With its 10th anniversary looming at the end of September, the 1539-room Atlantis The Palm has been undergoing a quiet programme of room refurbishment. As part of its room-by-room facelift, the hotel has fast-tracked its shift from old mag-strip-based door locks to a radio frequency ID (RFID) system.

The introduction of the RFID locking system is the harbinger of a sophisticated technology drive across the hotel and waterpark that aims to deliver a much greater degree of personalised service to its guests.

With the RFID room locks rolled out at the end of September (as this magazine goes to press) the hotel is planning a simultaneous switch to a blockchain-based, cashless payment system. The tech team tested the blockchain settlement platform from Lucid Pay, at two F&B events in the summer, where customers used RFID wristbands to pay for F&B. “We were approached by Lucid Pay and that sparked a conversation, and we started to look around to see how we could use this,” explains Anthony Lynsdale, vice president, information technology, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai. “The business wanted a cashless solution… where guests got a wristband,” he adds.

Lucid’s blockchain platform will initially be used to streamline the management of the property’s half-board guests. Integrating tightly with Atlantis’ existing Micros Symphony point of sale (POS), guests will be able to tap their room key at the counter in any of the hotel’s outlets, which will generate a ‘pop-up’  on the POS screen; enabling the waiter to select the half-board meal to initiate the cheque.

“This will eliminate the need to print cheques and the requirement for the guest’s signature, making it a frictionless process, as well as allowing for better reconciliation on the backend resulting is more accurate billing,” explains Lynsdale.

Atlantis is currently assessing the opportunities for a broader rollout of the blockchain platform in the resort. Possible options include extending the payment system to third parties so that guests can pay for events and services at other venues and charge them to their room bill. The resort’s F&B loyalty programme, due at the end of October will take advantage of the platform.

“There are lots of opportunities for [blockchain]… We then have a food and beverage loyalty programme that will use this technology to allow us to track and verify discounts and consumption across our F&B outlets,” says Lynsdale.

The greater degree of transparency over transactions will also combat to fraud — something that is unavoidable given the large number of cash transactions on-site each day. Lucid Pay’s ‘general ledger’ platform captures all transactional information across the blockchain, so in case of any dispute, both parties are able to see exactly what has been consumed and charged for. 

Atlantis is also looking to upgrade its existing wristband-based system in Aquaventure waterpark. Currently, the waterpark issues visitors bracelets to manage entry and exit at the park. Guests can store monetary value on the bracelet to buy F&B and other services. However, the IT team is assessing if it can further leverage RFID to integrate the wristband into the hotel’s PMS and billing applications to create a ‘seamless’ customer experience across the resort.

“We’re looking at partnering with our current vendor, which is Gateway, on a re-implementation of the software, but with additional features and capabilities,” says Lynsdale.

“We have an opportunity to look at RFID wristbands, and [think how] that guest journey transcends through resort. If I have RFID wristband, can it open my door? Get me into the water park? And maybe, be used as a payment method? Then I don’t need to carry my wallet,” he explains.

The migration to RFID locks, adoption of blockchain and a shift to a cashless systems illustrate the changing role of information technology at the property. Rather than maintaining application up time and buying bandwidth, the IT team is expected to study the business and anticipate how technology will add value to both the guest experience and back of house operations. 

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