New committee to oversee innovation in hotel sector

Some of the top hands in the hotel industry will get together to see how they can introduce new technology and ideas to raise productivity.

These innovations could include robots which deliver luggage and facial recognition systems to speed up check-ins.

The formation of the Hotel Innovation Committee was announced yesterday in a report of recommendations by an expert panel.

Steered by the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA), the committee will comprise seasoned local hoteliers, international experts, academics and solution providers.

SHA executive director Margaret Heng said it would be set up by the end of this year and that more details would be released later. It will work on identifying industry pain points and developing solutions to overcome them.

Labour productivity in the hotel industry, measured as value add per worker, grew at a compound annual rate of 5.8 per cent from 2010 to last year, said Singapore Tourism Board chief executive Lionel Yeo.

But there are challenges to sustaining this amid slowing workforce growth, he said during the Technology Festival at Republic Polytechnic.

"There is an economywide, urgent and critical need to shift from manpower-driven growth towards productivity-driven growth," he said.

The seven-member expert panel, which included hoteliers and academics and was co-chaired by Mr Yeo and Far East Hospitality chief executive Arthur Kiong, made five recommendations after an 18-month study.

It found that the industry needs to innovate in terms of streamlining processes and services, and to better manage manpower deployment and development.

It also said in its report that there was a lack of a common measure for hotels to benchmark their productivity, and endorsed five indicators:

• Revenue per full-time equivalent staff;

• Operating costs per full-time equivalent staff;

• Gross operating profit per full-time equivalent staff;

• Average employee hours per occupied room; and

• Average employee hours per cover, or customer.

The Hotel Productivity Centre, a unit under the Singapore Productivity Centre, also launched yesterday a training curriculum for hotel executives to learn to improve productivity in their workplaces.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2015, with the headline 'New committee to oversee innovation in hotel sector'. Print Edition | Subscribe