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LAU YU JOY

PROJECT AND INNOVATION EXECUTIVE

FAIRMONT SINGAPORE AND SWISSOTEL THE STAMFORD

How long have you been in the hotel industry? I’ve been in this industry for about three years now.

Tell us more about your career journey. I started my hospitality journey as an intern with the Front Office department at Swissôtel The Stamford, and was then given an opportunity to work full-time, which I did for about two-and-a-half years. After that, I transferred to the IT department and joined the Project & Innovation team as I found the job scope interesting and wanted to explore something new and forward-thinking. We are one of the few hotels in Singapore to have an innovation team!

Can you tell us more about your role and what you do on a daily basis? Every day, I search for the latest technology and trends happening around the world. I also talk to technology vendors to find out more about their products and services. If there’s something particularly interesting and helpful to us, I will consider how we could implement it in our hotels’ work processes, discuss it with my team and then put forward a proposal. This is often followed by team discussions on how we can make our colleagues’ workflow more efficient. That means breaking down the original process, understanding the objective and impact behind each step, and going over every detail to identify areas for improvement.

Whenever we roll out a new application or technology, we hold staff training sessions to teach them how to use it. We also run refresher courses, and try to find out what kind of challenges they face after the roll out. My team and I are always there for our colleagues, especially seniors, if they ever have any questions or concerns.

Have you helped implement new technologies in the hotel? Yes, I’ve been part of a few exciting projects already. One of them is the Automated Check-In System. I’m proud to say that we are the first hotel in Singapore to have that. Our staff will still be there to assist guests with their queries and check-in process, but this system has made the whole check-in process easier and faster. Now it only takes about a minute to check in, and about 10 seconds to check out. With this new system, the Front of House staff can focus more on engaging with the guests.

We also have a project which we will be implementing soon: a new breakfast queuing system. Nowadays, we know it’s quite common for hotels to deal with long breakfast queues outside the restaurant. Currently, we manage the waiting time by redirecting guests to other outlets when there is a long breakfast queue. This will soon change as we will be implementing an application that will help us efficiently manage the queues, do table turnovers quickly, as well as recognise individual guests to provide them with a more personalised service. Our staff will have live screens showing the real-time status of every table, so that they know if the guests have been served or if the table is clean and ready for use.

What are some of the difficulties you’ve encountered when implementing a new technology? Older colleagues sometimes struggle with it, but that’s understandable. We make sure that we’re always there to help them. We never leave them behind. The hotel also sponsors them for SkillsFuture courses to upgrade their skills and be more familiar with the technology they use at work. For colleagues that approach me personally for help, I would gladly assist and help answer their questions.

What surprises you about the industry? The industry is constantly evolving. Hotels are very open to implementing new technologies to enhance a guest’s experience and help the staff with their work. In a way, the hospitality industry is an advocate for new technology.

When I first joined the Project & Innovations team, I was quite surprised with all the innovative technology that the hotel depends on to run smoothly. In fact, the hospitality industry adopts some of the most advanced technology available. We tend to take technology for granted since it’s always present in our daily lives, so we don’t think too much about it. After joining the team, I learned much more about the impact of technology in our workplace.

What do you enjoy most about what you do? I really enjoy what I do for a living, I don’t find it boring at all! I’m always excited to come to work. No two days are ever the same. I get to meet vendors, learn about their products and research industry trends that are happening outside Singapore. I appreciate being able to meet people who are passionate about technology and innovation.

How do you think you contribute to a guest’s happiness during his/her stay? It’s interesting because now that I no longer interact with guests directly, I still have to make sure that the technology we’re proposing or implementing will not only make our colleagues’ work more efficient, but also make our guest experience exceptional.

What has been your most memorable experience in your career so far? The day we launched the Automated Check-In System. I was really excited for it! The counters are really beautiful – big modern touchscreens in our newly renovated lobby. The technology behind the entire system is impressive. The project took about a year to plan and roll out, so I’m really proud to see it come to life. I helped to gather guest feedback and shared it with the Innovation Team for discussion and to plan for further improvements to our guest experience.

Do you have any goals that you hope to achieve during your time in the hotel industry? I want to bring more innovative technology that will attract people to the hotel. My aim is to help make the hotel iconic, create that “wow factor” with the use of technology. I also want to help redesign jobs by incorporating technology in the workplace, I think this will help the staff focus on the guests to provide them the best service possible.

What advice would you share with someone who is interested in joining the hotel industry? It’s an exciting place to be in. I highly encourage you to explore the industry as much as possible. Every department offers something different and interesting.