Atlantis, The Palm hotel has been in operation from 2008. Today the hotel is one of the best in the UAE and MENA region primarily because it has integrated technology in its operations and practices. The hotel installed the AirWatch, which saw 150 iPods and employee-owned smart phone devices being deployed in the hotel`s operations. This has significantly benefited the organization and improved the organization`s productivity. The integration of the technology was important to the hotel numerous fronts. Firstly, it has allowed the organization to streamline its internal processes and improve the experience for its customers. Secondly, the hotel is now able to offer numerous new services to its customers. Similarly, the fully integrated system allows administrators to monitor all the devices and implement updates without requiring employee interaction. Because of technology, the hotel`s productivity has remarkably improved in terms of improved customer experience andincreased customer traffic to the facility. Moreover, the fact that each housekeeping employee has an iPod allows the employees to be up to date with all housekeeping changes. This has eliminated delays and improved overall guest satisfaction.
Technology has a significant impact on organizational productivity. This is because information technology does not only affect the structure of the organization, but also its management and functions within the organization. The use of technology calls for new patterns of doing work and directly affects individual jobs and how they are performed. The integration of technology into an organization`s work processes leads to changes in authority, lines of command and may necessitate the need to change the organization structure and pay specific attention to job design. For example, when a new technology is introduced, it may result in a more flat organization structure with few management levels. Similarly, a new office technology permits employees to perform broad range of functions and supervise their own work. This leads to a change in the conventional supervisory role and leads to less demand for supervisors and frees organizational resources.This paper examines the impact of technology in a hospitality organization in the United Arab Emirates known as Atlantis, The Palm (Atlantis the Palm 1). The paper addresses the importance of integrating technology to the practice of the organization and the effect of technology on the productivity of the organization providing relevant examples.
Atlantis, The Palm was opened in 2008 September. The hotel became the first ever entertainment resort joint not only in the UAE, but also in the Middle East and North Africa(MENA) region. The hotel is situated at the center of the crescent of The Palm in Dubai. The distinctive ocean-themed resort offers a broad range of entertainment and marine attractions, in addition to 17 hectares of waterscape amusement at its Aquaventure Waterpark. It hosts one of the world`s largest open-air marine habitats, with more than 65,000 marine species in displays and lagoons (Eye of Arabia 2). The hotel`s Dolphin Bay gives its customers provides a unique opportunity to its customers to interact with dolphins and learn more about these graceful mammals. Within the MENA region, the hotel is referred to as culinary destination owing to its collection of many renowned restaurants that include Ronda Locatelli and Nobu. It also hosts luxury shops and boutiques and also offers convention and meeting facilities.The hotel has developed reputation as a provider of excellent services to its customers primarily because of the significant contribution made by its housekeeping employees.
2.1 The need for Enterprise Mobility Management Technology at the Hotel
The organization uses a technology known as AirWatch. This technology is a product of VMware, a company specializing in the development of enterprise mobility management software. The AirWatch technology incorporates email, mobile device, content, application, and browser management solutions. A company can implement this technology across different types of devices and can even be customized to allow employees to use their own devices at the workplace. Atlantis, The Palm has adopted this technology and allows each of its housekeeping employees to use mobile devices. Before the organization adopted this technology, each of the organization`s housekeeping employees was issued with a printed sheet that lists the rooms that each one of them had to clean. However, this method had significant challenges. The major problem was that this method failed to take into account all the necessary housekeeping changes, which included guests who checked out late and guests who did not want to be disturbed by housekeepers. Because of delays occasioned by these types of guests, the organization was wasting a significant amount of man-hours during peak periods (Glaser and Claudia 35).
In seeking a sustainable solution to this problem, the organization undertook a market research to identify a technology (a software-based solution) that could change the manner in which the organization was assigning and managing its housekeeping roles.The organization integrated its front-of-house computer systems, which allowed the hotel to keep room information up to date for its housekeeping employees (Lockwood and Medlik 67). This solution necessitated the need for each employee to use an iPod connected to a network within the hotel. To support and set up more than 150 iPods for the facility, the hotel required a mobility management solution to permit comprehensive mobile device administration. Allowing employees to bring their own devices at work was equally an important alternative for the organization. Previously, only the management team was allowed to use BlackBerry devices to access company email. However, other employees had expressed their desire to use their personal phones in accessing the organization`s resources and email. As a result, an enterprise mobility management technology that could support employees to bring their own devices was important in achieving increased employee productivity (Glaser and Claudia 46).
3.0 Importance of Integrating Technology to the Practice of the Organization
The technology was rolled out by VMware in collaboration with the organization`s IT team to streamline the hotel`s operations. Moreover, the employees were given comprehensive technical training on the technology. The organization has successfully implemented the enterprise mobility management technology solution. This technology has not only permitted the company to go mobile, but has allowed the luxury hotel to reengineer its operations. Because of the technology, the organization successfully implemented ‘bring your own device’ program for its employees. This has enabled the hotel to streamline its internal processes and improve the five-star travel experience for its customers. The implementation of AirWatch technology significantly streamlined the housekeeping operations in the organization`s expansive housekeeping department, with numerous productivity benefits. To begin with, the organizationwas able to significantly increase its efficiencies. Secondly, the technology created significant cost savings because it offers a reliable platform that allows the administration of the devices to be done from a central point.
From a productivity point of view, the organization is now able to offer numerous new services to its customers. This has significantly improved customer experience at the organization. For instance, the use of mobile devices in operations has allowed employees to use their mobile devices in accessing reservation details, expediting check-in process and streamlining housekeeping tasks. The luxury resort, which has developed reputation for offering excellent services, makes use of iPods to assign employees to clean guest rooms based on various factors, which include special guest requests and availability of guests. Moreover, using this technology the resort has managed to offer digital menus to its guests on tablets as opposed to menus printed on paper. This also makes it easy for the employees to update the menus dynamically. The organization has a total of 150 iPods and nearly 800 other mobile devices that are managed and secured by AirWatch. In addition, through the bring your own device program, the organization`s employees are able to connect to the company`s network and receive corporate emailsand safely access the internet (AirWatch 2). This has substantially boosted the organization`s efficiency and enhanced productivity across the organization. The integration of the technology in the hotel`s operations has allowed the facility not only to meet the challenges associated with the hospitality industry, but has also enabled the business to provide unparalleled customer services to its guests. Through the AirWatch technology, the facility has transformed itself from an organization that was previously based on traditional customer service model to a company that can efficiently mobilize its housekeeping employees, management and restaurant servers (AirWatch 3).
The company uses technology in its core information processing centers that include distribution, marketing, back office, front office and food and beverage control. Various technologies have diffused in the hotel`s key areas of operations that include reservations, sales and marketing, room management, guest accounting, telecommunications, safety and security. Distribution of products is a significant component of the organization`s operations. As a result, technology tools such as computerized reservation systems and digital brochures on IPods have assisted the organization in the marketing and distribution of its rooms and bed nights. For the resort, the deployment of information technology to connect its back office, front office and beverage and food departments has resulted in efficient and cost efficient delivery of its services to its clients. In addition, its online presence and the availability of mobile site have given the business sufficient online presence. This has enabled the company to have access to international markets that has led to increased revenues from international guests.
Moreover, the hotel boasts of a well-developed reservation system with sufficient customer information. This allows the hotel to generate the necessary reports on issues such as the availability of rooms and room cancellations. Furthermore, using its database, the hotel is able to generate forecasts on the expected guest arrivals, rooms sold and guest departures, which allows management to plan accordingly. The information kept and generated by the hotel`s reservation system is a major asset for the business because it gives the company useful marketing information, and the hotel is able to document its client profiles and their preferences. Its technology-based reservation system also permits the hotel to conduct tour operator and travel agency analysis to determine which tour companies and agencies generate businesses consistently for the organization. In terms of communication, technology has helped the business in improving its communications in two distinct ways. Firstly, at the internal level, it has enhanced the inter-departmental communication. Externally, it has improved the way the hotel communicates with its suppliers, agents, data networks and reservation systems. This has been made possible by the integration of technology in its operations (Lockwood and Medlik79).
Because the technology is fully integrated to the hotel`s practices, administrators are able to monitor all the devices and implement updates without requiring employee interaction. This not only reduces time wastage, but also ensures that the workers carry out their duties seamlessly. The technology has allowed the facility to reduce check-in lines for its customers by providing its employees with booking details on their iPads. Given that the hotel is able to monitor all the company devices, the company managed to recover its return on investment in just a few months after the new technology was adopted and implemented. Other than improving employee satisfaction, allowing the workers to bring and use their own mobile devices has meant that the organization incurs fewer costs in terms of lost devices that have to be replaced and broken devices that need to be fixed. All these benefits associated with the integration of the new technology have put the organization ahead of its competitors(Lockwood and Medlik81).
The Effect of Technology on the Productivity of the Organization
4.1 Mobile Site Has Improved Customer Experience
The use of AirWatch technology has resulted in numerous productivity benefits for the organization. To begin with, the company made a decision to develop a mobile website with user friendly design for users on the move. The mobile site runs parallel to its desktop site because there are many customers who currently use their smart devices in browsing the internet. As a result, it was significant that the hotel`s brand be available on mobile. Many hotel customers often conduct their research through their mobile devices when on the go, but later do the booking through their desktops, tablets or other computing devices. Because of the Air Watch technology, the luxury resort successfully launched its mobile site in 2011 April. The mobile site was quite identical to its desktop site offering the similar services and an identical scrolling menu. However, its booking process was quite different and incorporated a click to call function and a dedicated customer line. Moreover the site was designed in three languages- English, Russian, and Arabic. The new website has provided significant productivity improvements. It has not only allowed easy access to information, but has also simplified the booking process which has seen many guests happy. Moreover, the mobile and desktop websites are synchronized such that once the desktop site is updated; the mobile site gets updated automatically (AirWatch 2).
4.2 Achieving Customer Traffic Using Low Cost Mobile Ads
Web development must be responsive if it is to meet the needs of users who access the company`s web through multiple devices or different platforms. To the organization, a responsive design reduces the costs associated with development and offers a complete and reliable solution for the company`s brand. Using the technology deployed, the hotel is now capable of using a numerous Google services. These include remarketing, YouTube, paid search, Google Display Network, Google Maps and Google Mobile Ads. After the adoption of the technology, the company uses Mobile Ads to expand its general online brand visibility using the search and display strategy. This has boosted the facility`s productivity significantly. For instance, there has been a significant increase in customer awareness of the hotel`s mobile site and the new booking capabilities. As a result, the click-through rate has been remarkable. According to the organization, the click-through rate for its mobile site has performed much better compared to that of its desktop site. The new technology permits customers to directly engage with the business. Because of Google Mobile Ads, the facility’s mobile site currently attracts approximately 22% of the hotel`s total visits, but only 10% of its per click budget goes to mobile advertisement. Moreover, the resort has successfully managed to reduce costs considering that the costs of managing its mobile platforms is 43% less compared to the cost of managing desktop computers (Yates and John 115).
In addition, the technology is more straightforward and therefore easy to use. For instance, the hotel is able to run multiple marketing campaigns simultaneously. This has helped the organization in achieving its goal of increasing customer engagement and business transactions. In particular, the technology has had a significant impact on the number of local customers booking day visits to some of the amenities offered by the facility, for example, the Dolphin Bay, Aquaventure waterpark, and The Lost Chambers aquarium. It has equally allowed the customers to make entertainment and restaurant bookings online without having to visit sales agents. With the technology, the hotel recently rolled out a mobile application that is compatible with different platforms including Windows 8, android, iPad, and iPhone. These apps offer a broad range of services that include day interactions and room bookings. In addition, the app directs users to the hotel`s mobile site where they carry out all the transactions. This has permitted online booking of restaurants through the app while on the go. Customers can now book online either through the organization’s desktop or mobile websites. In addition, the organization is able to track all mobile and non-mobile transactions. All these have seen the organization attract a growing volume of new business because of the reliable, comprehensive solution that the technology delivers for its brands, which gives its visitors access to its products and services even on the go ((Yates and John 117).
Prior to the deployment of the AirWatch technology, the productivity of workers at the resort was frequently affected negatively by system crashes and other PC-associated problems. However, with the implementation of the new technology, these challenges have been eliminated to a large extent both in the front office and back office areas.
5.2 Enhanced Data Security
One of the major reasons why the hotel implemented the new technology was to enhance data and endpoint security. Because of the technology, it is difficult for data to be inappropriately from the facility on device such as USB sticks and other portable external storage devices. Moreover, all the facility`s information are stored in a secure data center rather than on a standalone personal computer. This makes it easy to protect the data from an unauthorized access. In addition, the fact that the facility has locked-down desktops and computers helps in protecting its network from unnecessary breaches and prevents malware and other security threats from being introduced in the network. The technology has also prevented the inappropriate use of the hotel`s resources because the devices are monitored and their location and software installed in them can be tracked. This also prevents employees from keeping their personal files in the company`s iPods and computers. Every night, the organization`s devices are reimaged remotely. This ensures that all unnecessary files are deleted from the system. This has significantly enhanced the operational efficiency of the devices and enhanced security. The costs associated with security breaches are often significantly high. According to a survey done in 2007, the average cost for each security breach was estimated at $350,000. Similarly, average losses linked to theft of confidential data were estimated at $5.7 million for each incident. In addition, the losses associated with network or data sabotage were estimated at $1.1 million for every incident (Google Inc.7). Because of the technology, the hotel has managed to prevent such losses and costs thereby improving its bottom line and enhancing the reputation of the business.
5.3 Enhanced User Experience
The implementation of the new technology has enhanced the user experience for all workers in the different departments at the luxury hotel. To begin with, the IT department has significantly benefited from the system for several reasons. Firstly, the amount of effort required to support personal computers and mobile devices has been significantly reduced. This implies that the IT team can now channel their efforts on more demanding work. This has given employees in the department a greater sense of empowerment. Furthermore, there are less IT emergencies that require IT personnel to fix the machines. In turn, the IT department makes use of the resources that have been freed up by the technology to reengineer the hotel`s user support function. Rather than relying only on desktops, the IT department has successfully implemented a multi-tier support structure that supports smart phones and personal computers simultaneously (AirWatch 2).
Front office and back office employees have also benefited from the technology. The experience of these workers has been significantly improved as a result of technology adoption and integration. They no longer have to deal with the frustration of getting a computer to use or having to wait as their computers are being fixed, which makes them lag behind in their work. For front office staff, they have easy access to their desktops and even when they are moving around the hotel, they can still access information through their mobile devices.
Housekeeping staff have also seen the benefits of technology integration. Before the technology was implemented, housekeeping staff were working in printed material. In many cases, their work used to be affected by guests who stay longer in the rooms and those who did not want to be disturbed in the course of their stay (Google Inc.5). This situation has since changed. They can now access all room and guest requests from their iPods.
5.4 Enhanced Disaster Recovery Capabilities at the Hotel
An additional benefit that the hotel continues to realize relates to enhanced business continuity and capabilities to recover from disaster. Before the implementation of the technology, the organization`s information used to be kept on a single computer. Despite having backups and other safety precautions, the hotel faced the risk of losing information or difficulties in recovering lost data. However, after the implementation of the technology, the facility`s information are kept in centralized and secured data centers. This has eliminated all the past concerns that the resort had. The new technology is designed in such a manner that no information can be lost; as a result, employees are able to carry out their duties without any glitches. This has been achieved by having extra hardware capacity that can tackle the resort`s data recovery requirements in the event that a disaster happens. Moreover, the fact that the facility has PCs and that information can be remotely accessed through mobile devices means that employees can have easy access to the necessary information even when they are out of their work stations (Google Inc.5).
Based on the analysis and discussion, it is evident that the resort has significantly benefited from the integration of technology in its entire operations. Technology should be regarded as strategic tools and not mere tactical issues. The resort`s management have driven the technology agenda. This has enabled the organization to achieve significant productivity improvements and cost reduction. The technology at the hotel not only assists in decision making, but also guides the actions of employees at different levels. Because of the use of technology, the hotel has gained reputation as the provider of best customer services in the UAE and indeed in the MENA region. Similarly, the use of smartphones has reduced the costs associated with maintaining PC hardware and enhanced data security. The ability of the facility to recover from disaster has also been significantly boosted. Most importantly, the productivity of the employees at the facility and their working experience has been significantly enhanced.
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