SPOTLIGHT ON David Goldstone, President for the Americas, DigiValet

DigiValet has come to be known for its continual innovation – what have been some recent innovations that are exciting the industry?

Firstly, I would like to emphasize that DigiValet was the first company in the world to bring an iPad based guest room solution to market. As a matter of fact, we did this in 2008 with an iPod Touch two years before the iPad was launched. Having then successfully launched the world’s first full-featured iPad based guest room solution in 2010, we gained immediate credibility and superior market share, becoming the most reviewed guest room solution on TripAdvisor.

Following on our success and ongoing enhancements since the launch of our first iteration, we continued with yet another first, that of being the first company in the world to successfully launch voice-activated guest room controls in a hotel. We were hand-picked by Starwood, after a global search to find a potential partner, (prior to their purchase by Marriott) to work with their technology innovation team to install ten rooms at the Aloft Santa Clara in California and Aloft Seaport Village in Boston respectively. This installation, using Siri, was innovative, fun and exciting. These rooms are still installed today with this technology enabling the hotels to charge a premium for their use. We have now successfully integrated with Amazon Alexa and will shortly be launching our own DigiVoice – the world first commercial hospitality based voice activated room controls.

Mood lighting, themed wake up and drapes slowly opening to a set wake up are other innovations that we are proud of. This leads me into personalization – at the luxury and ultra-luxury level where more than 80% are returning guests, hotels today put tremendous effort into remembering their guest preferences – our technology makes this seamless for a hotel, whether it be their desired room temperature, pillow preference, TV channels or dining requests.

In addition to the above, additional excitement to come over the next few months will be conversational UI, augmented reality and facial recognition. Integrated door locks whereby the guest room “wakes up” upon the initial entry by the guest to their room as opposed to via the hotels PMS which is currently the norm across our industry.

Very simply at this level of luxury, different guests want different things and most if not all current systems available in hotels are “cookie-cutter” – DigiValet enables complete guest differentiation.

We will also be bringing to market some exciting lobby technology taking us out of the guest room for the first time and utilizing our superior in-room iPad technology, slightly modified, for the lobby.

What kind of hotels are good candidates for DigiValet?

Any hotel that is looking to differentiate themselves through technology is an ideal candidate. DigiValet has something for everyone in this regard which is yet another factor that makes us so unique.

Whether the hotel is a retrofit or new build, large casino property or small luxury boutique hotel, our comprehensive, feature-rich platform can be customized to suit the specific requirements of the hotel.

What does DigiValet do differently that sets it apart from the rest?

Firstly, we have over one hundred in-house engineers working on our technology and hotel customer’s needs. This results in our ability to work faster and innovate quicker thus delivering on our customer’s specific needs in a time frame no one else can meet. (The Starwood voice rooms are a classic example of this).

Secondly our ease of use – as detailed and as innovative as our technology is, the UI (user interface) has been designed specifically to ensure ease of use for guests of all ages. Over 70% of guests use DigiValet every night across thousands of rooms.

Thirdly, our alert system, reporting functionality and analytics, via our live dashboard without doubt, sets us apart from any other company. We are regularly complimented on the incredible reporting and troubleshooting features we provide to our hotel partners. We enable a hotel’s operations team to address maintenance issues long before they become a guest complaint.

We also offer the highest standards of IT security in the hospitality industry, which today is as critical as providing a “wow” experience for the guest.

Finally, and most importantly, is our approach to our customers. DigiValet has never lost a customer – our 360-degree approach to all guest touchpoints, whether they be the iPad, mobile device, voice or chat is exceptional. For the hotelier, this level of service is paramount. We give our hotel partners peace of mind. Hoteliers need to worry about their guests’ well-being and satisfaction while they are on property and not about whether their technology will work or not.

DigiValet’s smart-hub concept enables us to provide a consistent experience across all interfaces and a single platform for their Content Management System. (CMS).

To quote Sir Richard Branson – “Don’t bother doing something unless you’re radically different from the competition” is something we live by daily – whether it is our technology, service, customer service or after sales care – we are radically different.

Using technology in hospitality must be about improving the guest experience, something we understand and take very seriously.

What prompted you to join DigiValet and move them into the North American hospitality market this year?

In one word “trust” – I have known Rahul and Rachana Salgia, the founders of DigiValet, since 2012. I met them for the first time at the Dubai Hotel Show. Over the years, I have followed DigiValet’s progress with awe, noting that whatever the company said that they would do – they did and whenever they said they would deliver – they delivered. They never make promises or commitments that the company could not live up to. Credibility ahead of anything else is key to success. DigiValet brings this credibility and trust, coupled with its exceptional innovation and technology, to a market seeking all the above. Timing could not have been better.

With this background, when Rahul contacted me about their desire, based on their international success, to now enter the north American market, I jumped at the prospect knowing how successful we could be here.

With the luxury and ultra-luxury market expanding rapidly, increasing ADR and looking to use technology as a brand differentiator, coupled with our ability to minutely customize our solution to each hotel need or requirement, I had no doubt that we would meet with success.

We have the distinct ability to offer a transformative, experiential and world leading guest experience which makes it exciting and timely to have started our operations here this year.

To quote one of our industries icons and a man who I have had the pleasure of meeting on numerous occasions – Mr. J.W. Marriott who so eloquently stated – “A brand is any kind of promise. If you deliver what you say you are going to deliver, and exceed if you can, you are going to create a great and everlasting image”.

This is exactly our credo and what we do so well – we exceed what we say we are going to do which is one of the many reasons I decided to both join, and spearhead our north American launch.

Were you given any advice or words of wisdom that you still carry with you today?

I have been very fortunate in my 27 years in the United States, the last 20 being in this great industry of ours, to have had some incredible mentors: Michael Leven, Vineet Gupta and Vivek Shaiva, to name just three people in our industry who have always been there with sound and honest advice that has stayed with me every day.

The best advice, however, that I ever received was from my father – who instilled in me the necessity for honesty and integrity when doing business.