DUBAI—When ME Dubai opens next month in the Opus Building, it aims to offer a luxury experience throughout each of its 93 guestrooms, the Suite ME and 98 private apartments. Luxury, of course, means anticipating and providing for guest needs, from the big moments down to the smallest details—including in-room technology. The property has partnered with InnSpire to accomplish this by enabling guest control over everything from the temperature to lighting in the room.
“People who love and choose the ME by Meliá contemporary luxury brand are generally independent, digitally savvy and well-traveled,” said Stefan Viard, GM, ME Dubai. “They know what they want, and they seek it out over many more obvious elements in traditional luxury hotels. This includes the exceptional personalization of nearly all the experiences in our hotels. In our region of the Middle East, connectivity is almost standard; access to information to make decisions—whether about dining, transport, entertainment or just general comfort—is expected to be immediate. What they do not like is technology for the sake of it, or services that are clumsy or irrelevant.”
The right kind of technology, he said, is neither invasive nor time-consuming. “The luxury of having technology-enabled service for our guests at ME Dubai is to make every part of their stay comfortable, easy, memorable and tailored to their needs,” Viard said.
“Guests seek out technology to make every aspect of their stay easier and more accessible,” agreed Martin Chevalley, CEO at InnSpire. “Newer technologies are also sought out for their ability to provide consistency and one fluid experience from the moment that a guest arrives to when their stay ends. The rise of more advanced innovations is also providing hoteliers with the ability to fully address the desire that each guest possesses in wanting to feel seen and taken care of at all times.”
This is particularly important in luxury locales. “In contrast to more basic locations where the aim is to simply obtain ‘more heads in beds,’ luxury properties such as ME Dubai further seek to leverage technology to enhance the level of direct interaction that luxury guests demand,” Chevalley said. “Such guests also expect to find technology that can offer a more personalized guest journey. With luxury properties often serving as destination hotels where guests spend a significant amount of their time on site, the fact that a hotel itself becomes the destination means that guests will identify themselves more with the brand and the experience that the hotel has to offer. This makes it all the more crucial for such properties to take advantage of technology in order to provide a seamless guest-to-hotel interaction process.”
When looking for a technology solution, it’s important to put the guest first and create a seamlessly simple, convenient and personalized experience, according to Viard. “InnSpire understands the ME by Meliá brand, having worked with the group on a number of projects and solutions for properties in different parts of the world. It has been a good partner for us,” he said.
InnSpire is implementing its full-featured Guest Journey App and its InnCable in-room TV solution—a move that enables the hotel to offer the smart TV experience without limiting its choice of TV hardware. Because the cable itself is a self-contained IPTV set-top box, InnCable allows hotels to flexibly allow smart TV capabilities anywhere on property, using virtually any screen available. InnSpire will also be responsible for the property’s WiFi network. Each piece will work together to provide a seamless experience.
“ME serves as a very vibrant and trendy brand, which requires it to provide guest-facing experiences that are unique and stylish,” Chevalley said. “When it comes to offering guests such functionality, the challenge is to make what is actually a quite complicated process seem simple and function in a user-friendly manner. For example, Chromecast is a very popular product in consumer homes and now increasingly in hotels. Yet setting up a consumer device at home is a completely different prospect compared to ensuring its successful implementation within a commercial environment. For hotels, it requires tremendous effort and resources to ensure that such devices are independently functioning, secure and updated. This becomes even more laborious when considering that each device must be reset and safely configured for every single guest.”
Chevalley said that some providers previously used to deliver casting functionality using a process known as “stacking,” where only a few devices were available and were “stacked” in a hotel’s basement or server room. Each guest who wanted to cast content would then “call” one of those devices in order to cast temporarily. “However, this was clearly not legal from a license perspective as content would need to be broadcasted from the basement or server room, which meant that it was being rebroadcasted,” he said. “InnSpire never opted to follow this route, and instead sought to lead the industry in pushing casting functionality and abilities to new heights with the development of InnCable. Designed specifically to address the unique challenges of the hospitality industry, InnCable is virtually a computer within a cable and acts as an IPTV solution that provides guests with all of the features of a smart TV while eliminating the need for complex set-top-box integrations. By simply connecting one end to an Ethernet socket and the other to a television’s HDMI port, InnCable instantly converts guestroom televisions into media centers where guests can access personal streamed subscriptions, music, photos and online videos. Live television channels can also be accessed along with the ability for guests to view and request additional hotel amenities. Hoteliers can even share promo information and sponsored content, while guests can obtain an array of additional convenience-enhancing services such as remote checkout, scheduling wakeup calls along with mobile device control over televisions and in-room amenities such as thermostats and lighting.”
Speaking of ME Dubai specifically, he noted, “In seeking to provide its guests with the ultimate in digital guest journeys, a multitude of unique integrations were required in order to provide each guest with a seamless and fully personalized experience from check-in to checkout. As a property that offers both luxury guestrooms and private apartments, ME Dubai also needed a similar technical platform for both environments that could nonetheless fully cater to the unique needs of guests and residents.”
“ME Dubai is in a unique building—designed by the late Zaha Hadid—and the hotel has been designed by her in its entirety,” Viard added. “We believe the technology elements provided by InnSpire complement her vision of a hotel where the interconnectedness of Eat/Stay/Play comes to life in every part of a guest’s stay.”
Chevalley noted that ensuring a successful implementation is derived from understanding the GM’s vision. “This involved the challenge of ensuring that all systems and platforms could work together, one of InnSpire’s leading strengths,” he said. “The pre-installation phase took approximately six to 12 months, with installation preparations lasting three to six months and actual rollout consisting of one month. ME Dubai has yet to open, but InnSpire looks forward to the beginning of training and introducing both staff and teams to our advanced solution.” HB