Hôtel des Arts Saigon GM: “People now want to have virtual companions”

TD speaks with hotel GM Carl Gagnon

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Carl Gagnon, general manager, Hôtel des Arts Saigon
Carl Gagnon, general manager, Hôtel des Arts Saigon

Moving further into the future of hospitality, Hôtel des Arts Saigon has introduced an AR (augmented reality) mobile app to enhance the hospitality experience both in and out of the hotel. The new mobile app, which includes a 360 virtual hotel tour, aims to provide a different look at things — stimulating the experience for the guest, while also giving them access to the hotel’s range of attractions.

To find out more about the recent tech announcement, we’ve gained insights from Carl Gagnon, general manager at the helm of the prestigious Hôtel des Arts Saigon.

TD: How does technology help both the guests and the hotel? What kind of impact does it create?

CG: It’s undeniable that we’re living in a new digital world. You can witness the growth of technology in Vietnam in general and it has gradually been integrated into a different industry and hospitality is no exception. For our discerning guests, even a Wi-Fi speed is becoming a commodity — as important as water and electricity. Their definition of ‘luxury’ goes hand in hand with ‘digital convenience’.

“Not just when they travel but in the way they live”

Accor is putting a big focus on this with the unveiling of our new lifestyle loyalty programme, ‘ALL’ (Accor Live Limitless), which will be launched by the end of 2019. ALL is a global platform integrating rewards, services, and experiences across the entire ecosystem of Accor to bring value to everyday life whether you work, live or play. The lifestyle loyalty program will be delivered through a new app and website that will allow members to access the world of Accor. It will give consumers one place to find all our brands to make their experiences better not just when they travel but in the way they live.

At a hotel level, to be at the pace of that digital and technology game is a challenge for all hotels. And if we do it well, we can really enhance the guest experience in many ways. Knowing the preference, being able to talk to them in real-time through a device, faster check-in process — some of the guests are looking for that kind experience.

Some guests also look at a place where there is no one to serve them because they believe that technology is more efficient than human beings sometimes. There is a report online that talks about ‘avoiding humans at all costs’ – they are the new generation of travellers.

“People now want to have virtual companions”

People now want to have virtual companions — virtual applications that make them go to virtual reality that provides experience and cracks a smile because it’s new, fresh, innovative and clever. It’s a new form of communication.

In some places in the world, there are robot chefs that don’t interact with the guests. In our case, we still want to embrace human interaction as our hotel is best known for our bespoke services.

This new augmented reality application that we offer to our guests is purely to enhance their current experience with the hotel, not replacing what they already had.

For example, guests can ‘advise’ themselves before coming here with the 360 virtual hotel tour, explore all the stories about the hotel through objects and artworks while staying in the hotel, enjoy their time more effectively by booking services in advance through the app, entertain themselves with mini-games and reward themselves with a wide range of offers across the outlets.

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