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  • Writer's pictureRyan Haynes

Hoteliers' Voice S3E2 - How Columbia Beach Resort uses digital to augment the luxury experience

Updated: Jul 3, 2023

We speak to Monica Coppetta, General Manager of Columbia Beach Resort in Cyprus as part of Hoteliers' Voice about how they focus on the luxury guest experience and digital technologies. Overlooking the secluded Pissouri Bay on the southern coast of Cyprus, Columbia Beach Resort is a five-star resort offering 169 luxurious suites with distinct Cypriot architecture, an award-winning spa and two pools, and gourmet restaurants, in a stunning location – providing a unique experience.


In our conversation, Monica explains how Columbia Beach Resort provides a unique experience with technology, we explore:

  • Why are guest-facing tech and digital systems so important

  • The technologies being deployed

  • The impact on hotel performance

  • Engaging staff

  • Identifying the right partners

Systems Columbia Beach Resort uses includes Innspire, Hotel Mobile and Oracle's Micros Fidelio.


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Programme Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and welcome to Hotelier s Voice, season three. Today we're going to be looking at How Columbia Beach Resort uses digital to augment the luxury experience Overlooking the secluded Pissouri Bay on the southern coast of Cyprus. Columbia Beach Resort is a five-star resort, offering 169 luxurious suites with distinct reciprocate architecture, an award-winning spa, and two pools and gourmet restaurants in a stunning location providing a unique experience. I'm going to be speaking with Monica Coppetta, the general manager as we dive into how Columbia Beach Resort provides a unique experience with technology. We'll learn why guest-facing tech and digital systems are so important.


Ryan Haynes:

The technology is being deployed. The impact on hotel performance, engaging staff, and identifying the right partners.


Ryan Haynes:

Hello Monica. Thank you ever so much for joining me today as we delve into the developments that you’ve been investing in at Columbia Beach Resorts.


Monica Coppetta:

Hi Ryan.


Ryan Haynes:

So, guest-facing technology and digital systems are really important for you. Can you tell us why this is the case?


Monica Coppetta:

Guest-facing technology and Digi digital systems are crucial for Columbia Beach Resort because they enhance the overall guest experience and streamline operations. By implementing these technologies, the Resort can provide a seamless and con convenient stay for guests, allowing them to easily access information services and amenities. Not only that, but it also enables to gather of valuable information about the guest valuable profile information that can be used to personalize the guest service and improve operational efficiency.


Ryan Haynes:

Absolutely fine. So, you are actually using it on both sides, both to provide those efficiencies to guests, but also to give that information and insight to your staff. So, from a perspective of how your staff are actually using this data and really understanding the guests provide that unique experience, what are some of the really critical information and data that you get from technology that really helped you provide that level of service?


Monica Coppetta:

Especially for example, now we are using our own application with Innspire, as you know, and the important information, how much they're using the application and which information they search for, what is important for them. Is it restaurant information, is it a local area, excursions, is it, I don’t know what’s on promotion for example. While they're staying at the Resort, there is much information which is useful to us to improve our operation.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. So, you constantly look at this data and really understand a level of activity to be able to improve and, and develop your services there and, and I. Guess that then, does that guide you into what's most popular with your guests so you can provide more investment and deliver that service more with, with both more resources?


Monica Coppetta:

Yes. Right. That helps all of us, all of our department. It could be anything from the human resources point of view as well. For example, what type of services they would like to have, how they are enjoying our guest services, like the, the assistance, the welcome, the work welcome of our staff. They just mention it on the application because we have a mini survey there and we get to know instantly what they like.


Ryan Haynes:

Now we actually had the opportunity to have a proper chat prior to this interview and delve into your wider tech stack and you really have invested quite heavily into your tech stack at Columbia Beach Resorts and I'm really keen to learn more about the types of technologies and partners that you are working with. You mentioned one just now Innspire Now. I understand that they help you with your guest-facing tools. Can you give me a bit more information as to the types of systems you're using with them?


Monica Coppetta:

Yes. We came across as inspired because we had the need to know to give more information to the guests instantly and we needed to eliminate all the paper and printing that we had at the Resort. Many of the hotels have directories in the rooms listing all the information and services we offer. But those directories, since we are flexible and we are changing them frequently, cost us a lot of printing and a lot of paper waste to update them. So, the application serves us to keep the information current to our customers and instant to them, everyone holds a mobile phone or a tablet.


Monica Coppetta:

So, everyone has, everyone has a way to access the application Innspire in this case and to access all the information they need. That's what we wanted. So that's what is happening now. So, we update the information instantly, they're current and we do not have paper waste.


Ryan Haynes:

That's excellent. and I would say the number of resources that just go into putting together pieces of paper and making sure that they're all in the rooms or in any, any, any guest touchpoint with, with technology, it's just there instantly. and I understand that you've also introduced technology within the lobby, particularly for check-in. Can you tell us about, is it the touchscreens and tablets you're using through the property?


Monica Coppetta:

Correct. We are using tablets with another system to check in guests in the lobby or in the room if they like to check in in the suite, the comfort of the suite or in by the pool. I mean they can check in wherever they want. They are not standing at a, at a call front desk, you know, having to pull out the papers and the IDs. But they can sit at the bar and enjoy their favourite drink and check in getting all the information from the receptionist as well as they can check in also with Innspire with the application because they are flying, and they can check in from their flight on their arrival date.


Monica Coppetta:

They can check in also before coming to the Resort before arriving. So that helped a lot, not only our team members, our receptionist, you know, to streamline the operation but also to give the guests the flexibility to just come in and get the key and go to their suite without having to lose time again for check-in.


Ryan Haynes:

It's really interesting because I've had quite a few conversations about, you know, this way of checking in guests as they arrive and being able to walk around with touchscreens and the staff, you know, just being, you know, able to access that wherever they are within the hotel. And we've had a few of those conversations in Hoteliers’ Voice season two. And how have the staff found this? Because this is quite a change in the way that you interact with guests and as you say, you're not, you don't have a big queue of people waiting to speak directly to the front desk. So, what's been the, what's, what's been the sense and from staff really about sort of how to be beneficial this is to their role?


Monica Coppetta:

It's also beneficial to their role because it makes them approach the guest in a more friendly way. Being behind the counter. It makes you feel like, you know, you have a barrier in front of you, which is the desk. So, the, the staff, they feel more, you know, closer to the guests. They have a different interaction with them when they're sitting in the bar and they're having the drink, they're talking about other things, not necessarily about information about the Resort. So, they make the guests feel comfortable and they feel more comfortable themselves to give information according to what the guest requires.


Monica Coppetta:

So not to make it too long and too heavy for them.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. and I know that you've also installed mobile door locks as well as entertainment in the rooms, which you mentioned at the very beginning of this podcast. And then in addition, mobile restaurant booking, I mean that must save so many issues and problems there, you know, what have been the benefits that you've seen from being able to have restaurant booking available by mobile? Have, have you seen an increase in interest, particularly from your guests?


Monica Coppetta:

It is more flexible for them because what the guests are looking for is also flexible. And they want to see when they see on the application, for example, when they see that the restaurant is fully booked, they cannot really complain about that because now, you know, they, someone is telling them, I'm sorry, but this time is not available when you see it yourself, there is nothing much that can be done. You know, everybody wants to book at eight 30 for example, and everybody wants to book, I don't know, a nine or a seven. So, when they see that the slots are already taken, and this is very common all over the world. Wherever, whichever restaurant you go, Now, you can book online.


Monica Coppetta:

You, you don't have to call, you don't have to, you know, there is no select, he's not selective. The system is the system. He's not selecting you or someone else, it doesn't make you feel that I say no to you and that hell yes to somebody else. So, it's flexible, it's faster and it shows the real situation of the restaurant to the guest who might choose another restaurant or another time slot.


Ryan Haynes:

Now I understand you are working with Micros Fidelio across your property what are the benefits of working with Micros Fidelio and how has that helped you be able to integrate more systems as part of your digitalisation strategy?


Monica Coppetta:

Micros Fidelio is well known and widely used system for Hoteliers in hotels. It is the benefit is that Micros and Fidelio Micros is the point-of-sale system for the restaurants and Fidelio is the property management system from the front desk for reservations, check-in, room locations and so on. Micros and Fidelio, integrate themselves very well because they come from the same company. And it is a benefit in terms of there are many possibilities. You can have reports, you can custom-made reports, can record information on profiles, and guest profiles, which is very important for us.


Monica Coppetta:

The guest profile is a boutique, Resort with a limited number of rooms, let's say 169 rooms. So, we are very much focusing on personalizing the service. So, the guest profile for us is very important, as it's a treasure of information and guest liking. He doesn't like, I don't know, food intolerances or the type of pillow to be used or the transportation preferred transportation and so on. So, it's very important and the integration point of view with Micros, not only with Micros but also with the revenue and reservation system, which is another system.


Monica Coppetta:

So, everything is integrated perfectly together. So, by pushing a button on a PLU on Micros instantly everything is updated. So, for us, it's a huge benefit, and we take it very often for granted it shouldn't be like that.


Ryan Haynes:

It's great, great to hear the passion there for the importance of that technology. And as you say, you know, we shouldn't take this for granted, particularly if a system goes down, you are going to be completely lost. and I think one of the main gains you've got as well from having these integrated systems is being able to set up quite a comprehensive loyalty program.


Monica Coppetta:

Correct. Fidel and this point of view gave us a huge benefit of implementing our diamond sale club program, a loyalty program with the accumulation of sales, which are our points, we call them sale because it recalls the logo of our company a sale, a ship sale. And this loyalty program is very much appreciated by the guests. So automatically upon checkout, you are accredited with a number of points relative to the number, the money spent basically. And you can gain sales by booking accommodation or just by having a coffee at the bar.


Ryan Haynes:

Oh, fantastic.


Monica Coppetta:

So having our repeat clientele is almost 40% of our clientele, was very important to us. So, we were looking for a rewarding system. How can we reward and recognize our members, our repeat clientele? And this is working very well so far.


Ryan Haynes:

You've done really well to look at that technology that really helps that guest experience as they come in and through the property that really assists your staff. Now also on the staff side, you've been, you've installed a housekeeping system that's also helping you stay on top of maintenance within the property. Can you tell me which system you're using and how you're using that?


Monica Coppetta:

It is called, first of all, housekeeping. They use Fidel very much like other departments as well. However, they use a mobile application which is called Hotel Mobile. Hotel Mobile. So, this application is used by the maintenance team, the housekeeping team, and the mini bar attendant maintenance. They use it to check and prioritize maintenance requests, not only in the rooms but in the public areas as well where we can, anybody can upload it. Anybody who has this application can upload a maintenance request. Housekeeping, check the status of the room and update the status if it's clean, if it has to be inspected, and if it's out of order.


Monica Coppetta:

So, they have an instant display, of what's going on in the Resort, how many rooms have to be cleaned, and how many check-in checkouts. And the mini-bar attendant can instantly charge the consumption of the mini-bar. So instead of going back to the office and uploading the consumption, the mini-bar attendant can do it in front of the mini. So, it's very useful for these three departments and it's instant and it's working very well so far. It is, I think it's the fifth year we're using it.


Ryan Haynes:

Amazing. And as you say, bringing so many different efficiencies to the business. And so, what have you seen the impact on the hotel performance, particularly as you've introduced these different systems? Have you seen that impact particularly commercially on revenue bookings or guest satisfaction staff retention?


Monica Coppetta:

The impact of all these systems for the operational systems, of course, staff retention, yes, because staff are facilitated by these technologies. Something that you used to do manually before in the heat of 40 degrees sometimes in Cyprus can be very hot outside. So, it's done by a computer. And this is very good because instead of going to the suite and checking if it's clean, you see it on the digital screen, you see it on your mobile app. So, you don't have to work up there. There are some villas, I mean most of our villas, that do not have lifts, so you have to just go up and down the stairs.


Monica Coppetta:

So, it did not streamline the stuff in terms of reduction of stuff, but it streamlined the operation, I think. So, it helped the staff to do their job better in terms of revenue generation of course is not the operational application which help us, although Innspire the application and the passports can help us to in terms of reputation, in terms of facilitating the guest services. But what helped us in terms of revenue is the implementation of our website and the revenue and reservation system because direct bookings are so important for a hotel nowadays and it seems like it's transforming how the guests are booking hotels.


Monica Coppetta:

So that helped us a lot in terms of revenue generation, guests like to book directly. So, the website was a huge, huge change for our Resort.


Ryan Haynes:

Brilliant. And now are you looking at any other technology to solve problems at the moment? Have you got any wishlists or new systems you're exploring?


Monica Coppetta:

Yes, minor at the moment. Technology is always evolving. So, you have to keep up with these changes. You can't stop. So, we cannot say, okay, now we are set, we wait for a couple of years. No, it's yearly. It's constant, whenever there is a new update, you have to keep up with it and you cannot miss the chance to implement a new system or a new upgrade or something new. For example, we have digital screens, we have whiteboards, and digital whiteboards in the meeting rooms as well.


Ryan Haynes:

Sounds like you are certainly on the cutting edge of technology, and you have a great passion for it, which is no surprise, your list is forever growing. What advice can you give us for identifying the right partners to work with?


Monica Coppetta:

The right partner at the moment? I would suggest finding someone who understands the importance of having to integrate systems with each other. I mean, at the moment we have so many digital systems and technology is fantastic. However, in the hotel we have, we need desperately to have all these systems to talk to each other smoothly. And second, someone who is patient enough to understand the hotelier's needs or someone who is open to listening and learning about the needs of a hotelier.


Ryan Haynes:

Monica, thank you ever so much for such insight today and for helping and for allowing us to explore your hotel tech stack.


Monica Coppetta:

Thank you, Ryan, for inviting me.


Ryan Haynes:

So that was Monica Coppetta, the general manager of Columbia Beach Resort. Thanks ever so much for exploring that total tech stack. Check out the rest of season three of Hoteliers’ Voice as it comes out throughout the duration of 2023. We have some exciting hoteliers who are going to enjoy joining us, exploring a whole plethora of areas within hospitality and hotel management. Thanks for listening. I'm your host, Ryan Haynes. Ciao for now.

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