stand in line anymore. So, while this generation heavily influences consumer expectations, it also implies there is no ceiling in demand for convenience. In travel, the way we are able to live up to this demand will be a key driver of success: not in attracting new customers, but


rather in not losing them. Digital innovation is key to convenience. Therefore, citizenM never stopped investing in it, not even in the darkest days of the crisis. We launched our guest app, we built contactless journeys, we built better websites, we worked on digitising food ordering, and housekeeping. Ironically, this digital normality also made us appreciate the human touch even more. The joy of hugging our parents again, the first live concert or simply being served by an attentive waiter instead of endless takeaway meals. All these human interactions made us realise how much we need it. So, when we are travelling, the bar of good human service has raised as well. CitizenM thought about how to actually use digital solutions to boost the human experience. Now our app not only allows a frictionless journey, but also promotes chat interaction with the frontline team and takes the first steps in community thinking through badges and proactive communication.


Casper Overbeek


Hotel Management International / www.hmi-online.com


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zhu difeng/Shutterstock.com; headshot: citizenM


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