by Cheryl-Anne Sturken | September 28, 2015

rufino perezThe NH Hotel Group might have just one hotel in the United States — the 242-room Hotel NH New York, Jolly Madison Towers — but its global portfolio spans more than 400 properties in 29 countries. And, while its European competitors are touting their commitment to chic design and trendy restaurant concepts, this Madrid, Spain-based hotel company is focused on upping its meetings technology game.

In a recent sit-down with The Hotel Insider, Rufino Pérez, chief commercial officer for NH, talked candidly about the company's investment in technology, its new lifestyle brand, "nhow," and the brand's overall expansion strategy.

What is NH Smart Room meetings technology, and how does it work?
Our meeting rooms are equipped with the Smart Room System for Microsoft Lync, which combines the best of videoconferencing with interactive collaboration. With this system, our meeting clients have the possibility of two types of meetings, online and offline. Lync Online has the possibility to connect up to 250 participants in real time, from any device, and they can share meeting content with just one click. And for offline meetings, we've equipped our meeting rooms with the most advanced visual solutions, like interactive flip charts and 3-D holographic projection technology, which we believe is an industry first.

How many NH properties have the new technology in place?
Well, we looked at hotels in our collection that are focused on the meeting and event segment, such as the NHow in Berlin, NH Laguna Palace in Italy and the NH Collection Eurobuilding in Madrid. Right now, our plan is to continue increasing the number of Smart Rooms in our other meeting hotels in Europe.

How important is meetings business to NH, and do you plan on growing this segment?
Meetings account for about 25 percent of our revenue and play a very important role. Our hotels have some 2,600 meeting rooms in total. Our goal is to host unique events that inspire. Aside from the new meeting-room technology, one of our core meeting offerings is our Ambassador Service. Each meeting of more than 100 is assigned a dedicated ambassador to work with, from contracting to the invoicing phase. And our chefs have created Tempting Breaks, healthy gastronomic offerings, for groups.

Can you tell me a little bit about your new lifestyle brand, NHow?
Nhow is our most unconventional brand. Each hotel is a unique creation. We have designed them to break established molds and elevate the visitor's senses through new forms of contemporary architecture, design, technology and smart luxury. To do that, we worked with prestigious architects and well-known European interior designers, such as Mateo Thun, Rem Koolhas and Karim Rashid. Nhow hotels will be located in key urban areas that are undergoing a transformation, so each location will inspire the personality of the hotel.

What do you think separates NH in the marketplace, which is getting more crowded with new brands?
Our main motivation is guest satisfaction. We are proud to have the best professionals on our team that have been trained to guarantee excellent service. Also, we have solutions that adapt to our guests' needs, which makes their experience with us that more memorable. Our ambition is simple: Whenever anyone contemplates a trip to a city for an overnight stay or a meeting, we want them to first always ask themselves, "Is there an NH hotel at my destination?"

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