Meet Ivana Beli Oštarčević, director of ICT propositioning department at Croatian Telecom, who will, together with Krešimir Jusup (ICT standard proposition & pricing management expert) give a presentation on the first day of the Best Stay 2017 conference.

When talking about fulfilling guests’ expectations in a luxury tourism market, what would you say is the most important thing to look after?

We can only talk about technology aspect of tourism as a Croatian Telecom’s area of expertise. When talking about technology, not so long ago, the most important features in choice of hotel was the location of the hotel, the comfort of the room and the courtesy of the staff. Today, in the era when technology is a major and important part of our lives, priorities have changed. Global trends in hotel industry show that hoteliers are following habits and demands of the millennial’s, who are becoming the largest group among global travellers and consumers. For this reason, hoteliers today invest most in the availability and power of WiFi networks in hotels because free WiFi is at the top of the list of guest requests and in today’s world it has become a standard. Trend that has been popular among hoteliers in recent years is the hotel mobile applications which allows guests to book a room, do a check in and check out without going to reception, order room service and access personalised information on current hotel offerings, all that over a smart phone. Also, global hoteliers are increasingly starting to work in cloud, as they reduce operating costs and improve business organisation.

ICT solutions make a big part of every topnotch hotel and provide hotels with numerous handy functions. What do Croatian Telecom’s solutions provide to hotels?

Looking at of how technology is important in every segment of hotel business, hotels are striving for the best and most efficient service. As a leading telecommunications company in Croatia, Croatian Telecom offers complete solutions for the hospitality industry. Depending on the specific needs, Croatian Telecom combines practically all services and technologies available – fixed, mobile and cloud and covers all stages of the project – analysis, design, delivery and implementation of the business solution. We also provide maintenance and customer support throughout the business relationship. One of the advantages of such tailor-made business solution is the possibility to pay through fixed monthly instalments. That way, hotels can avoid high initial costs of the project and, additionally, have complete management and maintenance system of the implemented ICT solution outsourced. This way, hoteliers have time for what’s most important – their guests.

How do you think ICT solutions will impact the development of luxury tourism?

Hotels that have opened in last few years have been more aware of the benefits new technologies have to offer and have been more willing to invest in them already during the construction period. Although hospitality industry is one of the most advanced industries in implementing digital technologies, in Croatia implementation of new technologies is still not on the global level. The focus of our hotels is mainly on basic technologies such as IP telephony, WiFi and hotel TV systems, and there is an increasing interest in video surveillance and digital signage technology. Although there is a wish to meet guest expectations, readiness to implement new technologies that, ’till recently have not been considered necessary for hotel business operations, is still lower than expected. We believe that one of the new trends that our hotels will accept will be hotel mobile app. Also, as a strong comparative advantage and additional content for guests, we anticipate quality services such as e-charging stations and e-bikes. We can see this e-mobility trend also expending to tourist destinations through smart city projects. From the aspect of luxury tourism, this is very important element because group of users of electric vehicles are generally wealthier, highly associated and decisions about choosing the desired destinations are largely based on the availability of publicly available e- charging stations. Electric vehicle users are also prepared to spend extra time and money at a selected location if they are offered advanced charging options for electric vehicles.

What Croatian Telecom’s ICT solutions would you say are the most beneficial in improving hotel operations?

A number of hotels throughout Croatia use services from Croatian Telecom, from TV systems, Wi-Fi, fixed and mobile telephony, video surveillance, fiscalization, to computer equipment, charging stations for e-vehicles, e-bikes and smart parking. But our Hotel PMS (Property Management System) service represents the heart of every hotel. It is a business system that connects different segments of hotel operations in a unique, centralised system and provides easy access to all information in real time, for a better business control and hotel service. Some of the many features of this system are accurate records of guest consumption, fast and automated guest check-in and check-out, automated management system for internal and external reservation, monitoring the consumption of supplies, current insight into the household commodity and number of business reports and statistics.

What are you most looking forward to in attending Best Stay 2017?

We are very excited about this year’s Best Stay conference due to positive experiences we had last year. Given that this is not just about a conference, but about an interactive event, we are very much interested in hearing what technological challenges our hoteliers encounter and what their demands for better business and a richer guest offer are, so we could respond even better to their needs through our hospitality service offer.