Fidelis Hospitality is leveraging technology to affirm its customer-centric approach

Fidelis Hospitality is leveraging technology to affirm its customer-centric approach

With technology redefining the way companies operate, particularly in the hotel industry, it’s become vital to embrace the latest trends as part of a digital transformation to maintain an edge over rivals in the field.

As a manager of a number of key Ibis hotel brands under its parent organisation AccorHotels in a franchise agreement, Fidelis Hospitality oversees the development of its hotels through a firm customer centric approach. Sascha Dalig, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at Fidelis, believes that by operating with its customers at the forefront of decision making, it has enabled his company to thrive in the industry. “Our customers are extremely important. We’re always looking out for their comments to understand where we can do better,” says Dalig. “It’s up to us to put ourselves in the shoes of the guests and ask: what would I expect if I was staying here? If you’re able to set this point of view within the mindset of your team, then it’s an extremely successful mentality to have.”

Dalig worked in a variety of different positions in the hospitality sector across Germany, including spending time as a Director of Revenue Management and Vice President Operations Franchise before moving into his current role as COO in March 2019. “My background has completely revolved around hotels, from an apprenticeship to senior management position. People always tell me that it's an extraordinary way to go because I didn’t study or go to university – it’s all been hard work and gaining experience to reach this position.”

Utilising technology

In order to choose the right partner for electronic access control system for the IBIS Hotel in Landshut, Fidelis has continued the collaboration with Häfele, an international family owned business with a comprehensive range of products and services. “We love to work with Häfele and they’ve really emerged in the hospitality market. It's a strategic partnership for us because it’s a partner that’s running a secure system and also enabling the connectivity to Accor,” says Dalig. “Häfele are putting a lot of effort in to selling us the best solution and it’s that sort of support we look for when choosing a partner to work with.”

Fidelis operates with three property management systems – Oracle Opera, Protel and FOLS. Dalig believes these systems have allowed the company’s processes to take a step forward during its digital transformation. “In our latest opening we don’t have a reception anymore because we have enabled checking in on a mobile device,” explains Dalig. “Initially, it was quite a strange experience for the guests. For instance, I saw a guest arrive and ask where the reception was and he couldn’t believe that you could check-in via a smartphone device. One of the guests’ biggest concerns is about how they can settle their bills without a reception desk. However, that is easily remedied because all they need to do is submit an email address when they check in and the invoice is emailed when they check out.”

In order to allow guests a more stress-free stay from the beginning, Accor’s software has expanded to enabling its guests to check in prior to arrival at the hotel. “As soon as a guest arrives, all that’s left to do is to collect their key,” Dalig explains. “It’s a huge step forward because guests don’t need to sign on paper anymore and we have all of the information we need during the online check in. Guests can simply sign by using fingertips on a mobile device and it’s done. It’s really sped up the whole process.”

With Fidelis embracing technology that Accor originally implemented, Dalig stresses how important it is that new processes are strategic and purposeful. “Launching new technology is based around lots of trial and error. For every tool you introduce, it’s important to see the benefit for the team and the customer. I believe we can roll out 10 or 15 tools every year if we wanted to, but we have to ask ourselves, why are we doing this? If you can’t answer that question then there’s no point implementing new technology for the sake of it.”

Remaining sustainable

With the future in mind, Dalig has clear ideas on how the company can remain sustainable. “You have to be sure of the resources you use. We have hotel managers that overlook what resources are being used,” he explains. “A sustainability journey starts with small things such as checking to see how many newspapers are in the hotel and how many pieces of paper are thrown away each day. Through Accor, we have the opportunity to take part in the Planet 21 programme, which is a piece of software that monitors all your resources, energy and training of staff, and is considered the complete sustainability tool.”

“One of the next advancements that we hope to implement is the ability to open rooms with an NFC chip or via mobile devices which will negate the need for a room key. It could be the next major step to evolve this level of technology and we hope through implementing these processes it will enable us to become even more customer-centric,” summarises Dalig. “We want to continue to grow but it’s vital this happens in a smooth way. We won't take the decision to build a new hotel if we don’t see the rentability of it. There’s no point building one in a city such as London or New York just because we want a hotel in those cities. We must continue to calculate the risks to ensure there will always be a return on investment.”

Sascha Dalig