"Having been born in a hotel and having lived in hotels my entire life, I feel I have a good understanding of the industry“

Ian Millar, Project Manager METRO Innovation Chair and Senior Lecturer at the prestigious Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, is also a Certified Hospitality Technology Professional – the first European to receive this qualification for hospitality professionals. He sais “the injection of startups is exactly what our industry needs”. Why? Find out for yourself in our interview:

What can you contribute as a mentor at the Metro Accelerator? What experience can you share?

Having been born in a hotel and having lived in hotels my entire life, I feel I have a good understanding of the industry. I have held various positions in the industry operational and managerial heavily linked to technology. For the last 15 years I have worked in an academic institution. One of my main activities on top of my teaching is working on the Student Business projects doing industry research projects for companies. Outside the school I am active in HFTP and currently working with them putting together the HITEC Amsterdam program. So hopefully this mix of industry, academic and business experience will be useful to the startups.

Why did you decide to be a mentor at the Metro Accelerator?

I found this to be an exciting possibility to be part of a great initiative. For far too long our industry has been ruled by too few BIG tech companies. The injection of startups is exactly what our industry needs to take it out of its current analogue status into a new and exciting digital world.

What is your advice for startups?

Forget the business plan!!!!! No really in the beginning getting your product to a state where it is presentable for me is more important than the business plan. Of course you will do one, but don’t waste valuable time and resources on that at the start.

What do you think are the future trends in the restaurant/hotel business? How will the hotel of the future look like?

Convenience for me is the overlying word on this question. Robotics will take a place for sure, I think though this will be more back of house automation as well as voice recognition technology and allowing the guest to do more themselves, from ordering and paying.

Where do you see the biggest need for digitization in the restaurant/hotel sector?

Knowledge!!! What I mean by this is the people. We need to find ways of educating restaurateurs on technology, how technology can enable their business. Still too many people consider technology as an afterthought, consider it too expensive or just do not put enough time into leveraging technology.

Are there any innovations that have gotten your attention recently?

Voice recognition. There is a QSR chain currently using this in their operations and the results are incredible. Decrease in service time, decrease in customer complaints and increase in revenue, restaurant utopia!!

What do you think will change for restaurant/hotel customers in the next years?

Mobile!! By moving analogue touch points to a mobile guest centric approach great things can happen. Reservations, self-ordering, self-check in, payment, feedback, restaurants and hotels need to leverage this opportunity.

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