Editorial Board   Guest Author

Mr. Birmele

Henri Birmele

Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila Santa Monica

Henri Birmele, Managing Director, Hotel Shangrila, Santa Monica, CA has more than 25 years experience in every aspect of the hospitality industry. During his long career, he has worked in a variety of key positions all the while growing his knowledge and skills. He has moved through such assignments as a Director of Operations, Director of Food and Beverage, Hotel Manager, Vice President of Hospitality, General Manager to his current position as Managing Director. Before coming to Hotel Shangrila in 2010, Mr. Birmele's high profile career included executive positions at Shutters on the Beach, Santa Monica, CA.; Sheraton Universal, Universal City, CA.; Viceroy Hotel, Santa Monica, CA.; St. Regis, Washington, DC and Los Angeles, CA; and Turnberry Isle Resort and Spa, Miami, Fl. 
 A graduate of the prestigious Hotel School Lausanne in Switzerland, Mr. Birmele also has a degree in Global Business from the Benedict Business School in Zurich. During his career, he has had oversight for opening three new hotel properties as well as three hotel renovations. In his executive roles and within the industry, he is known for his project planning and management skills; human resources, team-building, staff retention and motivational skills; and cost cutting and profit building initiatives. A visible, hands-on manager, he is a staunch advocate for building strong relationships with all key constituent groups—everyone from guests, staff, owners/partners to community leaders, civic officials and vendors. His real-world approach to problem solving and his wealth of experience has allowed him to meet the challenges in the fast-paced and ever-changing hotel and hospitality industry.

Mr. Birmele can be contacted at 310-394-2791 or henri@shangrila-hotel.com

Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.