Hotelier’s Voice - Jayson Heron-Smith, Cordis Hotel NZ and a unified guest platform

In this episode we speak with Director of Sales & Marketing, Jayson Heron-Smith, at Cordis Hotels Auckland New Zealand part of Langham Hospitality which has had a big technology focus this year. Jayson talks us through the focus they’ve had on the tech stack and why they’ve made such grand investments for the future of the property.

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Included in the list is Data Protection, upgrades and system changes to F&B reservations systems, a new unified guest platform including g marketing databases, online gifting platform plus a new sales & catering (Delphi) platform, as well as new tools from the likes of Travelcick, STR & OTA insight to access additional insights.

Jayson looks after the 400 room Cordis which is in the process of expanding to 640 room with additional function space, and is the biggest hotel in New Zealand. A high priority in the global environment, Cordis is taking guest data and privacy seriously, especially since it is a luxury hotel chain and with the expectation on them that they will protect people’s information. 

Unified guest platforms

Using Opera as a base, Cordis Hotels has all systems talking to each other through the PMS, and with Synxis (reservation system) and marketing data systems, F&B reservations and orders. “Now we have a picture of all that and what guests are doing on site so we can more appropriately give them the service they need, aiming towards predicating their requirements,” explains Jayson. 

As part of improving the guest experience the hotel has invested heavily in wifi, increasing internet bandwidth to unlimited data and wifi 6 coverage in order to cater to the large meeting space with up to 2400 people on site “it’s a lot of people, we do need that bandwidth. We need the latest technology to support our guests and services.” Jayson is keen to point out that ROI is the focus for all procurement decisions, including the length of time needed before a next upgraded is needed. 

Focusing on data requirements

The hotel has invested in Travelclick and STR reporting with Travelclick providing GDS intelligence through Agency 360 reporting, to look at volumes of business to the city, how many room nights, competitor sets, at agency level, and dig deeper into corporate booking to find new clients. 

“Covid will change the data, so we need the latest information, this insight is important for us. STR forecasts allow us to see the occupancy and rates in city over future period which is now new and available in New Zealand. With this there’s less assumptions, there’s greater market insight in a more reliable way.”

For Jayson the key to success of initiatives is to work closely with the operations team. “It’s so important to get their buy in, it’s the only way they exceed. Part of our culture at Langham is to look at how to improve and make processes better, and it’s important for the team to see the benefit.”

Listen or watch how Jayson addressed each of these technologies and how Langham Logic teams make the best approach to implementation and system success.
As part of its focus on delivering the customer experience, Iain turned to Criton. He explains, “Covid19 guidance has focused the mind during lockdown. We’ve had to review how to reopen and what to address, and our use of paper throughout the resort. The speed of change was super important and how we could go about that.”

Broadband coverage

A big commercial opportunity for Portavadie was the installation of broadband throughout the resort; “Highspeed internet was not an option but a prerequisite to do anything.“ Iain explains how he approached the investment and how it opened up more opportunities to be more efficient and manage their own destiny.

RFID wristband

Inspired by Disney, Iain tells us how they brought a guest wristband to the resort as  a driver of convenience and commerce, “We don’t have a cashpoint, guests were paying by card all the time, we faced bank charges for every transaction costing us a lot.” Now guests can top up their bands with credit and pay the total on checkout. 

Iain tell us that to enable the guest experience tech is the bridge to that, and his approach to delivering change by looking at what do you ideally like to do, and to do it in a way that makes it easy for guests and staff while deploying tech that connects easily. 

Move to the cloud

Portavadie moved to Opera Cloud for agility and flexibility, he talks of the challenges with interfaces and the barriers preventing system connectivity in the hospitality sector to better facilitate platforms that offer customers this personalised and responsive experience. “As a business we need to find the right questions and to find the right person to ask this to,” describing his procurement journey. 

As part of the digitalisation strategy, the resort moved to a different version of Concept for its spa system, installed a new product from Micros, and is now using Salto for door management – while they are not part of the same organisation they have different interfaces that speak to one another. “As we’ve moved through the journey to find platforms, we’ve been extremely careful that the systems work across all platforms, so whatever we do the onus of responsibility is on the providers to make sure these work.”

Listen or watch the full interview as Ian gives more detail on his approach to tech selection, deployment and measuring success.    

For the rest of the series, visit Hotelier's Voice.