It's not good to talk anymore

In a frantically paced, multicultural hotel catering environment a reliable means of communication is essential. Hotelier Middle East discovers how F&B teams can use technology to avoid mistakes.

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By  Administrator Published  March 15, 2008

In a frantically paced, multicultural hotel catering environment a reliable means of communication is essential. Hotelier Middle East discovers how F&B teams can use technology to avoid mistakes.

Hotels employ hundreds of staff across innumerable departments, and in the F&B department alone the restaurant must communicate with the kitchen and the kitchen with waiting staff inside and outside the hotel, as well as dealing with room service orders. Communication is a key.

Once the waiter's order is ready the chef presses a button and this informs the POS to come and collect it.

Technology plays a huge role in modern catering operations in regards to a number of factors including communication, according to executive chef Geoff Haviland, who runs the F&B operations at the InterContinental Hotel Group's new development at Dubai Festival City, including the 498-room InterContinental Dubai Festival City, 316-room Crowne Plaza Dubai Festival City and 212-apartment InterContinental Residence Suites.

Jtech Middle East has realised this need for efficient communication between the catering staff, and director Sapna Mehta believes that hotel catering operations in the Middle East have the right idea and are keen to keep up to date with new methods of communication.

"The focus for them is to provide better service to the customer. It's a growing need, continuously wanting to improve this service, because hospitality is growing so rapidly in this country," she says.

"It's a huge challenge for the F&B department to be able to satisfy all customers all the time. We can come and help and provide technology that improves customer satisfaction continuously."

Jtech Middle East, based in Jebel Ali Freezone, has recently joined with POS system provider Vectron and Australian firm ResPak to become Global Communications, a company supplying technology to the hotel industry across the UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Kuwait and Jordan, working with Hilton, Sheraton and Kempinski, amongst others.

"I think the most popular product at present is the EasyCall system, IP rated wireless buttons for beaches and restaurants. The guest can press a button embedded in the deck chair or table when they're on the beach and a message goes to the waiting staff that service is needed," says Mehta.

"We have these because most beach hotels have problems with efficiently responding to their customers. It's really improved the service on the beach, which was really needed in this part of the world because the beaches are long and busy, especially over the weekends."

Jtech is planning to launch the Vectron POS system at Gulfood 2008, another tool that can help improve communication in the F&B department.

"This is the fastest POS in the world, and it has the MobilePro, which is a handheld PDA with a 64bit processor allowing the waiter to communicate with the main POS," explains Mehta.

"This handheld POS means that he can do wireless reservations, he can take orders and send them directly to the kitchen. This is the only handheld PDA in the world that is interfaced with our EasyCall wireless call buttons and with our WaiterCall paging system."

She adds that customers can use the EasyCall system to get the waiter's attention, and the handheld PDA will show a map of the restaurant with the location of that customer, and keep flashing until the waiter serves the customer.

"It is also interfaced with the kitchen, so if the waiter takes an order he can send it to the kitchen wirelessly, and once the waiter's order is ready the chef presses a button and this informs the POS that the food order is ready come and collect," says Mehta.

"This means he doesn't have to waste time communicating verbally with the kitchen to find out if the order is ready. He can be where he is supposed to be and that is waiting on customers and guests."

Another benefit of these products is the elimination of mobile phone use, which according to Mehta has become an issue in hotels.

"Hotels don't want staff using mobile phones because it's quite rude, they want to eliminate the bills and a lot for hotels are having problems getting range," she says.

"We pride ourselves on being able to give 99% in all hotels, which means that staff can be contacted anywhere discreetly through a paging system called Genesis. The Kempinski Mall of the Emirates is using Genesis for communication with the staff within the hotel. We try to make our communication discreet and wireless and cut down costs to the minimum."

Every Jtech product installation includes staff training and service maintenance contracts for all products.

Jtech Middle East will exhibit at Gulfood 2008 February 24-27 and The Hotel Show June 8-10.

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