Technology and the luxury guest experience: Interview with Arun Kumar

From his first role on the front lines of guest satisfaction as a room service waiter to management positions at four- and five-star InterContinental and Hilton properties, Arun Kumar's impressive hospitality career has taught him a thing or two about keeping guests satisfied.

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Pic credit: Boutique Hotel News

With around two decades of experience in the hospitality industry, Arun is an indisputable thought leader in his field, and has been recognised on “The Brit List” as one of the UK’s Top 25 Most Influential & Inspirational Hoteliers and has earned a place on the Boutique Hotelier Power List for 2017.

Arun's impressive credentials attracted the attention of Indian luxury hotel group Lalit Suri, which afforded him the opportunity to oversee the redevelopment of a grade II listed building in London into the group's first European hotel, The Lalit London.

We asked Arun to share some of his guest experience wisdom, and tell us how technology will influence the management of luxury hotel guest satisfaction in the future.

Where did you begin in the hospitality industry?

My foundation for a successful hospitality career started with my first role as room service waiter.

What's your role now?

I am now General Manager for The Lalit London.

What would you say are the cornerstones of a luxury hotel experience today?

I would say that humility, trust, a good personal rapport and personalised and professional service are essential for creating an excellent luxury guest experience.

You were a key part of launching The Lalit London hotel, was there an initial focus on the guest experience and what would make this up?

Everything we do here at The Lalit London revolves around our guests, both internal and external. Right from the construction and design stage of the Lalit London, every aspect of this project was focused towards guest experience.

Based on your experience, have guest expectations and demands changed with the rise of mobile technology?

I think there has been a huge change, the online world is changing how efficient our clients expect a business to be, and with mobile technology there is now an expectation of 24/7 service. Additionally, the word "fast" in the hotel business has been redefined by social media.

Does the feedback you get from guests and your online reviews play a role in how the hotel is managed?

Client feedback is vital for any organisation's success; a clear sentimental analysis of guest experiences has always helped us to prioritise operational and service improvements.

A lot of hotel general managers talk about the importance of using big data in terms of exceeding guest expectations – what does big data mean to you at this point?

Big data is invaluable in helping us to provide an exceptional guest experience. It helps uncover a lot of hidden patterns and opens up new opportunities, helping us to design new services and products to present to our clients. It also plays a key role in better and faster decision making processes.

How do you think guest expectations might evolve over the next 5 years?

I believe it is clear that guests will want a more personal, connected and informed experience, and technology will be a major brand differentiator. Areas such as virtual experiences will play a major role. At the Lalit London we have already changed the traditional model of hotel check in with our in-room check in.

What's the best hotel you've stayed in and why?

The Royal Mansour Marrakech – the architecture of the building, service, food everything is perfect.


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