With a degree in tourism and studies in management computer engineering, Carlos Domínguez has spent a whopping 25 years in companies in the hospitality sector. There he has forged his specialization in areas such as innovation, hotel distribution, process automation, digital transformation or accommodation management to name a few. He has holded positions such as operations manager and director of quality, processes and strategic plan at Idiso (Meliá Hotels International Group), operations and business development manager at Talonotel, assistant to commercial management at Bancotel or tourism business consulting manager at Soluziona (Union Fenosa). He is currently responsible for new technologies and hotel operations at the Instituto tecnológico Hotelero (ITH) and also collaborates with universities such as UNED and UCAM, contributing with his knowledge on technology, innovation and marketing in tourism. Carlos is as well is co-author of the book “Business decisions and support tools” .
With all this background we are delighted that he is the guest star of our second #easygoing, so come in and read.
How long have you been working for the turistic/hospitality industry?
I have developed my entire professional career in the touristic sector since more than 25 years
In which sense do you think technology can improve guest experience?
Technology is that “fifth element” that is part of our lives. It is very difficult to see someone trying to navigate a road with the “Campsa Road Guide” or a paper map. Without realizing it, we have more technology in our day to day than we think. It helps us make our lives easier, whether it is guiding us with a navigator to our destination, making it easier for us to make a reservation, having up-to-date and immediate information on almost anything, etc.
Almost without realizing it, we have gone from using simple telephones, to smartphones with keyboards. Now we have smartphones that are authentic minicomputers. We have gone from typing on our devices to making requests by voice using virtual assistants. We have changed the way we search for information by personalizing what we are interested in and discarding what we do not want to reach us.
Along these lines, I believe that technology will continue to act, and we will continue to use it to make our day-to-day life easier.
How do you think hotels can take advantage of digitization?
The digitization of some processes has been a great advance in the hotel industry. The hotel is beginning to take advantage of the data it collects during its clients’ stay. In this way it is possible to get to know them better to meet their expectations and even surprise them by anticipating their needs.
Any experience at this level has an immediate impact on the part of customers who enjoy their services when they share it through social networks. This has a double benefit, since the client is the best commercial and prescriber of the hotels.
At which point of the digital transformation do you think we are in Spain?
According to studies we have carried out, the perception of the level of digital transformation by the sector is higher than reality.
The concept of digital transformation is not generic. You cannot use the same yardstick for a vacation hotel as for a business hotel, or for an independent hotel as for a chain hotel. Everyone has their digital reality in constant transformation, and the new conditions marked by the pandemic have accelerated many technology adaptation processes. However, now more than ever, much remains to be done.
How do you think the industry is committed to multichannel?
From the new reality that we live in, multichannel is a clear bet within what companies in the sector can afford to invest. However, there are many ways for companies to “fine tune” by selecting the most profitable channels on which to support their strategy.
Which is the biggest challenge you think you face regarding processes digitization?
From the ITH we see that hotels currently consider among their greatest challenges selecting digitization processes that allow them to be more cost efficient and offer their customers greater interaction with services digitally, either at check-in and check-out as in constant communication with the client during their stay.
What impact do you think digitization has had in your particular case?
From our perspective, we see that hotels have prioritized digitization as a means of adapting to this new digital reality in which the client needs more autonomy and more security.
On the part of technology companies we have perceived many adaptations and new innovative developments to digitize processes. In the case of hotels, we receive requests for information to be able to filter and address the incorporation of technology that allows them to reengineer processes where the client can choose the degree of physical contact they want to have with the services of the establishment, thus preventing the possibility of contagion. For this, the solution goes through a redesign and the incorporation of technology and digitization of some processes
How do you face the new normal in your particular case?
At ITH we face it with a philosophy of adapting to a new way of doing things. A philosophy where technology takes on a leading role and where a world of opportunities for creativity and innovation opens up. In this way, the client will feel safer choosing establishments that continue in this direction. As well as the employee will also work safer knowing that he runs the least risk without ceasing to carry out his work efficiently.
Which role do you think digitization plays in the industry recovery?
Simplifying the digital transformation process and adopting digitization models implies reviewing the way in which companies relate to their environment: their customers, their employees and their suppliers.
Obviously, this way of relating has changed and either we review these processes and adjust them, or it will probably be more difficult for us to recover.
Which weight do you think COVID-19 has had in the industry digital transformation? And in your particular case?
It is obvious that the digital reality before COVID-19 was different from the one we found at the beginning of the pandemic and even different from the one we live in today. It has been the main reason why many transformation processes have been raised as a priority and their implementation has been accelerated.
On the one hand, we are working to help hotels to carry out a diagnosis as a starting point to make a digitization plan according to their needs. And on the other hand, we are involved in ensuring that certain manual processes may have the legal support to be digitized.
How do you think the hotel of the future will be like? What is your prognose about the future of the industry keeping in mind the current situation?
I think that, in general terms, the hotel tends to have everything connected in order to have more information that can be exploited through artificial intelligence. It will be a safe space both for the cleanliness of its rooms and for the protocols that it operates in its internal processes as well as for its clients. It will be a place where automated digital processes will provide data to make better decisions that will make life easier for customers and employees. They will be businesses that have learned how to quickly adapt to circumstances using the means available to them in their environment. As they have done recently, even offering themselves to be used as medical hotels or logistical support for health workers, carriers or law enforcement personnel, as well as transit customers with special needs during the pandemic.
In previous crisis, the tourism sector has been one of the last to fall and one of the first to rise. On this occasion, it was the first to fall but it will be one of the first to get up, since many people are looking forward to getting back to normal and going out to do tourism again.
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