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Plaza Hotel Exploits iPad and ICE Technology

New platform designed to enhance five-star guest experience, improve operating efficiency.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011
John Buchanan
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Last April, on the day the iPad became publicly available, Plaza Hotel general manager Shane Krige – an unabashed fan of the new technology – delivered a few to his Palm Court restaurant so guests could play with them over breakfast. This Friday, the 282-key Plaza will become the first hotel in the world to combine the iPad with ICE, or interactive customer experience, and in-room environmental controls.

Introduced in late 2007, ICE technology from Intelity facilitates 30 individual guest services, from in-room dining to picking up a car from valet parking, while also improving the operating efficiency of the hotel. It’s integrated into both the property management system and point-of-sale system.

“That was the home run in this,” Krige said, “to have it be fully integrated into our systems and to offer the guest such a range of capabilities.”

The Plaza installation will, for the first time, combine ICE with an iPad and the ability to control the in-room environment, from lighting to temperature.

In addition to offering guests an enhanced experience in the hotly competitive five-star hotel market in New York City, the new platform will also empower Krige and his managers to run the landmark Plaza more efficiently, he said.

“For example, because of the quality of the graphic presentation on an iPad, we expect to cut our printing costs by 50 to 75 percent,” said Krige, who became GM after a $450 million renovation of the Plaza, now managed by Fairmont and owned by Elad Properties. He declined to state the cost of the first-of-its-kind application.

“But it’s not a cost-cutting exercise,” Krige noted. “It improves our service. It improves our efficiency. And it improves our ability to deliver – and track – five-star hotel service in real time.”

For example, he said, if his chef gets a shipment of wild salmon and wants to offer a special that night, information can be uploaded to room-service menus in a matter of seconds.

“And for our guests,” Krige said, “it means that when you arrive at JFK airport, you can use your iPhone to engage the system, check in, and order lunch for your arrival. The ‘personal touch’ it gives us is just astonishing. And the Intelity platform for running a hotel is just superb. But for us, it’s really about improving our guest experience and service.”

As a result of his innovation at the Plaza, Krige expects the iPad/ICE application to migrate to other Fairmont properties. “It’s just groundbreaking,” he said. “And I see it evolving into much more than what it is now.”

ICE technology is now installed in 225 Intelity-enabled hotels, said president and CEO David Adelson. The key to its success, he said, is that “it is technology designed by hoteliers for hoteliers.” Adelson had more than 20 years of hotel experience before launching Intelity.

In other Intelity hotels, guests can use the system via five interfaces – a smart phone, laptop, TV, in-room touch device, or lobby application.

John Buchanan
Hotel Interactive® Editorial Division
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