[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics is spurring efforts to apply its hospitality management technology in hotels overseas, including those in the US and Europe, temporarily shifting its focus away from domestic hotels due to lackluster progress, sources familiar with the matter told The Korea Herald.
According to the sources from the hotel industry, Samsung tested its Lynk Hospitality Management Solution at the Grand Ambassador Seoul and Novotel Ambassador Suwon last October, but application of the system was held back.
Samsung’s Lynk HMS, an operating solution for the company’s television sets provided at hotels, enables hotel guests to automatically control room temperature, lighting, curtains and energy use by using a Samsung TV as a main control hub.
Samsung developed the solution as part of its hospitality TV package for hotels to create another major source of profit from business-to-business transactions apart from its main business-to-consumer electronics businesses.
Despite the pilot operation of the Samsung system at some of its rooms, Grand Ambassador Seoul decided in February this year to develop its own hospitality management system, named “iStay,” through a collaboration with a domestic startup based on the Internet of Things.
“Unlike the TV-centered Samsung system, we want to develop a system that can maximize the digital experience of our guests from a hotelier’s point of view,” said Jun Young-chul, managing director of the iStay project at Grand Ambassador Seoul.
According to Jun, the hotel’s smart room plan largely focuses on the development of a cloud-based platform using IoT technology that could, for instance, work via smart devices.
“Electronics makers would supply fancy-looking smart products that require remote controllers rather than IoT features,” he said.
In December 2014, France’s Accor Group announced a partnership with Samsung to operate 20 “smart hotels” in Korea by 2017. But since the announcement, no progress has been made except for a few tests in the very initial stage, according to a group official.
Samsung is now looking to hotels in other countries to supply its hospitality management solution along with its TV sets.
“Samsung has been very aggressive in expanding this B2B hotel technology business across the globe, but they do not seem to be ready yet in Korea,” said a source from a Paris-based hotel and tourism consulting firm, adding that the company is probably starting its IoT business with hotels first and planning to expand into other sectors.
As part of the plan, Samsung scouted an experienced hotel technology engineer from Japan’s Docomo Technology, the source said.
In 2015, Samsung launched a new B2B brand, named Samsung Business, to strengthen its B2B solution business. The company is currently developing more than 90 kinds of IT solutions for six targeted industries: education, medicine, logistics, hotel and finance.
Earlier this month, Samsung Electronics America clinched a partnership with Sonifi Solutions, a US provider of interactive guest engagement solutions, to offer hoteliers an integrated in-room technology bundle.
The package includes Samsung Hospitality TV with the Lynk Reach 4.0 Content Management Solution and Sonifi’s Staycast streaming solution, powered by Google Chromecast.
“The company is enhancing its B2B business by running a specialized team for hospitality TV sets,” said a spokeswoman at Samsung Electronics.
“Although it is still too early to announce the names of the hotels, tests of the solution are being conducted at various hotels worldwide.”
By Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)