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Marriott International to Provide Personal Alert Devices for Housekeepers and Other Hotel Associates Across the US and Canada

Marriott 6 September 2018
As part of its ongoing focus on safety, Marriott International [NASDAQ: MAR] today announced it is ramping up the deployment of alert devices for housekeepers and other on-property associates allowing them to discretely summon help if they feel harassed in any way, need quick support or spot a guest in distress.Further signaling its ongoing commitment to safety, the company will be making associate alert devices a new standard across its portfolio of more than 5,000 managed and franchised hotels in the United States and Canada and is exploring similar technology solutions to meet the needs of its global hotel portfolio and workforce. The associate alert technology rollout is projected to continue through 2020 as the company and its franchise partners fine-tune and tailor installations at individual sites ranging from high rise city properties to sprawling resorts to suburban hotels.After more than a year of field testing and modifying solutions based on input from housekeepers and safety and security experts, Marriott International and its franchise partners are expanding and accelerating the rollout of associate alert technology, including devices that can pinpoint the location of the alert issuer, which has proven effective in scenarios where rapid response is critical and in hotel settings which can be more than a million square feet in size.The move sets a high bar within the industry and was applauded by the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), which today convened leaders from multiple member hotel companies committed to protecting employees as well as the millions of guests who stay in hotels each day."No one should ever be fearful doing their job, least of all associates on-property who are so vital to the success of our company and our industry," said Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer, Marriott International. "The safety of everyone at our properties is always a top priority as is deterring and combatting harassment of any kind. I'm deeply proud to say our entire industry is unified around these important goals."At testing locations to date, many housekeepers have expressed relief and described heightened peace of mind, not because they've had to use the device, but because they know they can if trouble arises."I've spoken with housekeepers who describe the feeling of walking into a guest room and not knowing what's on the other side of the door," said Erika Alexander, Chief Lodging Services Officer, The Americas, for Marriott International and a former Marriott Hotel General Manager. "Realizing they now have a device right at their fingertips is automatically empowering and it reminds them they're not alone. I hear the relief and confidence in their voices, I see it in their faces. Not only does it make them feel better, it makes their families feel better about the work environment they're in. That's why we're doing this."Marriott housekeepers echo this sentiment. "It's a big relief for the whole family. First of all, for me being on the floor late and for my husband and kids. We don't have to worry about mommy, she's never going to be in danger. She's working in a safe environment," shared Latifa E., a Marriott Housekeeper."Everybody is happy in the hotel about this change, because everybody feels more safe," said Carlos C., a Marriott Housekeeping Aid.The associate alert device puts another tool in the hands of Marriott's tens of thousands of associates and complements the company's regular safety and security training and protocols. Together, these tools collectively foster a safer environment in which associates are better able to care for each other and hotel guests."The real magic happens when it all comes together, and everybody does their part to create a safe work environment and guest experience," emphasized Alexander. "Putting people first is never going to change as a Marriott core value, but what that looks like and what tools and resources are available to us will evolve over time. In this phase, we're dialing up on safety and security."NOTE TO EDITORS: B-roll package includes:Housekeepers at work with the alert deviceClose-ups of housekeeper activating device and summoning helpSecurity action shots, including hotel security officer arriving on-scene to assist housekeeperTeam training session with head of hotel security giving product demoHousekeeper, security expert & executive soundbites
Article by Avukile Mabombo

Technology: Great enabler for hospitality professionals

Marriott 3 September 2018
It's well known that technology is only as useful as the user (and the purposes for which it is being used). The many uses of technology in business present fantastic opportunities to tap into broader markets and opportunities; it's an enabler that should be embraced, and that's the message the UNWTO is driving in this year's World Tourism Day's theme: transformative technology in tourism.Disrupting an industryTechnology isn't simply what happens inside your computer or mobile device, it governs every aspect of what we're doing, having an impact on sustainability initiatives, resource management, community empowerment and opportunity creation for SMEs. Of course, it's also providing access to remarkable industry advances via data-driven analysis and insights and, quite recently, the increasing influence of AI and the rise of the Smart Hotel Room. The benefits are immense, for both hospitality professionals and travellers on the receiving end, for whom the Visitor Experience is enhanced.The trick is to ensure that all technology enhancements are seamlessly introduced, and that they don't complicate the experience for visitors: there's no sense rolling out a complex app that only a small percentage of users will be able to fully grasp - to do so would be at the risk of alienating a large proportion of your customer base. For example, Amazon recently announced that they'd be pulling back on AI-driven apps in favour of rules-based chatbots, following feedback that their voice-based AI apps had trouble in getting to the right information when interacting with customers, while rules-based chatbots have a much higher success rate in getting from A to B. Besides the technological solutions, it's also imperative to maintain human assistants for those customers who prefer the human touch, as well as for interactions that go beyond the typical request for information.Technology's role in hospitality has meant the creation of jobs within the sector; far from replacing humans, it's provided a whole new sphere of work for designers, coders and managers, in addition to increased opportunities for jobs such as social media and community management. It allows for more direct communication with your customers, in turn, allowing you to address any shortcomings in business as well as to create tailored marketing campaigns according to customer preferences.Built to lastWhen it comes to sustainability, we're not just talking about the natural environment, the entire hospitality ecosystem must be built on sustainability principles, and tech advances allow for greater opportunities to do this, from building environmentally-friendly hotels to tapping into alternative resources such as solar power or water-friendly solutions. In addition, innovative approaches to waste disposal and recycling can go a long way towards reducing a property's carbon footprint.For SMEs that work directly with the hospitality industry as suppliers or service providers, innovative solutions can ensure that there's no interruption to the supply chain and provide flexibility so that spending is kept under control. That provides the hotel with the chance to work in more integrated fashion with local communities, so the benefits of having a hotel in a neighbourhood are evenly spread, from employment opportunities to the use of locally-produced goods and services. Resource management is a necessary function for any property, and technology allows for enhanced measurement and ordering capabilities.Ultimately, the UNWTO has quite rightly recognised the all-encompassing role of technology in driving this brave new world of hospitality, and it's essential to embrace it, find out how to use it to enable your business and speak the language of your customers, whose expectations are constantly evolving.

Joint Venture of Alibaba Group and Marriott International Trials Facial Recognition Check-In Technology

Marriott 11 July 2018
"We are excited to partner with the joint venture yet again to offer an innovative and convenient check-in alternative for Chinese travelers. Marriott International has a track record of embracing cutting-edge technology to create memorable experiences for guests," highlighted Mr. Henry Lee, Chief Operations Officer and Managing Director of Marriott International Greater China and Board Member of the Joint Venture. "With technology, our hotel associates can work more efficiently to do what they do best - delivering personalized service to our guests." With Fliggy's expertise in facial recognition technology and the joint venture's hospitality insights, the pilot will kick off from July 2018 at two Marriott International properties in China - Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiangand Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, with the goal of global rollout across Marriott International's properties in the future. This move is set to position Marriott International as a pioneer global hospitality company to offer this seamless check-in experience for Chinese travelers.The traditional hotel check-in process takes at least 3 minutes and even more during peak times with most of it spent on queuing. With the adoption of facial recognition technology, the check-in process can be completed in less than a minute. Chinese guests simply need to scan their IDs, take a photo and input contact details on a self-help machine. The intelligent device will then dispense room key cards after identities and booking information are verified.Through strategic findings from the joint venture, facial recognition check-in improves operational efficiencies. And according to market research results by consulting firm Ipsos[1], Chinese travelers have shown a strong interest in new technologies in hotels with over 60% showing their preference for facial recognition technology.Since the establishment of the joint venture in August 2017, Marriott International has benefited tremendously from the joint venture's comprehensive matrix of digital travel solutions and consultancy services, including digital platform consulting and management, customized marketing, business intelligence; and service innovation. The Marriott storefront on Fliggy (marriottcn.fliggy.com) is now managed by the joint venture given its digital platform consulting and management expertise, and it is also a Chinese booking gateway with multi-faceted offerings in one platform. Guests can now access to approximately 6,000 hotels from across Marriott International's global inventory of 30 brands and choose Li Yu certified hotels, presented in a Chinese traveler-friendly layout. As a firm that seeks to redefine the travel experience for Chinese travelers, the joint venture has also enabled a seamless booking experience by rolling out the Post Post Pay functionality at over 1,000 Marriott International hotels globally; in addition to enabling exclusive members-only rates through the storefront.Along with digital enhancements, Marriott International has also witnessed significant growth of over two million loyalty members as of June 2018. Enabled by the joint venture, members can now link their Marriott Rewards and Fliggy memberships through status matching, earn points and enjoy benefits from both programs."We are proud to have a hand in supporting Marriott International to redefine the experience of Chinese travelers with innovative services," highlighted Mr. David Chai, CEO of the joint venture. "These accomplishments thus far are testament to our solid expertise of providing effective solutions and services across the entire journey of a traveler; and we look forward to continuing reinventing and showcasing our expertise."Moving forward, the joint venture will continue its work on enhancing the storefront and linking the loyalty programs of Marriott International and those of the Alibaba ecosystem; allowing more Chinese consumers to enjoy personalized and VIP experiences.

Marriott International Elevates Travel Experience For Chinese Consumers

Marriott 30 April 2018
The newly launched and enhanced Marriott storefront on Alibaba's travel service platform, Fliggy, elevates the online booking experience.Post Post Pay, Fliggy's innovative hotel reservation service, allows qualified users to travel first and pay after their stay.Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) announced its redesigned storefront on Fliggy, Alibaba's travel service platform, and the rollout of Post Post Pay (PPP) functionality across more than 1,000 Marriott hotels globally. Through the digital solutions, Marriott International elevates both the online and offline travel experience for Chinese consumers.As part of Marriott's first phase of service enhancements, its new storefront on Fliggy (marriottcn.fliggy.com) will elevate the digital experience for Chinese consumers. Beginning in April 2018, the new storefront will feature approximately 6,000 hotels from across Marriott International's global inventory of 30 brands, presented in a Chinese traveler-friendly layout. Through the storefront, Fliggy's innovative PPP functionality will be offered to qualified Fliggy users at more than 1,000 hotels globally, including more than 270 hotels in the Greater China region, where the service is already available, and in high-demand locations throughout the Asia Pacific region, such as Australia, Japan, the Maldives, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand. To complement these enhancements, Marriott expects to certify over 1,000 hotels globally in its "Li Yu" program, designed to provide travelers from China a warm welcome and the comforts of home throughout the world.In August 2017, Marriott International and Alibaba Group formed a joint venture aimed at redefining the travel experience for the hundreds of millions of Chinese consumers traveling domestically and abroad every year. It utilizes industry expertise, local customer insights and technology to empower travel companies to foster an innovative customer experience for Chinese travelers. The global rollout of PPP, an innovative credit-based hotel payment service developed by Fliggy, reaffirms Marriott's commitment to enhancing the travel experience of Chinese consumers. It enables qualified Fliggy users to book hotels without paying a deposit, have a comprehensive wallet-free experience during their stay and enjoy an express check-out service. Room charges and incidental expenses are automatically settled afterwards, providing a seamless, wallet-free payment experience for both customers and hotels.The PPP program was introduced in March 2015 as part of Fliggy's strategy to reshape the hospitality industry through internet-based innovation. More than 100,000 hotels across mainland China have joined the program since its launch. Marriott International is the pioneer in rolling out this innovative experience on a global scale."China is the leading market for mobile payments. Sixty-five percent of Chinese tourists have used mobile payments on their most recent trips overseas,"1 said Peggy Fang Roe, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Asia Pacific, Marriott International and Board Member of the joint venture. "Offering PPP will be a key competitive advantage for Marriott International hotels, connecting our global portfolio of brands with Chinese travelers. Combined with Marriott's exclusive 'Li Yu' program, we are extending the comforts of home to Chinese travelers, from payment methods to a suite of amenities and services tailored for Chinese habits, preferences, and appetites as they travel the world."Marriott's redesigned storefront on Fliggy now features its global inventory of hotels with a localized, mobile-enhanced, user-friendly layout. It includes a search functionality that is more intuitive to Chinese consumers, along with experiences and offers geared to their usual preferences - particularly for leisure - and hotel-level information curated to help them make more informed decisions on where they want to stay. Marriott loyalty members have access to special members-only rates through the storefront, and can also see which hotels have been "Li Yu" certified and which hotels accept PPP.Initiatives to be unveiled in the coming months include travel planning services in Mandarin, VIP member experiences and other exciting innovations as Marriott International continues to elevate the outbound travel experience for Chinese consumers.1 Data from The Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trends: 2017 Survey by Nielsen
Article by Danny Bryer

Tech trends set to dominate hospitality in 2018

Marriott 8 December 2017
Take a look at the past 25 years. Within that relatively short period, mobile devices have, overwhelmingly, been placed in the hands of consumers that empower them. They choose to research and plan their holidays online, pay for them the same way, and curate them via social media platforms. It's almost unthinkable that we used to store up our memories on 24-unit film rolls, hoping that they wouldn't get accidentally exposed, and then we'd have to get them developed before placing them in an album that we'd have to physically show to friends and family. Now, you can say, "hey, mom, look where I am today", from the other side of the globe.That's a simple illustration of consumer adoption of technology, but it mirrors the parallel adoption of tech within the hospitality sector.From facilitating guest experiences with feedback apps on property, to rolling out marketing campaigns based on data-driven insights about guests and then also providing slick payment options, it's all changed.Customer experience managementCustomer, or in our case, visitor experience management has taken over from customer service as a focus. Businesses recognise the need to personalise what they have on offer, since this is what the market expects. However, despite this knowledge of the need that exists, companies are lagging behind when it comes to strategic implementation of initiatives that work towards enhanced visitor experiences.In 2018 we expect to see CEM roles created within hospitality groups with this goal in mind. An entirely new career option that's been created upon demand. The Customer Experience Manager will be tasked with tracking the visitor's experience at all touch points and, where necessary, streamlining processes to improve on this. It's not just a customer-facing role (or for hotel professionals who do that), it's a behind-the-scenes examination of everything that goes into a hotel stay.Smart keys, connectivity, chatbots and appsConnectivity allows for many enhancements to the visitor experience, from smart keys that allow access to rooms from mobile devices to Instant Messaging apps that allow the visitor to communicate with hotel staff. Chatbots can reduce the time human agents have to spend dealing with inquiries by providing basic information via websites, or, if the bots are Artificial Intelligence-driven, perform more complex tasks.AI is key to data-driven business, since it can assist with workflow optimisation, route queries according the best agents to resolve them and refine processes, making it easier for hotels and customers to conduct business.Another application for a chatbot is in training - in a large, perhaps multi-national company where consistency is high on demand, it may not be possible to train thousands of people all at once on a new product, but a chatbot allows teams to receive training right where they are by asking it questions.Security and data protectionWhile on the subject of data, it's clear that hospitality businesses need to seal the places where personal data could leak. There have need numerous stories of data breaches in the news recently - it's no longer an option to secure your business and customer data - it's a must.Let's say your guest's personal information gets leaked. An unscrupulous hacker could call up a contact centre and use that information to answer security questions for the purpose of identity verification. A couple of minutes, and they could access online profiles, change details and passwords, effectively becoming that person.Hospitality companies can look towards more watertight forms of identity verification such as biometric identification. Voice authentication is one such solution that closes many of the security question loopholes, for example. It's fast, simple and secure, making the experience a far smoother, safer one for guests.Will we see Bitcoin and the wider Blockchain trust economy taking a stronger foothold in hospitality? It's highly likely, although, this is largely at the experimental or explorative phase, so we won't see Blockchain-based solutions being rolled out on a grand scale in the near future - but watch this space.It still comes down to trends - what visitors want and how to deliver that - but the options are so much more sophisticated now; we can reach our market in their own homes, on their devices, and speak to them in a language that appeals to them.

Marriott International Signs New Co-Brand Credit Card Agreements with JPMorgan Chase and American Express

Marriott 5 December 2017
"Marriott's co-brand credit cards have been a meaningful contributor to the success of Marriott's loyalty programs and a sign of the extraordinary value of our portfolio of brands," said Arne Sorenson, Marriott International's President and Chief Executive Officer. "We are pleased to bring together the power of JPMorgan Chase and American Express with our global portfolio of brands to continue to provide consumers with choices. We expect our loyalty program members, owners and franchisees, and our shareholders will see significant incremental benefits from these new agreements." Marriott expects to introduce new, co-brand products starting in 2018 with enhanced member benefits - super-premium consumer and small business co-branded products from American Express and mass consumer and premium consumer co-branded products from JPMorgan Chase. Additional details on the future products will be shared in 2018. In the meantime, both companies will retain their existing portfolio of accounts and continue to offer their current products."We are excited to build on our long-term partnership with Marriott and look forward to continuing to serve our mutual customers with the products and experiences they love," said Jennifer Piepszak, CEO of Chase Card Services. "Together, we also plan to invest in new mass and premium consumer products that will bring choice and variety to the marketplace, along with the depth and breadth of Marriott International's portfolio of brands.""The American Express relationship with Marriott dates back more than sixty years and we are pleased to continue an important component of our partnership," said Glenda McNeal, President, Strategic Partnerships at American Express. "We'll continue to provide our Starwood Preferred Guest Card Members with the award-winning benefits, services and experiences they have come to enjoy on their existing product, while building our portfolio within the family of Marriott brands to serve affluent travelers and small businesses."For now, there will be no changes to Marriott's existing co-brand cards for members. Members using the Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa credit cards from JPMorgan Chase, as well as the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards from American Express will continue to earn and redeem points as usual. SPG members in the U.S. can earn two Starpoints for every eligible dollar spent using the Starwood Preferred Guest credit cards by American Express directly at hotels participating in SPG and Marriott Rewards globally. In addition, Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards members in the U.S. can earn five Rewards points for every eligible dollar spent using the JPMorgan Chase Marriott Rewards and The Ritz-Carlton Rewards Visa credit cards on qualifying purchases made at participating global Marriott Rewards and SPG properties.These credit card agreements are the latest example of the significant economies of scale and competitive advantage that are resulting from Marriott's acquisition of Starwood Hotels & Resorts. In late 2018, Marriott expects to launch a single technology platform for Marriott Rewards, which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards, and SPG. This should enable the company to synch the technology-dependent components of each program, further reducing costs. The new technology platform will also take Marriott one step closer to the goal of having a single loyalty program for the company's 100+ million members in the current Rewards and SPG loyalty programs.

Marriott unveils IoT hotel room of the future

Marriott 15 November 2017
The IoT Guestroom Lab - powered by Marriott's Innovation Lab at the company's corporate headquarters - explores concepts that have the potential to elevate the guest experience, create more efficient hotel room design and construction, and contribute to Marriott's global sustainability efforts and goals. As the hospitality industry's "smart" hotel room, the Lab allows multiple responsive IoT systems, devices and applications to communicate with one another to serve guests and optimize hotel operations."We know that our guests expect to personalize almost everything in their lives, and their hotel experience should be no different," said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. "By teaming with best-in-class partners, we are leveraging mobile and voice-enabled technology to give our guests the ability to set up the room to best meets their needs - whether that is creating the ultimate relaxation environment or one that enables productivity for business travelers.""At Samsung, we aspire to make life easier and better for our consumers, whether they're at home or their home away from home," said James Stansberry, Senior Vice President and General Manager of ARTIK IoT, Samsung Electronics. "Partnering with Legrand and Marriott, we can offer users unprecedented levels of control and personalization, thanks to our end-to-end IoT services powered by the ARTIK platform and the SmartThings Cloud. From intuitive lighting to voice-activated room controls, we're delivering customizable, intelligent experiences that make our consumers' lives more convenient, productive and secure."Developing an intuitive system is critical as Marriott seeks to continuously innovate the global guest experience across its 30 brands. The technology inside the IoT Guestroom Lab allows, for instance, a user to ask a virtual assistant for a 6:30 AM wake-up alarm, to start a yoga routine on a full-length mirror, request additional housekeeping services and start the shower at the desired temperature stored in their customer profile - all by voice or app."We're proud to be innovating with industry leading partners to get closer to revolutionizing the guest experience, along with hotel operations and even hotel construction," said Karim Khalifa, Senior Vice President, Global Design, Marriott International. "Together with Samsung and Legrand, we are well on our way to creating the hotel room of the future.""At Legrand, we offer a suite of power, light and data solutions that bring power and connectivity to previously untapped locations. Legrand is partnering with Marriott to improve the guest experience in a cost effective and intuitive manner. This work further supports our Eliot Program in North America, Legrand's global IoT program that encompasses our ambition, drives our product innovation and fosters our partnership in the IoT space," said Ken Freeman, Senior Vice President of Demand Creation, Legrand. "Legrand's product portfolio can elevate a property by turning everyday features into lasting highlights. We are thrilled to collaborate with Marriott and Samsung to conceptualize and deliver on the future traveler's needs."Marriott is working towards a future where hotel owners would have a seamless, transparent and flexible end-to-end solution that requires minimal equipment, while customers would enjoy an integrated experience with access to their own data and information, as well as accessible voice and mobile-optimized controls. Such systems would also benefit hotel operations and improve personalized service by, for instance, allowing staff to provide services at a guest's desired time.Following the three-month-long IoT Guestroom Lab, Marriott, Samsung and Legrand will analyze feedback to continue innovating with IoT technology. Consumers will start to see elements of the technology in hotel rooms within the next five years.

Marriott International's AI-powered Chatbots on Facebook Messenger and Slack, and Aloft's ChatBotlr, Simplify Travel for Guests Throughout Their Journey

Marriott 29 September 2017
BETHESDA, Md. -- Marriott International - the hospitality industry's iconic leader in guest service - is expanding upon the heart of its hospitality, its hundreds of thousands of associates, by creating additional points of engagement for guests, powered by artificial intelligence.Recently, Aloft Hotels, the innovation incubator for savvy global travelers, launched the first ChatBotlr, a new chatbot available via text message that gives guests an additional way to make service requests. Driven by ahead-of-the-curve technology, Aloft's ChatBotlr empowers guests to request basic hotel services right from their own smartphones. Aloft introduced the first generation Botlr, a robotic butler, in 2014 as an inventive pilot program to allow front desk associates to respond more immediately to guest needs, one-on-one. This next evolution of Botlr, the ChatBotlr, is available to all our guests on their phones, anywhere and anytime they have a request. With ChatBotlr, guests may text to request services, information about the hotel, listen to the brand's #AloftLive playlist and connect with the front desk team during their stay, even when the guest is not on-property. By leveraging natural language understanding and machine learning, ChatBotlr gets smarter the more it interacts with guests. Early findings show that 2 out of 3 Aloft guests are interacting or making requests with ChatBotlr and the service has a five-second response time."By embracing emerging messaging technologies, we can expand service to our guests on their terms and through communication channels they increasingly prefer and feel comfortable using," said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. "The delivery of on demand service enables Marriott to simplify travel, remove friction and power up even better service for our guests at more moments throughout their travel journey."Aloft's ChatBotlr joins Marriott's other newly implemented service innovations powered by technology. Marriott Rewards chatbots are available on Facebook Messenger, Slack and soon, We-Chat and Google Assistant, and serve loyalty members before, during and between stays. Marriott Rewards members on Facebook Messenger and Slack can research and book travel at more than 4,700 hotels, link their Marriott Rewards and SPG accounts, plan for their upcoming stay with articles from the digital magazine Marriott Traveler, and chat directly with Customer Engagement Center associates. Of Marriott Reward members using Marriott Rewards' Facebook Messenger this year, 44 percent received stay-related customer service such as changes to their reservation and 53 percent found assistance related to their Rewards account such as how to redeem points for stays. As technology becomes more integrated into our guests' daily lives, chatbots simplify the travel experience enabling guests to ask basic questions, make simple requests, and receive instant responses. They also free our Marriott associates on property from routine tasks, allowing them to deliver elevated, personalized hospitality to our guests.Messaging is growing in popularity with people in the U.S. spending an average of 200 minutes per day in messaging apps according to The Economist and recent reports show messaging apps as the number 1 most frequently used feature on mobile devices. Years ago, Marriott recognized the growing popularity of text messaging when it launched the Mobile Requests feature on the Marriott Mobile app in 2015 enabling guests to chat directly with hotel associates. Since then, 2.5 million requests have been received with more than half coming before guests checked in. Mobile Requests inspired Marriott to expand mobile communications options to guests using the device they always have at hand, their smartphone.Marriott's always-on approach to customer service enables the company to deliver the widest choice of engagement whether that is through messaging, call centers, or face-to-face on property with associates. Leveraging technology, we can deepen personalization, expand choice and connect our associates with our guests in a more meaningful way, as we lead the next generation of the guest experience.

Marriott Hotels announces winners of its 2017 TestBED programme

Marriott 27 September 2017
After being shortlisted from almost 150 applicants across 24 countries, eight start-ups pitched to a panel of judges last month, aiming to shape the future travel and hospitality experience. The panel included Georgie Barrat, presenter of The Gadget Show, in addition to tech industry leaders and senior Marriott figures. The following three start-ups were crowned the winners following a rigorous judging process:MyManuPiloting at: Frankfurt Marriott HotelA UK start-up that developed 'Click' - wireless earbuds that offer live voice translation to 37 languages. For Marriott Hotels 'Click' can offer the ability to communicate with guests in their native language and make their interaction with Marriott associates feel more seamless and natural. The technology can also be used for meetings and events held within Marriott Hotels.mymanu.comHiJiffyPiloting at: London Marriott Hotel Regents ParkA Portugal based start-up that developed an AI powered Chatbot designed for the hospitality sector. Using Chabot's Marriott Hotels can offer its guests with a variety of services using Facebook Messenger at any place and time and in an effective and efficient way.www.hijiffy.comOptishowerPiloting at: Amsterdam Marriott HotelA Portugal-based start-up that has developed smart meters to measure water and electricity consumption and the ability to provide associates and guests with analysis of usage. Marriott Hotels could offer its guests the ability to track their own consumption and be rewarded for sustainable energy use during their stay.www.optishower.comMarriott TestBED is now in its second year following its debut in 2016. The hugely popular accelerator programme attracts start-ups that aim to enhance the entire hotel guest experience. For more information, visit www.marriotttestbed.com.

Accenture Interactive, Marriott International and 1776 Launch the Travel Experience Incubator

Marriott 18 July 2017
Accenture Interactive, Marriott International, and 1776 , a leading global incubator and network for startups, today announced the launch of the Travel Experience Incubator, a new program designed to discover and foster startups working on innovative technologies and solutions to improve the travel experience. The incubator will bring together the hospitality industry expertise of one of the world's most innovative companies, Marriott International, and its official Travel Experience Incubator partner, Accenture Interactive, along with participating startups, to co-create unique and inventive new experiences for travelers.Startups are invited to immediately apply to The Travel Experience Incubator Challenge. Selected startups will be invited to participate in The Travel Experience Incubator, a three-month, travel industry focused program with opportunities for paid piloting and investment at the program's conclusion. The incubator will kick off in September 2017 at 1776's Crystal City Campus in Arlington, Virginia.The selected participants will receive a dedicated curriculum, drawing on the hospitality expertise of Marriott leadership, Accenture experts and the 1776 global mentor network. Through the program, startups will develop, validate, and test travel solutions using data and technology, with the goal to increase customer connectedness and enhance travel experiences.Marriott will draw on its deep experience in the hospitality business, supporting the incubator with its data-rich knowledge of customers as well as mentors from its executive team to coach the startups. Accenture will provide resources focused on human-centered design and digital technologies, as well as proprietary tools to help accelerate and scale real-time solutions. Startups will also will have access to Accenture's deep industry expertise in hospitality to lend additional mentorship and insight throughout the program. Accenture has proven experience working with the startup community through Accenture Ventures, which partners with and invests in growth-stage companies that create innovative enterprise technologies using an open innovation approach."Now, more than ever, people want their travel to be tailored, hyper-personalized and connected," said Julie Sweet, Accenture's Chief Executive Officer - North America. "As the official Travel Experience Incubator partner with Marriott, we are uniquely positioned to collaborate and scale innovation across the startup community to create new experiences for travelers.""We see The Travel Experience Incubator as a terrific opportunity to fuel promising startups focused on game-changing innovation for the lodging industry. We look forward to collaborating with these independent visionaries to reveal new business opportunities and enhanced guest experiences," said Stephanie Linnartz, Global Chief Commercial Officer, Marriott International. "Continuously innovating the guest experience from design to technology is a centerpiece of Marriott's culture and competitive advantage.""We've seen the success that is possible when startups and corporations work together to find better technological solutions, and the Travel Experience Incubator is an exciting opportunity to accomplish that in an established and global industry," said Evan Burfield, co-founder and CEO at 1776. "Large, forward-thinking companies, like Accenture and Marriott, are engaging successfully with startups, looking at startups as discovery arms and co-collaborators for innovation."More information about the Travel Experience Incubator Challenge, including the related application, is available on the 1776 website, click here.About Accenture InteractiveAccenture Interactive, part of Accenture Digital, helps the world's leading brands transform their customer experiences across the entire customer journey. Through our connected offerings in design, marketing, content and commerce, we create new ways to win in today's experience-led economy. Accenture Interactive was ranked the world's largest digital agency in the latest Ad Age Agency Report. To learn more follow us @accentureACTIVE and visit www.accentureinteractive.com.About AccentureAccenture (NYSE: ACN) is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions - underpinned by the world's largest delivery network - Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With approximately 411,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.About 17761776 is a public benefit corporation that empowers startup ecosystems around the world to solve complex challenges. To accomplish this, the company leverages its digital startup network, UNION; physical campuses in Washington, D.C., New York City, San Francisco and Dubai; a global startup pitch competition, Challenge Cup; and deep staff expertise in regulatory issues. 1776 accelerates connections and outcomes among startups, corporations, and public institutions. For more information, please visit www.1776.vc and follow @1776 on Twitterand @1776vc on Instagram.
Article by Danny Bryer

Tech takes on travel

Marriott 5 July 2017
The last thing you're thinking about when putting your feet up on holiday is that you may be enjoying a break as a result of something as disparate to travel as data analytics, but, increasingly, that's the case. Behind the scenes, in tourism, there's a new wave of business strategy driven by technology processes, all generated to create a better experience for the visitor. At the forefront of this wave are teams of young IT geniuses, making the most out of the growth spurt in this dynamic sector.The technology infiltration is not a trend, it's here to stay. An outmoded way of thinking about the tourism sector is that it's spearheaded by front-of-house hospitality profes sionals, visitor-facing tour guides and operators and shuttle drivers with a mind map of their local areas. While those roles are central to the visitor experience, they don't tell the whole story.As the market develops it is becoming dominated by the younger segment of the population, aspirational, mobile-savvy travellers who research, plan and record their experiences from their devices. Up to 45 percent of all travellers are using their devices to do this, and this is what business operators are understanding. They have to stay ahead of their markets and provide the means for those travellers to travel according to their preferences. To remain successful in a competitive market, companies must be preemptive in their strategies.Larger tourism organisations such as airlines and hotel groups are harnessing the power of big data, information generated by and about their customers. Online transactions can provide a wealth of detail about your customer, fr om cookies generated by their web searching habits to the information they provide on booking and feedback forms. This data allows for targeted marketing strategies that are intimate and personalised. You can target customers based on their preferences - how, when and where they are likely to travel, based on their habits. The more they interact with you, and you with them, the more information is produced; multiply that by thousands, and you can see how useful the cloud becomes for storing and accessing all of this data. Then there are apps - for everything from research to booking and exploring in destination. Apps aid visitors by making their process of organising what they want to do much more efficient - the demand for easy-to-navigate apps to facilitate travel is huge. As are user-friendly websites that get results fast.The point is, IT professionals, designers, data analysts, advertising and marketing specialists, social media analysts and co mmunity managers are all becoming more central to the tourism sector, these careers dominated by young, creative people who understand their market. It's often relatively easy to develop the skills necessary for those careers by doing free courses online, so they are accessible to a new workforce who may not have the resources to study degrees. Their skills are bankable, however, and, within the right context, they can go on to lead teams and access senior positions in an economic climate that would see them battle to find employment.We're acutely aware that tourism is enjoying a period of growth in the Western Cape, despite many challenges. There's large-scale investment in hotel and conferencing properties, so the long-term prospects are looking good. Across the continent, even, international investment is following suit, and, as African nations join the race to get their countries connected, the pace is picking up. This rapid digitalisation presents rich o pportunities for young people seeking to maximise on the potential available by building businesses around strategies that are less about guesswork but around real-time data. We can study trends that show where areas of growth are and develop our strategies to meet needs even before our market is aware that those needs exist.Of course, we're not saying that the wealth of accumulated knowledge of older tourism professionals isn't of value - we need the brilliance of seasoned professionals more than ever before, to channel this hunger for technology and the marketing power it offers, we need leaders with vision who can motivate and direct the creative energy into strategies that benefit travellers.Those who will succeed are the forever-young who can relate to people of all ages, for those are our visitors, travel is an experience that rejuvenates and refreshes, always bringing new perspectives, so the people who work in tourism must have the desire to constantly evolve and maintain a fresh approach to life.It's not certain where the industry will be in ten or twenty years' time: after all, at the rate technology is developing, it would take a visionary like Bill Gates to predict how travel trends will change, but, for young people in South Africa, there's an opportunity that will endure, both for those that are in love with all of the possibilities technology offers and for those brave enough to step out as entrepreneurs.Next time you're on holiday, think of all the processes that got you there, from reading friend's posts on social media to booking online. Imagine the specialists working behind the scenes to make that happen. One doesn't always consider all the people whose contribution goes into you having a good time, but, if you do, you'll begin to see why there are so many career opportunities in tourism.

Marriott Hotels rallies innovative travel startups to help shape the future of travel

Marriott 15 June 2017
Marriott Hotels, the flagship hotel brand of Marriott International, is searching for the most innovative tech start-ups in to join the 2017 intake of its hugely popular European accelerator programme TestBED and help shape the future travel and hospitality experience. Now in its second year, the programme gives young start-ups the chance to grow through expert guidance and the opportunity to pilot their product within the Marriott Hotels portfolio in Europe.This year, Marriott Hotels, is looking for start-ups in the following areas to help innovate and inspire creative thinking around the entire guest experience:The in-room experienceTransforming the overall guest experience, in and out of the hotelHelping guests find headspace to flourish and stay inspiredAccording to industry insights, now is the time to invest in the future of travel technology. 2016 saw record investment in travel tech (CB Insights) as consumers increasingly look to digital solutions to enhance their experiences. 2016 also saw the launch of Marriott Hotels' first 'live beta' hotel in North Carolina - an incubator and testing ground to trial new concepts and technologies and gain real-time customer feedback. As a company committed to innovation, TestBED is a natural progression and enables Marriott Hotels to have a greater say in the future of travel.Interested start-ups can submit their ideas via MarriottTestBED.com if they are a seed or early stage start-up with developed products or services ready to go to market. The deadline for entries is Friday 7th July 2017 and entrants should be willing to pilot the product within Europe. From here, entrants will be whittled down to a shortlist of eight start-ups invited to pitch to a panel of industry experts, including Georgie Barrat, presenter of The Gadget Show, and senior Marriott figures on 22nd and 23rd August 2017.The three most promising companies will then embark on a ten-week programme in which they will pilot their product or service in a Marriott Hotel in Europe. They will also benefit from a tailored mentoring and training programme provided by industry leaders."Marriott Hotels aims to be at the forefront of innovation and TestBED provides us with the ideal testing ground to find, nurture and test cutting-edge products that have the power to transform the travel and hotel experience," said John Licence, Vice President Premium & Select Brands Europe at Marriott International."TestBED is a powerful platform and proposition that gives start-ups the invaluable opportunity to tap into our operational expertise and test their products in a live hotel environment while exposing us to the creativity and disruptive thinking that lies in the start-up community."Charles Cadbury, CEO of Dazzle, an in-room voice activated personal assistant and one of two winning innovations of TestBED 2016, commented: "We would not be where we are today without TestBED, fact. The speed at which we gained market insight and user feedback would have been very hard and time consuming to achieve had we not had the support of Marriott Hotels. Furthermore, being able to quote the interest Marriott took in Dazzle has validated Dazzle, given us credability and opened many, many doors."Marriott Hotels has spent the last few years upgrading and evolving its product and experiences to lead the future of travel. In doing so, Marriott Hotels has repeatedly engaged the creative community and developed programmes that enable entrepreneurial talent to flourish within its global operations. Marriott TestBED is the latest innovative programme to engage with this community, following CANVAS in 2015, an incubator project that challenged Marriott employees or local entrepreneurs to fill unused space in Marriott city-centre hotels.http://www.marriotttestbed.com/

Leading Tech Media Recognize Marriott International's Innovative "Win the Stay" Strategy With the Digital 50 Award

Marriott 12 April 2017
Bethesda, Md. -- Marriott International received the coveted Digital 50 Award from IDG Enterprise--the leading enterprise technology media company composed of CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, ITworld and Network World. The Digital EDGE 50 award honored Marriott's "Win the Stay" digital strategy, which is enabling the company to connect with next gen travelers on digital and mobile platforms throughout their travel journey."This award is recognition of the tremendous work by our teams to better serve the needs of millions of travelers worldwide," said George Corbin, Senior Vice President of Digital, Marriott International. "Mobile is our fastest-growing customer channel and we leverage that growth to transform the guest experience, making service at critical travel moments easier, more personalized, and more relevant to our guests at every step in their journey."Today, Marriott offers guests a portfolio of mobile guest services through its dynamic app that features customized content for Marriott Rewards members when they are planning travel, getting ready to travel, the hotel stay and between stays. The company led the industry in rolling out mobile check-in, room ready alerts and mobile checkout three years ago. One year later, Marriott added Mobile Requests enabling guests to personalize their travel before, during and after their stays across more than 4,000 hotels worldwide. With Mobile Requests, guests can either choose from a drop-down menu of the most requested services or chat directly with hotel staff for special requests.Other mobile features enable guests to use their smartphone as their room key and access their Netflix, Hulu, YouTube accounts and more on guest room televisions at select hotels. Coming soon, Marriott will add more personalized and informative content based on data and driven by beacons now installed at over 500 hotels. For example, members who typically workout while they travel would receive push notifications about the location, hours and services of the hotel fitness facility."The complexity and scale of the initiatives in the Digital Edge 50 show how quickly organizations are progressing to the next phase of digital transformation," said Anne McCrory, Digital Edge program chair and Group VP, Customer Experience and Operations, IDG Enterprise Events. "They are taking advantage of new capabilities, such as AI and deep machine learning, to enhance their mobile and analytics practices worldwide. They are finding dramatic results from the cloud, and serving customers in faster and more elegant ways. Their adoption of agile, extreme programming and completely reworked business processes show how even the most traditional businesses can go big with digital with the right vision and leadership."The Digital Edge 50 Award is a recognized honor of digital innovation. Through digital technologies such as mobile, analytics, artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), virtual reality/augmented reality and cloud, award winners see business results that indicate a true "digital edge." Selected by a panel of industry experts and business and technology executives, winning applications are driving greater customer engagement, higher sales conversions and new products, as well as revenue and profit growth. Entries were judged by a panel of executive peers, including past winners, who evaluated projects on complexity, scale, business outcomes and innovation. Award recipients were honored at IDG's AGENDA 17 Conference on March 23, 2017.About Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) is based in Bethesda, Maryland, USA, with more than 6,000 properties in 30 leading hotel brands spanning 122 countries and territories. Marriott operates and franchises hotels and licenses vacation ownership resorts. The company also operates award-winning loyalty programs: Marriott Rewards(r), which includes The Ritz-Carlton Rewards(r), and Starwood Preferred Guest(r). For more information, please visit our website at www.marriott.com, and for the latest company news, visit www.marriottnewscenter.com. Connect with us on Facebook and @MarriottIntl on Twitter and Instagram.About Digital Edge 50 AwardThe Digital Edge 50 Award is a recognized honor of digital innovation. Through digital technologies such as mobile, analytics, AI, the Internet of Things and cloud, award winners see business results that indicate a true "digital edge." Selected by a panel of industry experts and business and technology executives, winning applications are driving greater customer engagement, higher sales conversions and new products, as well as revenue and profit growth.About CIOCIO is the premier content and community resource for information technology executives and leaders. The CIO portfolio -- CIO.com, CIO Forum on LinkedIn, events, strategic marketing services and research -- provides business technology leaders with analysis, insight and an understanding of IT's role in achieving business goals. CIO is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of IDG. Company information is available at http://www.idgenterprise.com/. Follow CIO events on Twitter: @CIOevents #Agenda17About ComputerworldComputerworld is the leading IT media brand helping senior IT, business decision-makers and key influencers navigate change with effective business strategy. Computerworld enables the IT value chain with unique editorial coverage from setting strategies to deriving value from core to edge technologies. IT solution providers can engage Computerworld's senior IT audience through www.computerworld.com, focused events, strategic marketing services and research. Computerworld is published by IDG Enterprise, a subsidiary of IDG. Company information is available at www.idgenterprise.com.Follow Computerworld events on Twitter: @CWevents #Agenda17

First robot butler in a New York state hotel has unique focus on bringing wellness amenities to guests of The Westin Buffalo

Marriott 31 March 2017
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Delaware North today formally introduced the Relay robot butler that is serving guests at The Westin Buffalo, the global hospitality and food service provider's new 116-room luxury lifestyle hotel at its headquarters building in downtown Buffalo, N.Y.Designed and built by Savioke, the Relay robot, which became operational at The Westin Buffalo in December, a few months after it opened, is the first to serve as a butler in a hotel in New York state, including New York City.It's also the first robot butler with a unique focus on bringing guests various wellness items to their rooms - amenities offered through the distinctive wellness programs for which the Westin brand is known.The robot delivers everything from delicious and nutritious SuperFoodsRxtm juices and other menu items from the hotel's Jake's Cafe, to running shoes as part of Westin's Gear Lending with New Balance(r) program. With the running shoes and other items, even guests who arrive without their own gear can take advantage of the state-of-the-art WestinWORKOUT(r) fitness studio at The Westin Buffalo or the RunWESTINtm program featuring jogging routes through Buffalo's distinctive neighborhoods, new waterfront and architectural treasures."Our guests have really gotten a kick out of the Relay robot and how it's programmed to ride the elevator to their room and call them to receive the items from its storage compartment," said Tom Long, general manager of The Westin Buffalo for Delaware North. "It's been successful thanks to Savioke working with Delaware North's information technology department and our front desk staff.""Delaware North places a high priority on innovation and technology, so we're proud to be on the forefront of this cutting-edge service model," said Bernard Gay, Delaware North's chief information officer. "We've integrated the robot technology to work hand-in-hand with the associates at the hotel to create a seamless experience for our guests."Relay is the first fully-autonomous delivery robot that works alongside people in busy environments such as logistics, hotels, office buildings, and high-rise apartments. Able to operate elevators, Relay is already deployed in dozens of properties where people live, work, and play. Using advanced technology to navigate in dynamic environments, around people and objects, Relay delivers items quickly, safely, and reliably - even in the most crowded locations. Since initial commercial deployment in 2014, Relay robots have made over 100,000 autonomous deliveries."We're thrilled to work with The Westin Buffalo to deploy a Relay robot at this new upscale hotel," said Savioke CEO Steve Cousins. "We're especially pleased Relay will play an important role in The Westin Buffalo's unique focus on delivering wellness items to guests."To coincide with its introduction, The Westin Buffalo has launched a social media campaign to "name" its Relay robot. The public is invited to vote via the hotel's Facebook or Twitter pages for one of four locally-inspired name finalists. As part of its new name, the robot will be described as a "Wellbot," reinforcing its commitment to serving guests of The Westin Buffalo with the wellness amenities and programs for which the Westin brand is known.

JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts And DJI Partner To Launch Drone Experience Program

Marriott 7 November 2016
Hong Kong, November 7, 2016 - JW Marriott Hotel & Resorts and DJI, the world's leading drone-maker, today announced a special partnership that will launch the luxury hotel brand's first Drone Experience Program. The program will provide guests with the opportunity to experiment with DJI's innovative drone technology. Hotel guests will view the beauty of JW Marriott's properties through a new perspective, and will be able to capture and share these experiences with friends and family.As the first property to debut the Drone Experience Program, JW Marriott Zhejiang Anji will launch the initiative on November 12, 2016. DJI representatives will host on-site experience sessions for hotel guests to demonstrate how to safely operate a drone and provide essential aerial photography tips. Guests will be invited to a demonstration of the latest aerial platform such as the popular DJI Phantom 4. This 30-minute experiential program will be held every Saturday from 10am - 4pm, and guest can reserve their spot in advance with the hotel concierge.The Drone Experience Program will enable guests to capture an aerial overview of the hotel and destination by using a DJI drone with the help of a trained UAV pilot. Through the DJI Go app, they can easily share these moments on social media via live-stream to Facebook or YouTube. With its proximity to the legendary Anji Bamboo Forest, one of the most renowned natural wonders in China, JW Marriott Zhejiang Anji was selected as an ideal pilot hotel for the Drone Experience Program."Delivering an exceptional guest experience is at the heart of what we do at JW Marriott, and this exciting partnership with DJI allows us to continue transforming the way our guests capture their travel experiences," says Mike Fulkerson, Vice President of Brand Marketing, Asia Pacific, Marriott International. "Anji is a fantastic destination to pilot this cutting-edge technology and the program will help guests both learn something new and share their experiences with friends and family.""We are delighted to be partnering with JW Marriott to enrich the guest experience. DJI's aerial platforms and camera technology will allow travelers creative means of capturing and sharing their travel experience with the rest of the world. The combined geographic footprints of DJI and the JW Marriott brand will enable us to debut the program in some of the world's most desirable destinations," said Eli Morgan Harris, DJI's business development manager.

Marriott Launches new distribution and booking solution

Marriott 18 October 2016
Marriott International, Inc. (NASDAQ: MAR) has unveiled a new distribution and booking solution,www.MarriottWholesalers.com, that provides thousands of authorized wholesalers, destination marketing companies, and tour operators access to real-time rates and inventory for more than 4,200 Marriott properties around the world. Marriott has partnered with Sabre Hospitality Solutions to develop and launch this new platform.The solution is part of Marriott's strategy to transform the wholesale and leisure segment with technology and shift to dynamic rates and automated reservations, replacing antiquated processes for contracting, accessing inventory and booking hotel rooms. Approved wholesalers can now search real-time hotel net rates and inventory globally to create tailor-made packages for their customers. All hotel bookings are confirmed instantly online."Marriott works with more than 3,000 wholesalers and we have been eager to modernize our process for collaborating with the wholesale and leisure segment. MarriottWholesalers.com provides our partners with dynamic access to a broader selection of hotel products at the best prices, and allows them to focus on serving leisure travelers," says Drew Pinto, Senior Vice President, Distribution, Marriott International. "Selecting Sabre as our technology provider brought the speed to market, experience, and capability that we needed to bring this solution to fruition."The solution provides significant value to smaller wholesalers by removing the need for them to make a technology investment to gain direct, dynamic access to rates and inventory. The solution will make it more efficient than ever to distribute Marriott's inventory to the broader leisure package segment.Wholesalers can establish or renew access in seven languages at MarriottWholesalers.com and once authenticated, they immediately have access to the booking engine.The STARnet (www.starwoodnet.com) program supporting wholesaler activation for Starwood hotels will continue to operate in tandem.

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