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In the hotel business customers must be pleased with the service, the level of facilities and the environment from the start of their stay till the end. This means that AV professionals have high standards to maintain as well as dealing with unique challenges. Hurrairah bin Sohail takes a closer look.

Hotels and the hospitality sector are big business in Asia. Countries across the region boast unique cultures, distinctive art, natural wonders and historic sites. It is no wonder then that Asia Pacific is a popular holiday destination for many. With Asia’s growing economic clout on the global stage, travel to Asia for the purpose of business is also steadily increasing. Local system integrators and consultants can therefore find a steady stream of projects from hotels to sink their teeth into. But in order to profit they must navigate the problems and surmount the challenges particular to the hospitality sector.

Thaweesak Thamsirisup is the managing director at Vichai Trading 1983, a system integrator in Thailand that has worked on projects in the hospitality sector including the InterContinental Bangkok, Grand Hyatt Erawan and W Hotel Bangkok. He says: “With high competition in the hospitality market, especially amongst hotels in the Bangkok metropolitan area, hoteliers are looking for sources of competitive advantages to compete with each other. One of these is equipping themselves with the latest audio visual technologies, especially to cater to the lucrative meetings and banqueting clients.”

Elizabeth Peterson, business development manager and product manager at All Visual and Lights Systems (AVLS), paints a similar picture for a country where the hospitality sector has been booming in recent times: “The emergence of integrated resorts in the Philippines, situated in the Manila Bay Area, aptly called Entertainment City, brought about an influx of more technologically advanced and sustainable AV solutions. The competition amongst the existing and upcoming integrated resorts in this area is the biggest influencing factor in audio visual design. Everyone wants to be the biggest, the first and the best.”

Comparing other sectors, say for example education, to hospitality reveals the special demands the latter places on the AV equipment and the integration services required. While a projector may be prominently visible in a classroom, the same product may not be afforded the same visibility when used in a hotel ballroom. Hotels want the latest AV equipment to get an edge but they also have an image that they carefully cultivate to preserve. Xu Zhende, technology and project manager at SIWEI Music Engineering Design Group, elaborates: “Normally, when designing the show room, hospitality sector and hotels will pay more attention to the interior design than to the interior acoustic design or system design, which might strongly affect the audio visual experience of VIPs. It is very important to persuade hotels to accept the concept (for AV systems) in the very beginning and to make the balance.”

Hotels and the hospitality cannot be faulted for placing high importance of decor and aesthetics as it has a direct impact on their bottom lines. Instead the onus is on the consultants and the system integrators to ensure hoteliers understand the importance of AV systems. According to Adrian Lim, group director of business development at ihD, the stakes at initial negotiations between all involved parties are high. He says: “Interior designers and architects are demanding [when it comes to] appearance and rarely take interest in acoustic performance, meaning that the AV designer needs to plead his case and hold out on his design needs in front of the whole design team if she or he is to achieve the needed layouts and equipment. The pressure to move ceiling speakers into the corners or edges of ceilings is tremendous and, if given in to, means at least ten years of poor sound performance or bad speech intelligibility.” Not only does the venue suffer poor performance but such cases can also have negative repercussions for an AV professional’s credibility and reputation.

Thamsirisup from Vichai Trading 1983 provides an example from his experience where the AV and interior design did not work together: “The equipment must look nice and blend with the interior space. Audio equipment should not only sound good but look good as well. Problems with the interior designers of the hotel can occur and changes to the blueprint that are unexpected can also occur. We had a case where a chandelier was added later, which then obstructed our projector.”

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