Born Corinthian. Adrian Scerri


If asked what comes to mind when one mentions a hotel, I believe the vast majority would picture a bedroom, a restaurant, or swimming pools but would not think of technology. I queried this with Adrian Scerri, Senior Head of Technology at Corinthia, who readily acknowledged this but quickly added that the initial mental picture would turn into a nightmare if the technology behind all that goes haywire. 

While hotels have historically been associated with providing physical amenities such as rooms, restaurants, and swimming pools, technology has become an increasingly important aspect of the hotel experience in recent years. Many hotels have incorporated various technological features to enhance guest comfort and convenience.

“Some basic examples of hotel technology which guests might encounter would include smart thermostats and lighting systems, high-speed Wi-Fi, digital concierge services that allow guests to book activities and transportation, IPTV with casting capabilities of your own content, room keyless entry using a smartphone and mobile applications for making room reservations and upsell during guest stays,

“Additionally, some hotels have begun incorporating more cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality experiences, augmented reality way-finding, and even robots that can assist with tasks such as delivering towels and room service items.

“So, while physical amenities are still a crucial aspect of the hotel experience, technology has become increasingly important and is likely to play a significant role in the future of hospitality.”

Technology is a vast concept and has developed exponentially. What is the technology which partners with a hotel? Can one speak of hospitality technology?

 Adrian responded in his typical passionate style. “Indeed, there is a specific category of technology known as hospitality or hotel technology designed to meet the unique or typical needs of the hotel industry. It encompasses a broad range of solutions and services specifically tailored to the needs of hotels and guests.

I asked for some examples, and Adrian efficiently provided some. “There are Property management systems (PMS) which manage various aspects of hotel operations, such as reservations, room assignments, billing, and guest profiles.

“Customer relationship management (CRM) allows hotels to track guest data, preferences, and behaviours to personalise the guest experience. This data would guide the hotel to offer services where the guest would have already shown his preference, thus achieving more concentrated and well-directed customer satisfaction.  

“Revenue management systems use data analysis and forecasting to optimise pricing strategies and maximise revenue.

“Channel management systems which allow our hotels to distribute their inventory across multiple online travel agencies (OTAs) and other distribution channels.

“Point-of-sale (POS) systems are used in hotel restaurants, bars, and other outlets to manage sales and inventory.

“Guest engagement and communication tools would include mobile apps and messaging platforms that allow hotels to communicate with guests before, during, and after their stay.

“In-room technology: This includes in-room entertainment systems, smart thermostats, lighting controls and IPTV platforms. I must add that we always try to keep a healthy balance. We cannot and should not assume that all guests are technology-friendly. So we offer alternatives: manual or technological. For example, a guest would still enjoy the option of using legacy switches to manage the room lighting and would not be forced to resort to more sophisticated technological alternatives. We do appreciate that many feel lost when faced with technological gadgets.

“Security and access control systems would include CCTV cameras, access control systems, and biometric technologies that help hotels ensure the safety and security of their guests.

“Overall, hospitality technology enables hotels to provide a seamless and personalised guest experience while optimising our operations and maximising revenue. Indeed specific systems ensure proper use of energy and reduce waste, thus increasing revenue apart from being eco-friendly.”

I could easily detect Adrian’s passion for his work and asked him if he had worked with Corinthia for many years. He smiled, then chuckled. “I was born Corinthian.”  He explained that his father worked as a supervisor with Corinthia’s Swan Laundry for some 25 years. When Adrian was studying in his sixth form, his father informed him that Swan Laundry had an opening for a laboratory technician to test Ph levels, jeans tear strength etc. It involved only a couple of hours a week. 

“That suited me fine since I could continue my studies and earn some pocket money. I applied and was chosen. I remember I was already into computers then, so I used it to prepare a special report with graphs and print it on my dot matrix printer. They were pretty impressed. 

“I continued my studies and completed my university course leading to B.Sc.IT. My obvious choice to start working was Corinthia. What else? I joined, and I have never looked back. Always forward. I started working at Jerma Palace when the computing world was alight with the Y2K problem or scare, which concerned potential computer errors related to the formatting and storage of calendar data for dates in and after the year 2000. So all computers and programs were reviewed, revised and re-tested to make them Y2K compliant. 

“The years 2000-2002 were life-changing. I completed my studies, started working with Corinthia, married, and had my first child. 

“Shortly after, I received a call to move to Corporate Office. Corinthia was fast expanding. We were opening in Lisbon, St Petersburg, Tripoli and so on. I worked on the opening of all those hotels’ technology. Those were such exciting years. My experience grew exponentially. I owe it all to Corinthia.

“I moved from IT Administration to IT Manager, then at Corporate Office I changed titles a couple of times. I confess I forgot them. You see, in 2010, the Corinthia Group experienced a considerable shift in its Technology Strategy when we moved our technology to Cloud. Up to that time, all the hotels worked separately with their separate technology. They were not integrated. Then we moved all our hotels to a Cloud platform, integrating one database, clients, systems, management etc. It was hard work but so refreshingly exciting and essential. 

“Two years ago, I was promoted to Senior Head of Technology.”

What main tasks fall under this new ambit? Adrian’s face turned pensive. He was concentrating on how to avoid a long answer. 

I shall only mention some of them. 

“One crucial duty is developing and implementing the company’s technology strategy. I am responsible for setting the overall direction for the company’s technology initiatives and ensuring they align with its overall goals and objectives.

“I also manage the company’s technology budget. I am responsible for allocating resources to various technology projects and initiatives and ensuring the company’s technology spending is efficient and effective.

“I also identify and evaluate new technologies. As Senior Head of Technology, I must remain constantly up-to-date on the latest trends and advancements in technology and identify opportunities for the company to adopt new technologies that could improve its operations, products, or services.

“Naturally, I am responsible for hiring, training, and managing a team of technology professionals who can help the company achieve its technology goals.

“One other essential duty is ensuring the security and integrity of the company’s technology systems. The aim is to make sure that the company’s technology systems are secure and protected against cyber threats and that they meet industry standards and regulations all the time. This is not any easy task with all that’s happening in cybercrime right now.

“Naturally, I collaborate with all other departments, such as marketing, sales, finance, engineering and product development, to ensure the technology initiatives align with their needs and goals. 

I would say that overall, I play a critical role in shaping our company’s technological direction and ensuring that its technology investments deliver business value.”

Adrian sighed heavily. “That’s it…more or less.” But he said it with his typical smile, which betrayed a true passion for his work.

So, hospitality technology is vital for an excellent and efficient service.  It’s not a fancy idea but an essential tool. 

That is perfectly so. It helps to improve the guest experience, streamline operations, and increase revenue. Let me offer a few examples.

“Hospitality technology can be used to personalise the guest experience by providing personalised recommendations and experiences based on guest preferences and behaviours. For example, a hotel might use a CRM system to track guest preferences and offer customised amenities or services.

“Hospitality technology can help to automate and streamline various operational tasks, such as managing reservations, processing payments, and tracking inventory. This helps reduce the workload on staff, minimise errors, and improve overall efficiency.

“It also helps to optimise pricing and distribution strategies, increasing revenue and profitability. Revenue management systems, for example, can analyse market data and consumer behaviour to optimise pricing and inventory availability.

“Hospitality technology provides businesses with real-time data insights to help them take better-informed decisions. For example, a hotel might use a data analytics platform to track occupancy rates, room rates, and other key metrics to make data-driven decisions.

“It also improves marketing efforts. Hospitality technology can help businesses to reach their target audience more effectively by providing better segmentation, targeting, and personalisation. For example, a hotel might use a customer data platform to segment its audience and deliver targeted marketing campaigns.

So, as you see, overall, hospitality technology plays a critical role in helping hospitality businesses improve the guest experience, streamline operations, and increase revenue. By investing in the right technology solutions, hospitality businesses can stay competitive and deliver value to their guests.

I suppose the drive in this technology area is a two-way drive: enhancing customers’ experience and acquiring/ameliorating a commercial advantage. Is the challenge becoming more fruitful, more demanding, and more specialised? 

Yes, the drive in the hospitality technology area is a two-way street, with businesses focused on both enhancing the customer experience and gaining a competitive advantage.

“As technology continues to evolve and new solutions emerge, the challenge of adopting and integrating new technologies is becoming more complex and specialised. This is particularly true in the hospitality sector, where businesses must contend with various complex challenges, from managing complex guest needs to optimising operational efficiency.

“At the same time, the potential benefits of hospitality technology are also increasing as businesses have access to an ever-expanding range of solutions that can help them improve the guest experience and drive revenue growth.

“Some of the key trends driving the hospitality technology landscape include:

The rise of mobile: The increasing use of smartphones and other mobile devices drives demand for mobile-centric solutions, such as mobile check-in and in-room controls.

“Personalisation: Customers increasingly expect personalised experiences and hospitality businesses are responding with technologies that allow them to deliver customised experiences based on guest preferences and behaviours.

“Integration: As technology solutions become more specialised, businesses invest in integrated technologies, allowing them to create a more seamless guest experience and streamline operations.

“Data analytics: The increasing use of data analytics enables hospitality businesses to gain more significant insights into customers behaviours and preferences, allowing them to make more informed decisions and optimise their operations.

“Overall, the hospitality technology landscape is becoming more specialised, more complex, and more demanding as businesses seek to leverage technology to gain a competitive advantage and deliver a better guest experience. The challenge for businesses will be to stay on top of the latest trends and technologies and find the right solutions that fit their unique needs and goals.”

Adrian and his wonderful wife, Colette

Our chat clearly showed that Adrian was fully engrossed in and taken up by the multifarious demands of his work. So how does Adrian relax after a day’s hard work? “Mainly, I enjoy my family. My frequent work-related travels minimised my family contact. I now want to enjoy them to the hilt. I have a wonderful wife, Colette, who works as a teacher. Perhaps the word “works” is not proper. Teaching is not just her job; it is her vocation, her passion. She adores her pupils and could bring them all home if she could. I have two children. Neil, who is 21, is in his third year of Law at the University. He is a perfectionist, like me and a very keen Chelsea football fan. He has managed to rope me in. I have another son, Aiden, who is 14. He enjoys his studies but has not yet decided whether to take the technology road, like me, or the Arts road, like his mother, who is engrossed in language studies. There’s no hurry. It will all crystallise when he needs to decide. 

I also make it a point to visit my and Colette’s parents regularly. We owe them a lot for their help, upbringing and example.”

So, Adrian seems like a blessed professional man, husband, and father and such an easy-going character. “Indeed, I am. Life has been very good to me.”