Hotel Tech Live – Innovation Summary

Hotel & Spa Tech Live was held in the London ExCel between 25th-26th September, 2018. InnovationScouts.tech attended to see what was keeping hoteliers awake at night, and what innovative technologies are coming to the rescue.

Experience is king

During our conversations with, and presentations from, Rob Paterson (Best Western Hotels & Resorts, CEO), Jon Sharp (Hilton, Director Food & Beverage), Joe Pettigrew (Starwood Group, Director of Revenue Maximisation), Magdalena Osmola (Macdonald Hotels and Resorts, Marketing and Sales Director, Strategist) and Joanna Becker-Birk (Worldhotels, Senior Manager Marketing Strategy), it became clear that the emphasis is squarely on experience.

Jon Sharp - Hotel Tech Live - Consistency Creates Customer ConfidenceOccupancy rates are still top of the priority list, but guests are now expecting more from their hotel stay than a comfy bed and quiet room. Experience is tightly coupled with guest reviews, another major focus for the industry, and as Joanna mentioned, if you can raise your average reviews, you can raise your room rates.
Jon Sharp talked of the four-CsConsistency Creates Customer Confidence, and the importance of  “Own[ing] the WOW” when delivering a genuine experience. Demonstrating his natural story-telling style, Jon reinforced the importance of an honest story when articulating the reason a customer should buy from you.

Guest reviews and beyond

Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Booking.com and Expedia are widely referred to as ‘frenemies’. With their reach and marketing power they are a very important part of running modern-day hotels. We heard that the higher the rates, the more nit-picky guests can be which can lead to harsher reviews, so in peak times when room rates and guest expectations are highest, it is wise to spend more on ironing out any crinkles in the experience. Conversely, off-peak is the time to over-deliver and rack up your top reviews.

It comes down to data

Joe Pettigrew - Understand the Data Joe Pettigrew talked about how technology has levelled the playing field and that revenue growth now comes from understanding not just reviews, but the data behind the review, and indeed, the behaviour and expectations of the guest.
He showed how guests that booked through different OTAs valued different aspects of the stay. By understanding where guests are placing their booking, hoteliers can maximise their opportunity by talking a language that resonates with the customer on that OTA.

Joanna Becker-Birk World Hotels start with whyJoanna Becker-Birk touched on data, information and experience, encouraging the audience to think about Starting with the Why to create an emotional connection with your guests. Joanna reflected on how the industry has moved through eras of industrialisation, information and is now all about connections, in other words, relationships.

Technology trends

Magdalena Osmola, gave a fascinating presentation which included a topic on Good Marketing which echoed comments made earlier about being genuine and knowing what your customer really cares about. Her presentation continued to list out the major trends that she sees impacting the hotel industry in the coming years, these included:

Continuing importance of social media

Blockchain, with a particular mention of Brave’s Basic Attention Token

The rise of Voice platforms in discovery, booking and the experience

Beyond AI, the use of Artificial Emotional Intelligence (AEI) to better communicate with customers

How Bio-feedback wearables will help understand a guest’s true emotions

Highlighted technology providers

Hotel & Spa tech Live was a large event, bringing together a wide selection of hospitality trades from street food to hotel chains. Demonstrations ranged from semi-automated floor cleaning and glass-crushing to massage systems, coffee vending and revolutions in property management systems (PMS). For this report we chose to highlight three technologies for the hotel industry that address the issues mentioned above.

Property Management Systems – the heart of a hotel

Nearly every piece of hotel technology we saw hinged on integrating with the PMS. However, as an ex VP of Innovation from a major hotel brand said to us, “these things are like Jenga, no one want to touch them in case the whole lot tumbles down”.

Philip Von Ditfurth Apaleo, Open Cloud PMSTherefore Apaleo’s cloud based, open PMS stood out as a noteworthy innovation. Essentially they are trying to create an app-store type of environment to enable hotels of all sizes to build flexible, scalable PMS, through which they can address all the issues mentioned during the conference, and more.
Philip Von Ditfurth commented that the industry has moved from Property to Staff to Apps. He said technology should be enabling hospitality providers to focus on what they do best, serving guests, a sentiment also shared by Juliean Tourain from AvailPro, too.

High quality in-room entertainment

Another technology platform that hasn’t moved on fast enough is the in-room set-top-box and TV. This is an area RoomNetTV is addressing with an Apple TV based platform. RoomNetTV’s CEO, Darren King tells us more in our 60-second interview.

Data is everything

HGEM‘s Guest Experience Management Hub solution enables hotel owners to make sense of disparate data sources in a sophisticated manner. Taking input from many sources, including ‘mystery shopper’ reviews, guest surveys and other such as point-of-sale (POS). HGEM’s Managing Director, Steven Pike tells us more in our 60-second interview.

 

 


 

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Scott Stonham

Scott is Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at InnovationScouts.tech. He has been at the forefront of many technologies we take for granted today, including mobile internet and smartphone navigation. Today he helps clients navigate innovative emerging technologies and is available for speaking opportunities.

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