What Our Clients Say
Dr. Hayssam Serhan
CEO, Neos Interactive
Neos is able
but also on a
Vice President Technology, Middle East & Asia - Mövenpick Hotels & Resorts
Neos has a robust, solid system. they provide the levels of personalisation that i am looking for and want to see in our hotels.
The in-room entertainment experience means having a personalised approach to a guest’s stay. This personalisation can come in relation to digital content, the quality of the selection of TV channels, and of course, the ease of use of an interactive TV system that is very intuitive. Personalisation means tailoring all those systems, from ambient lighting to air conditioning to the interactive TV set up to a guest’s specific needs and purposes. That’s where it’s coming from.
What percentage of properties «get it right», and why?
Quite frankly very few get it right. A lot of people talk about personalisation but they handle it in varying degrees and varying levels and through a number of manual processes. Ultimately, this industry is very traditional in its way of operating, and we need some level of automation. I believe technology is the facilitator for providing that level of personalisation, rather than manual guest recognition programmes that a number of hotels carry out at different levels.
I don’t believe all hotel groups get it right, but certainly at Mövenpick we have been looking at new levels of personalisation for some time; looking at leveraging technology to provide a high degree of personalisation. In all our new hotel projects, I am trying to build these kinds of systems into the infrastructure so that it is a plug and play approach and there is a synergy between the systems to enable a more personalised stay for a guest.
What, for you are the biggest drawbacks with full IP systems, and how do you think they should be dealt with?
I believe IP networks and IP convergence are the future. I have been looking at convergence in our projects ever since the year 2000, and we have led in many parts of the Middle East with different IP technologies and network convergence. Where hotel groups get it wrong with IP convergence is when they overcomplicate things. Technology for technology’s sake is not the way to go. We need a common sense approach to the technology and with that approach comes simplicity. This avoids confusing and alienating guests.
What is the most important thing for you when choosing new vendor partners?
Firstly that they have a strong solution; secondly that they are creative and on the same page as me when we are talking about personalisation; thirdly that they are cost competitive, and finally that they have a good support network. I am looking for partner, not a vendor. That’s the bottom line. As a partner there is give and take, there is understanding, co-operation and collaboration.
You are currently examining a number of new ideas with NEOS. What are your thoughts about the advantages of their solutions?
Their solutions are strong. They have been in the market for a while and provide good levels of personalisation, from the welcome message to the music libraries, tailored digital content, etcetera. NEOS has a robust, solid system. They provide the levels of personalisation that I am looking for and want to see in our hotels.
IT Director, W Doha Hotel - Starwood
W Doha Hotel and Residences offers the “best of the best” including the latest in-room technology by NEOS.
A strong operator.
“Despite economic and political uncertainty in parts of the region, Starwood continues to see demand for growth of all of our brands across the Middle East and North Africa” said Frits van Paasschen, President and CEO, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. “MENA is key to Starwood’s global expansion strategy, representing our second largest growth market after China. When you consider that the region has 35 metropolitan areas with a population of over one million, and many with a wealthy middle class, there’s huge long-term potential for internationally-branded luxury and upper-upscale hotels.”
In-Room entertainment - The Doha way!
Since the recent upgrading of the hotel’s system to NEOS iTV V7, IT Director Amr Zalabani says guest feedback has been excellent: “Everyone likes the new menu design and the way the channels are organised by category. Also the menu is easier to navigate.”
According to Mr Zalabani, despite the fact that it is hard to offer a “better than expected” service, the new solution by NEOS achieves this goal: “There is a DVD player available within the STB, so many guests watch their own movies, and this is a big plus. Also there is room for the guests to listen to their own music by connecting their flash drives or iPods to the STB. One of the best options is that guests can record one channel while watching another one. Then they can watch the recorded one later.”
Mr Zalabani says one of the most important aspects is the support and after sales service. “The NEOS support is the best, they do it any time any day with a smile. We have an excellent relationship. I wish all vendors provided the same support and relationship.”
Operations Manager, Solidere Broadband Network, Beirut
The performance and quality of Neos’ STB exceeded those of others.
You were already working with another provider before. Why did you want to change?
The old IPTV middleware was very costly to maintain, and had several bugs that were not addressed. We wanted a simpler middleware that was stable and more affordable to maintain. The main reason however was the actual Set-Top-Box (STB), which had many limitations and minimal functionality. The cost of the STB was also too high. There were many bugs with the STB software that were not addressed. We wanted a more affordable STB that was user friendly, and gave users a more enjoyable TV watching experience.
How did the bidding process take place?
We spoke with several providers, and looked at around ten different STBs. We assessed the cost, the features, the support the companies would provide, and the ability to customize the STB to our needs.
So what, in technical terms, made the NEOS solution different to the others that were offered?
Neos offered the best overall cost for the solution, including replacement of middleware and STBs. Neos’ professional team was very attentive to our needs, was willing to implement all our requests and to customize the STB to Solidere BBN’s needs. The performance and quality of Neos’ STB exceeded those of others. Early demos and trials of Neos STB exceeded our expectations compared to others. The Neos team was also able to quickly implement and demonstrate changes to the STB.
Now it is installed, what are the preliminary results?
Very positive. As mentioned, the old system had problems. For example the set top box would freeze or the whole system would crash and users would quite frequently have to reboot. That was one of the main drivers for us to migrate to a new system. Of the people who have moved over to the Neos system, I have to say so far there have been no complaints at all. The Neos system and STBs are stable, and there are no reports of crashes or freezes as with the old STB/middleware. Customers still using the old STB are looking forward to getting the new STB.
How are rollouts planned?
We plan to replace STBs for our existing customer base, and for all future deployments. The BCD area will be expanding into new developments, thus increasing our potential customer base.
How will this translate to helping them in this respect?
Neos has proven their ability to implement an entire system from scratch. The transition was very seamless and Neos’ support team has been outstanding throughout the implementation and transition process. The size of Solidere’s residential project is approximately 3,000 tenants, and expected to grow to more than 5,000, far exceeding the size of any hotel. Implementing a similar solution for hotels will be a piece of cake for Neos.
Director of Information Technology, The Fairmont Nile City, Cairo
New technology is useless if it doesn’t have the full backup support of the supplying company.
Your hotel offers a “best in class” experience in many ways. The in-room technologies are a key element in this recipe. How has NEOS helped you create this experience?
The interactive TV facility is something that luxurious hotel guests expect to have. So it is essential to have such added value. We have to meet their needs and expectations. Secondly, the facility itself gives the guests an opportunity to view their bills and see any updates on them. There is a personal touch, as when the guest arrives in the room they have a personalised welcome message. In some cases, we use the system to send some kind of message to the guest in their rooms. The music library is vast, with a very broad choice of musical styles and tastes – to suit all guests; and movies are updated regularly.
Just how important is this “entertainment experience” as part of the overall recipe?
It is essential. It is part of the standard of first class hotels such as the Fairmont to offer such service.
When you were looking for a service provider for your in-room entertainment, what were your main requirements?
Number one was after sales support. New technology is useless if it doesn’t have the full backup support of the supplying company. This was the most important factor for us. The key was that the technical and management teams at NEOS were up to our business standards and expectations.
How did the selection process take place?
Firstly we collected data about the provider profiles and we collected feedback from others who had dealt with that provider. And then we spoke with the teams. I had the time to speak with Hayssam, the man in charge of the company, and given his knowledge and understanding of our needs, we decided to work with NEOS.
Was the fact that Hayssam, the President of NEOS, has a technical background just like yourself very useful in negotiations?
Definitely. When you speak with someone in the management team, and in addition to his managerial skills, he understands the technological issues at stake as well, you feel secure... you feel much more relieved that your technical requirements will be met. And it saves a lot of time, because if you are speaking to someone who is “just” a manager about technical issues, he will have to consult with his technical team. But when he has the technical ability, he can instantly supply an answer to any of our issues at stake.
Tell me more about the key features of your in-room entertainment system...
The key feature is the Video on Demand, where the guest can enjoy watching a movie and stop it if he receives a phone call or someone knocks on the door... then he can pick up where he left off. There is a great variety of movies, and as I mentioned earlier, the choice of music styles and titles is excellent.
You mentioned after sales service as a key issue. Why is it so important?
All systems, no matter who makes them, have failure points somewhere. What is important is to shorten any downtime, and in this respect, NEOS are always available by email or telephone, or via remote connection support. For the time being, we have not faced any serious or critical problems, and any minor issues we had were dealt with promptly and efficiently.
How would you describe your overall relations with NEOS?
So good! We have such a good relationship... or I would rather call it a partnership. They are our partners to help us better deliver services to our guests.
|Waleed Abou Zeid
General Manager, Saifi Suites, Beirut
We have an excellent relationship. I wish all vendors provided the same support and relationship.
Saifi Suites General Manager, Waleed Abou Zeid, says a great deal of importance was placed on having state of the art network and entertainment technology in the hotel. But what was the original spec for in-room entertainment, and how did Saifi go about choosing a technology partner for interactive and VOD?
It all started through a meeting with the IT consultant, Data Consult, and in the first meeting, Mr Abou Zeid was convinced by Hayssam: “I think Hayssam was the first factor in closing the deal after the financial one”, says Abou Zeid. “He explained the product to me, backed by data consult. The issues he covered led me to go in the direction of NEOS.”
The installation is now complete and ready to run... So how would Mr Abou Zeid describe the experience of working with NEOS? “Till now, as per my expectations... hoping that everything will be running smoothly in order to keep this image in my mind!”
NEOS, of course, has other similar projects in the pipeline at the moment. Dr Serhan says currently there are four similar medium-sized projects (going from 71 up to 321 rooms), that we will soon be able to take a closer look at! “In those projects we will be offering our customers the latest technologies in interactive systems and TV streaming” says Dr Serhan. “On top of that, we will be offering hotel guests the possibility to control and browse NEOS iTV through their iPad/iPhone/AndroidPhone for higher guest experience. We are working hard at the same time on having direct presence in more countries as well.”