2020 – Hospitality technology positives in an extraordinary year.

TRAVHOTECH 2020 Hospitality Technology

After the year the travel & hospitality industry has had in 2020 it would be easy to focus on unprecedented impacts that COVID has had on the hospitality industry. Although as they say every cloud has a silver lining. Here’s TRAVHOTECH’s view on accentuating the hospitality technology positives in 2020.

Let’s not forget that the 20-30 decade is expected to see upwards of 10% global growth in travel and tourism. We are only in year 1.

IDEM Hospitality

We’re big fans of those bold enough to tackle the long-standing challenges that our industry has ‘managed’ for decades. IDEM Hospitality is a shining example of one of the major business process show stoppers that has never really been addressed with a technology solution. Group business bookings and rooming list management.

Enter IDEM. In a life of a company terms, only young and the macro circumstances of 2020 on their business has been brutal. Despite this, two things we know will happen. Volume business will return. The cumbersome and time-consuming process and administration will also return.

IDEM has tackled that challenge and during 2020 also merged with Groups360. Astute for both parties and as friends and with a number of other long-time industry colleagues involved, we were pleased for their success and the outcome. The new organization will be ready for the return of volume business.

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Haddington Dynamics

Haddington is an example of what we like to think the new Vegas represents. A great location to base your business and building a product that is high-tech leading-edge technology with global application.

Haddington produces Dexter. An affordable haptic robot arm produced in light manufacturing industry. It can literally be 3D Printed. Dexter is easily ‘educated’ for the function or role that it needs to perform. That can range from painting to pouring drinks or testing a technical component. Essentially anything a human arm can do can be achieved by Dexter with the correct interchangeable ‘hand’ component.

The business community has noticed and Dexter has been placed in industry luminaries such as Dupont and NASA. So much so that in November Haddington Dynamics was acquired by British automated retailer Ocado Group bringing more robotic tech into their portfolio and business process.

We are thrilled for Kent, Todd, James, fellow antipodean Jason and the team at HD. We look forward to seeing what’s next.

Volara

Another company who has tackled one of the major industry inflection points, voice assistants. Major mind shifts require an incredible amount of energy and persistence in the hospitality industry. Has anyone ever noticed that change comes hard?

It’s our view that this is one of the genuine breakthrough technology additions of 2020 with a significant long-term impact on industry in general. Particularly travel and hospitality. 

Firstly, with Alexa and now with Google the Volara team are gaining real traction demanding attention particularly on the back of the COVID situation as a genuine solution for touchless guest experiences on property.

Of even greater importance is the work that is being done with real time language translation through the Google Translator Assistant. Although not specifically hospitality technology it’s our view that this is one of the genuine breakthrough technology additions of 2020 with a significant long-term impact on industry in general. Particularly travel and hospitality.

Travel by its nature moves people from the world they normally exist in to places they visit or do business. One of the major barriers to global communication, commerce and working relationships is language. As a species we have 23 major languages used around the world today.

Choosing where to live, work and visit is something that language deeply impacts. Also, from an industry perspective one of the barriers to guest comfort and confidence is always language – understanding and being understood. It literally inhibits people from experiencing and engaging fully in a location. Having worked internationally for a career and focused on overcoming language barriers through technology I can vouch for this.

The combination of voice assistants and the real time translation will be solid foundation for the transition to more of these services deployed in the industry.

David, JC and team have persisted with the message, and we anticipate the corner to the home straight is currently being turned.

Hudini

If you’ve ever deployed the combination of in room entertainment systems with the myriad of hospitality technology componentry involved in a hotel environment, you will be familiar with the challenges and ongoing frustration such an environment brings about.

This is a challenging space in our industry, and we see real potential for a better outcome in this very tough integration space through the Hudini model.

So much so that in a past life I stopped deploying this technology entirely. The guest didn’t mind either.

Shifting my position on this element of technology in industry was tough. I recently investigated new industry entrant, Hudini and their approach on overcoming the major challenge points of this technology environment and ecosystem.

In a nutshell Hudini have taken an approach using service bus technology with API’s to be the central connecting software hub for the range of technology in the guest room – Magic. One place for all the software connectivity to take place. On the back of their approach behavioral and customer information can be consolidated on the guest room environment. The customer facing element of the software accommodates all of the bells and whistles one would expect to find, but the core is the differentiator.

Industry has taken notice with astute observers recognizing the opportunity and engaging with the company.

This is a challenging space in our industry, and we see real potential for a better outcome in this very tough integration space through the Hudini model.

There are some bright and successful minds behind the company with Prince, Joe and Rob and longtime friend James Fothergill engaging with the industry.

WTF

Local entrepreneur Nicholas Spindel and his technology startup Where’s the Food Truck ended up benefiting from the impact of the pandemic. Why? Because a Food Truck combines outdoor dining and low contact experiences with an interesting small operator led food and beverage experience. The company saw significant growth though the pandemic and achieved the fundraising targets as well.

Great to see this success from a Las Vegas hospitality technology company that we were pleased to lend some of expertise and experience too.

Remo

The digital event is now here and something we have embraced in 2020 either exuberantly or reluctantly, appreciating we don’t have much choice. I’ve personally experienced multiple technology platforms that have burst on to the scene with the demand for distributed gatherings. Some have been good. Others have been terrible.

Luis tells me that it is more cost effective than a Wednesday night MTech party at HITEC!

Our observation is that digital events must be approached in an entirely different manner to an in person event. Although the one part of events that has been difficult to replicate is networking. There are a number of approaches to this part of a conference, but in fairness to everyone involved how do you create a room full of people where seeing someone you know or want to meet across the room is possible?

Leave it to Luis Segredo to find a tool that takes positive steps toward making digital networking possible. If you were at HITEC and attended Luis’ company HAPI’s Happy Hour you will have been exposed to a software application called Remo. It was one of the best things we saw at HITEC.

The software allows the creation of a designed floor plan with tables, bars, meeting rooms and so forth and you can digitally sit down in one of the locations and have an online video chat with the group in that space. Masterful and a great user experience too. Check it out here.

Luis tells me that it is more cost effective than a Wednesday night MTech party at HITEC!

Online Happy Hours

Happy Hour Goes Online as Coronavirus Forces Everyone Inside - WSJ

If you’d suggested to me that an online happy hour would be a thing or something I would personally engage in at the beginning of 2020 I would have laughed. And yet I finish the year having participated in this format in both small and medium sized groups with a positive view of the experience.

I would much prefer in person, but the learning through the experience is that the video conferencing approach has been positive. Grab yourself a drink and connect on your favorite video conferencing platform for a chat and a beverage.

I’ve been surprised that some of these sessions have gone on for hours and people tend to focus on the discussion more deeply without distraction. A drink doesn’t hurt either.

Video Conferencing

For so long in business we’ve all resisted the video conference. Happy to join by phone. Prefer not to be seen or seen in the place where you may have been at that moment. Along came COVID and all of a sudden, the video conference gains a new level of acceptance.

That we are all mature enough to appreciate we can talk about serous things in a T shirt and shorts and make meaningful progress in the business world.

What’s brought about the change? We believe the major shift to people working at home along with a broader acceptance that when people join a call they may not be in their best suit and tie or positioned in their corner office of big corp. A collective understanding seems to have been reached that everyone is making the best of a tough situation. That we are all mature enough to appreciate we can talk about serous things in a T shirt and shorts and make meaningful progress in the business world.

As a result, the workplace flexibility and location is a cultural shift which will make better lives and circumstances for people who are able to perform work in such an environment. We will look back upon this year in history for the major shift it created in less than a year.

Oracle

Having some history here and still many friends it was pleasing to see the shift in engagement this year making the process of connecting to Oracles’ hospitality industry applications easier for industry technology partners.

The company has been much maligned over several years since the Oracle buy out of Micros. Although with an industry heavily invested in the companys software around the globe a step away from the perception (not necessarily the reality) that the company has been unwilling and resisted connectivity is a very important development.

Naturally, those companies that are operating on Oracle hospitality technology will be encouraged. It will also be positive for Oracle and their broader software portfolio not specific to hospitality in the future.

Behavior of the hospitality industry

The situation for the hospitality industry has been astounding. Clearly it is not over yet. Although both observing and participating in industry this last 10 months has been eye opening. From my home town here in Las Vegas to around the world, the manner in which the industry has behaved, accepted the challenge and soldiered through circumstances beyond its control has been exemplary.

However, faced with the circumstances as a general rule industry has done the right thing.

None of this takes away from the devastation on business, jobs, commerce and economics in general. However, faced with the circumstances as a general rule industry has done the right thing. Cooperated when asked by government bodies and with varying degrees done the best they can to alleviate these challenges. The entire community including the supplier and operators. We’ve even seen serious effort applied to short term innovation to address immediate challenges.

It’s been uplifting to witness this behavior and is those same values and resiliency that gives me confidence that we will return. Let’s not forget that the 20-30 decade is expected to see upwards of 10% global growth in travel and tourism. We are only in year 1. We will be back. How the industry looks might shift slightly, but as a species of wanderers for exploration, commerce and enjoyment we will return bigger and better!

As we look toward 2021 most anticipate a general improvement in conditions for industry. Technology with a heightened profile will be key to operational and guest environments moving forward. If you would like to discuss technology initiatives for your organization TRAVHOTECH has a range of capabilities to assist operators and vendors. You can contact us at info@travhotech.com.

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