October 9, 2023
Sandals Resorts has been lauded by Jamaica’s minister of tourism as a pioneer in hospitality education, as the company launched a virtual and augmented reality platform to provide cutting edge spatial AI technology to its professionals.
The platform was launched last Thursday by Sandals Corporate University (SCU) under a partnership with multinational virtual reality and augmented reality software developer EON Reality.
“I laud Sandals for having further consolidated itself as a trailblazer, spearheading the provision of digital solutions for the management of tourism. That puts them in a league by themselves and truly, I am so proud to be the minister at this time as Sandals makes this quantum leap into the future of human capital development,” Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett said in his keynote address at the event launch.
He saluted the partnership with SCU and EON Reality as a forward-thinking collaboration that will drastically change the way education and training is done, not only in the tourism industry but other industries in the region.
“In our pursuit of excellence in tourism, it is always important for us to recognise and celebrate projects and innovators who push boundaries beyond leveraging the transformative capabilities of modern technology. I take this opportunity to celebrate in the next achievements of EON Reality. This company has evolved into a global pioneer on VR and AI software development. Sandals’ vision of fostering workforce empowerment constitutes a perfect alliance,” he said.
“The launch of the platform is a milestone innovation that has the potential to dramatically reshape the education and training landscape in the tourism sector and other industries … This provides a comprehensive and immersive educational experience that contributes to securing the future of tourism in the process of engaging knowledge where this platform will extend beyond just consumption and will encompass elements of truly value added educational experience, such as active interaction, immersion, creativity, imagination and practical application,” the minister said.
The world, he argued, is characterised by rapidly changing technology and initiatives such as the SCU-EON XR Platform will guarantee that tourism’s position as a global leader in education and training will be sustained.
“The goal is not to merely establish a platform, but more importantly, it is to herald the advent of a new paradigm in education transformation,” he said.
The partnership with SCU and EON was made possible through an in-kind co-investment from EON and a donation through the EON Reality Learn for Life Foundation valued at more than US$30,000,000.
The advanced AI-based features of EON Reality’s suite of offerings will enable SCU to streamline the establishment of customised training content and the EON AI assistant will offer support, facilitating the creation, distribution and consumption of information.
A feature of the technology is the use of spatial AI, equipped with a fully interactive avatar with the capacity to engage with its surroundings. It will be able to demonstrate and teach various in-resort operations, by using XR demonstrations to guide team members in interacting with real-world tasks and providing real-time feedback.
Executive chairman of Sandals Resorts International Adam Stewart expressed how proud and excited he was at this move by SCU and reflected on the journey of training team members from the initial start of the company to its current status.
“Training has always been a key part of the Sandals journey from the inception of the organisation, long before Sandals was a brand and long before we even had two hotels. Mr Merrick Fray realised, with my father’s support, the importance of what training could mean to creating a dream that they had,” said Stewart, whose father, the late Gordon “Butch” Stewart, founded Sandals.
“Learning has always and will always be at the centre of what is the hallmark of Sandals and Beaches Resorts. One thing that will not change with all the changes taking place around us is that service is executed person to person, smile to smile, and to the degree to which we can crack that code of transferring knowledge to what is now thousands and thousands of Caribbean nationals,” he said.
So far, 60 instructors have been trained by the EON team and certified as EON educators and coaches within the Sandals and Beaches brands. Another 40 individuals are currently in training and are expected to be certified before year end. An additional, 6,000 licences will be distributed across the group to include other training partners in expanding the use of the platform by 2024.
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