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  • Next Event

    HITEC EUROPE 2019

    Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference

    April 10–11, 2019
    Palau de Congressos
    Palma, Mallorca - Spain

  • Upcoming Event

    HITEC MINNEAPOLIS

    Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference

    Minneapolis Convention Center

    June 17-20, 2019

  • Upcoming Event

    HITEC DUBAI

    Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference

    November 12 - 13, 2019
    Festival Arena
    Dubai, UAE

Article by Andrew Sanders

HEDNA 2019 Wrap-up: Inspirational Insights

DataArt 8 February 2019
The HEDNA 2019 agenda illustrated the incredible potential for a meeting of the top minds in the hospitality industry, and the conference certainly didn't disappoint.This year's HEDNA gathering exceeded even my loftiest expectations, with 355 people marking the highest attendance to date. It was an inspirational meeting with the leading thinkers in our field providing plenty of insights to spark in-depth discussions about the core challenges facing today's hospitality sector and the future direction of our industry.The attendees had the privilege of listening to many fascinating, high-level speakers, including:Sam Shank: Founder and CEO of Hotel TonightTodd Dunlap: Managing Director at Booking.comAdam Harris: CEO and Co-founder of CloudbedsJordan Hollander: Co-founder of HotelTechReportCammy Houser: Hotels Program Lead at AirbnbAbhijit Pal: Head of Research at ExpediaSteven Van Belleghem: Co-founder of NexxworksJason Dorsey: Co-founder and President of The Center for Generational KineticsArtificial Intelligence and Machine Learning AI and ML were major topics of discussion throughout the conference, with a focus on the great importance of seamlessly integrating artificial intelligence into the core ingredients required to provide exemplary customer service.The future of our industry will include a wide range of technologies driven by AI and ML, including facial recognition (smart glasses), caching (using ML to determine which data is most valuable to cache at specific times), and room mapping (harmonizing the multitude of systems describing a room type differently).At the same time, as the use of these advanced technologies increases, the industry faces the significant challenges involved in its integration. The growth of AI and ML is particularly difficult to manage due to the hospitality sector's frequent use of older technology with siloed data that cannot easily talk to the latest systems. I hope to see our industry take a big leap over the coming year to let go of antiquated ways of managing data to develop comprehensive solutions capable of full integration with every technological arm required to run today's software as well as tomorrow's innovations.Major advancements in the value of algorithms are already changing the manner in which buying and decision making occurs, with increasingly accurate predictions of the ancillary services and products that a consumer will be interested in based on a purchase.Shifting Consumer Preferences Millennials prefer texting to all other forms of communication, with other generation segments rapidly joining this shift. Although luxury hotels remain focused on "high touch," their customers desire this style of communication less-and-less. This fundamental change in consumer preferences is expected to result in the growing usage of chatbots, webchat widgets, and messaging, as an increasing percentage of people embrace this evolution.Virtually everyone has a mobile device these days, which is leading the industry toward further deployments of systems that resemble the simplicity of the very things that people are already familiar with, such as voice and other IoT solutions frequently used in homes.Industry Challenges Latency continues to be one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of deploying advanced technology solutions. In the dynamic world of hospitality, data sharing must be immediate for technology to be effective. When a hotel is connected to Expedia or other OTAs, a delay of even just a few seconds can cause havoc, with the potential of double bookings and other unacceptable complications. Technology experts in our industry are working diligently to solve this significant challenge to allow the deployment of the best solutions without any latency of connectivity.On the disruption front, Airbnb's star continues to rise as consumer expectations and preferences shift, with the travel "experience" coming to the forefront of the market landscape.Unfortunately, many experts believe that an economic downturn is on the horizon. Although it's too early to know when this situation will impact the hospitality sector, some believe we'll see this slip beginning as soon as the end of this year.Overall, HEDNA 2019 was a wonderful opportunity to discuss the core principles of our evolving industry with the leading minds. As the integration of technology grows exponentially throughout the hospitality sector, the execution of innovative solutions is improving the landscape of our industry in monumental ways.Please share your thoughts about HEDNA 2019 with me on LinkedIn.
Article by Andrew Sanders

HEDNA Global Distribution Conference: The Top Must-See Sessions For 2019

DataArt 25 January 2019
One look at the 2019 HEDNA agenda makes it clear that we're about to embark on an exhilarating and illuminating time in Los Angeles. At the same time, there's so much going on that it's difficult to do everything. Therefore, I decided to offer my picks for the top must-see sessions at this year's conference.Keynote: Cracking the Gen Z Consumer Code with Jason Dorsey(Day 3: 9:10am-10:00am)The post-millennial Gen Z consumers are sometimes difficult to wrap our heads around, as this generation's native technology results in a very different style of shopping and demands from a usability perspective. From the manner in which Gen Z communicates to their preferred payment options, researcher and keynote speaker Jason Dorsey will uncover the latest information about this generation's expectations to help hotel operators in their quest to gain trust and loyalty from this critical demographic.I have seen Jason speak before and chatted with him in detail: this is not to be missed!HEDNA U 202: Engaging with the Guest: Management and Measurement(Day 1 during 1:45pm-3:15pm session)andHEDNA U 203: Engaging with the Guest: The Booking Process(Day 1 during 11:15am-12:45pm session)This year's Engaging with the Guest series promises to deliver valuable insights into one of the key ingredients to success in the world of hospitality, as the title implies. The broad nature of effective guest engagement runs across these ongoing sessions throughout the conference, with each one providing a specific focus within this complex area. Management and Measurement will feature discussions about the essential skills involved in optimizing content to third parties while analyzing a range of advertising models and looking at various methods for accurately uncovering ROI as it relates to expenditures. The Booking Process session aims to inspire in-depth discussions around not only the booking decision but also the processing of information and connectivity to CRS/PMS functions. The session will include additional analysis and conversations about marketing, as well as looking at what's most important in a mobile app.HEDNA U 207: Direct Booking(Day 1 during 1:45pm-3:15pm session)Skift's Senior Hospitality Editor, Deanna Ting, captures the core of direct booking in the following quote: "Whether you choose to view it as a war or not, it's fairly unanimous that nearly every hotelier wishes he or she would have more direct bookings versus bookings made through an online travel agency." While this excellent statement appears indisputable, how can hotel operators increase direct bookings of their rooms? The Direct Booking session at HEDNA should help to sort out this concept by opening up discussions about how the direct booking channel operates within the overall distribution framework.HEDNA U 205: Channel Management(Day 1 during 11:15am-12:45pm session)The importance of efficient channel management cannot be overstated. The sheer number of online distribution options can be overwhelming at times, while a hotel operator's decisions result in a monumental difference in ROI and global reach. HEDNA's Channel Management session will attempt to tackle this difficult realm to look at the multitude of options available to today's hoteliers while analyzing the various associated costs to unveil comprehensive assessment possibilities to implement.Well, there you have it. While these are my top picks at HEDNA, there are a vast number of fascinating sessions to attend at this year's conference. I'm greatly looking forward to networking, learning, and discussing the latest developments and future direction of our industry with the leading thinkers in hospitality. Hope to see you in Los Angeles!Please share your thoughts about must-see sessions for HEDNA 2019 with me on LinkedIn.About DataArt: DataArt is a global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports unique software solutions, helping clients take their businesses forward. Recognized for their deep domain expertise and superior technical talent, DataArt teams create new products and modernize complex legacy systems that affect technology transformation in select industries.DataArt has earned the trust of some of the world's leading brands and most discerning clients, including Nasdaq, S&P, Travelport, Ocado, artnet, Betfair, and Apple Leisure Group among others. Organized as a global network of technology services firms, DataArt brings together expertise of over 2,500 professionals in 20 locations in the US, Europe, and Latin America.www.dataart.com
Article by Greg Abbott

Will Marriott data breach herald the death of personalization?

DataArt 21 December 2018
This analysis could be titled in a number of ways, each with a lean towards what was disclosed by Marriott last week when it emerged some 500 million guest accounts had been hacked.Because of the size of the breach and the underlying issues that may have caused it, many may point to the hotel sector's drive towards personalization and trigger a major rethink.Alternatively, stopping the next Marriott-like data breach may simply be a question of implementing many of protocols and strategies outlined below.Or, perhaps, it's more of a rallying cry for stronger legislation - at least in the U.S. - which will ensure that brands across the travel spectrum take security (more) seriously.But first some background...I recently attended The Phocuswright Conference, where some of travel tech's mightiest flock to debate industry trends. Apart from a few companies that are leveraging machine learning to battle the "black hat" hackers, security was absent from the agenda.It was not on a single marquis, nor was it the subject of a hot debate or an executive interview. Let's face it, as far as tagline topics go... "security" may be one of the least exciting topics at a conference covering the market's leading innovation.In short: despite the growing number and scale of security breaches, hospitality companies are still slow to invest in security.But why?!A number of factors may be at play.First of all, there is no upside to security. It doesn't drive new revenue or customer acquisition, making the "cost" of increased security measures difficult to justify (until now, anyway).Furthermore, hotels' complex, distributed IT systems (internet booking engines, distribution systems, customer relationship management and hotel local systems) call for sophisticated, multi-dimensional, and expensive security measures.Below are some ways that hospitality companies can improve their security and avoid data breaches. Personally identifiable information (PII) has become the new target for attackers, and organizations are still making too little effort to protect it.PII is often duplicated across multiple systems, un-encrypted, and kept longer than needed and can be easily exported in bulk.A sensible approach for handling PII is data "pseudonymization" whereby personal information is transferred to a separate database with adequate security controls (encryption, access control, audit, etc.) and each person is assigned a unique ID.All other systems operate with unique IDs instead of actual PII, which can be retrieved via a separate process. Any PII that is not required for immediate business needs should be deleted or archived.Most organizations focus on their perimeter security at the expense of breach detection and response within the internal network.They simply ignore the fact that attackers need only find a single flaw in a vast landscape, while defenders need to cover the entire attack surface. Even if they do so, there is a range of "unfair" attack methods, including social engineering, zero-day flaws, and insider attacks, that are not possible to cover by perimeter defense.Hotels need subscribe to regular audits and penetration testing of their infrastructure, both internal and external.Red pill, not the blue pillA recent trend among advanced organizations is to employ "red teams," which are independent groups that take the adversarial point of view and challenge the effectiveness of a security program."Red teams" use various techniques, including social engineering, phishing, or posing as a company employee, to penetrate the internal network. During such simulated attacks, companies get a realistic view of their defense capabilities.Traditional perimeter defenses such as firewalls, IDS/IPS, patching, anti-virus, etc, are still required, but IT security teams need to go further, assuming that the perimeter is compromised and taking a proactive approach to detecting malicious activity.Here are some essential controls that are often overlooked but can massively improve security:Enable outbound traffic filtering where possible, as it allows detection of attackers when they attempt to copy the stolen information to their servers.Deploy group policies on non-IT staff computers that detect suspicious activity such as running PowerShell, opening a reverse-shell, making network attacks, etc.Run regular social engineering simulation exercises to train the staff to react appropriately.Update password policies that check new passwords against dictionary words or common patterns that attackers use during brute-force attacks (in most attacks, after the perimeter is bypassed, attackers access accounts with weak passwords).Enforce MFA for privileged accounts and sensitive areas.Collect audit logs from various sources and ship them to a central secure server with separate access control.Finally, I submit that it is time for the U.S. - home to some of the largest and most advanced technology companies in the world - to introduce legislative data security measures and force the travel industry to take data protection seriously.The evolving nature of cyber threats calls for a continuous legislative effort as well as for collaboration with other governments, industries, and academia.At the time when personalization is a critical driver of innovation and progress, it is imperative that data security takes center stage.This article was first published on phocuswire.com
Article by Andrew Sanders

Reap the Rewards of New Hotel Technology - Avoid the Pitfalls

DataArt 28 March 2018
Most people won't argue that technology innovation can be a very good thing. It can help hoteliers streamline their operations, help engage with their guests more effectively and in certain cases, drive ancillary revenues. The challenge that the hotel industry faces in dealing with this level of innovation is the struggle to keep up with guest demands while still ensuring that they are making solid technology decisions for their business and their guests. This can be an incredibly difficult juggling act to perform. Just because there is a new technology in the market, it is no reason for you to adopt it. It is vital that your organization's new technology integration strategy must be closely lined up with its strategic objectives and goals. Though technology innovation can be an enabler, it must be implemented effectively to maximize the impact. For example, a hotel can't implement a guest messaging platform that can't connect to an incident management platform or a food ordering system that doesn't connect to the point of sale. Though this should seem straightforward, at times, it may be anything but.Interoperability and integration will be our industry's biggest challenge as innovation takes hold. Hotel properties, on average, have 20+ systems in place to help run operations efficiently, receive reservations, take orders, plan for meetings, etc. Many of the systems at the forefront of the hotel technology movement have already been integrated. However, with the speed of emerging technologies in play now, integration can, and will be, a critical challenge due to development bottlenecks, one-off interfaces, and costs. Companies at the center of these integrations often have a backlog of interface requests that impact any roll-outs of new technology initiatives, and some of the interface schemes need to be updated. Also, in most cases, each company in the integration chain will charge a fee for the interface development.Don't get me wrong, there is time for everything, and everything will have its time. One of the key aspects that helps hoteliers remain at the forefront is its vision and capability of adopting new technologies. The hotels that place the right bets now will probably be the industry leaders in the next ten to 15 years if they match their greater investment in technology with a company-wide commitment to change. However, much will depend on how the new technology integrates into the guests' world as well as the hotel's technological infrastructure. This is an exciting time for our industry as we begin to embrace chatbots, artificial intelligence, robots, augmented reality and more. However, hotels need to know what tech is worth adopting, and what isn't as well as the best way to integrate new technologies into their current operations.Please share your thoughts about hotel and travel technology with me on LinkedIn.
Article by Andrew Sanders

Frictionless Commerce in Travel and Hospitality - Can It Be Achieved?

DataArt 22 March 2018
We are now able to book our air, hotel and rental car all via a mobile device. We can then use this same device to check-in at airports, hotels, and car rental sites. Many of us even assume that our smartphones should be used to open our hotel room door. All of these conveniences would have been impossible on such a scale five years ago. Though some were individually achievable from a technology standpoint - all of it combined was a reality still waiting in the wings of the future.There are still some essential elements lagging in the modernized travel ecosystem. The tours and activities space is one that remains cluttered with paper transactions instead of mobile or digital experiences. The good news is that there are many exciting advancements on the cusp of disrupting both air travel and hotel stays over the next few years.Frictionless commerce, on the other hand, has still proven elusive for the travel industry. All of the back-end processes to ensure that payment is seamless between the travelers, intermediaries, and suppliers is still disjointed.The hotel industry has been especially challenged when it comes to implementing an effective commerce experience that serves both the guests and the hotel. This was a hot topic at the HEDNA Conference in Austin that I attended last month. Hotel Electronic Distribution Networking Association (HEDNA) developed a whitepaper via their Payment Working Group that tries to tackle this issue head-on. I would highly suggest that you download the whitepaper so here's the LINK.This comes directly from their whitepaper:While most hotels have a centralized room reservation system, they do not have a centralized payment processing solution. When the guest reserves a room, payment information is captured during the booking process but then gets forwarded to the individual property where the guest will stay. That individual property is the merchant of record, which has its own acquiring relationship to manage and process the payment. When you think about this situation, it is disturbing on many levels. There is so much money being left on the table via payment commissions which really may not be warranted. The report goes on to state that there are four major hurdles that impact the process of frictionless commerce:Payment AcceptanceMulti-CurrencyOperational InefficiencyPCI Compliance and SecurityWhen it comes to achieving frictionless commerce, there are several areas where hotels are failing to retain revenue via these four major areas of concern.By simply moving away from a property by property payment model to a centralized model, hotels will save an enormous amount of money (1). Also, displaying prices upfront to guests in their relevant currency will lead to increased conversions and sales (2).Operational efficiencies (3) are somewhat in line with payment acceptance whereby if the process is done centrally, the brand can optimize the number of relationships it has with service providers/payment gateways. Then there is the matter of PCI compliance (4). I believe that we, as an industry, are well on our way to having a very good handle on this issue. Unfortunately, data breaches and hacks to platforms will likely continue, so we must stay vigilant.In a landscape of ever-increasing technology and business model disruption, pull from consumers and profitability will be the catalysts for frictionless commerce. Trust, convenience, and perceived value are the ingredients that will propel these changes in order to lower the fee structures while enhancing the travel journey at every touchpoint. Essentially, if it makes travelers' lives easier and boosts the bottom line, then there is a huge opportunity just waiting to be taken advantage of.Please share your thoughts about hotel and travel technology with me on LinkedIn.
Article by Andrew Sanders

Messaging, Chatbots and Omni-Channel Marketing

DataArt 23 January 2018
"By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human." - Gartner PredictsOnce relegated to science fiction, bots are now very much a part of our daily lives. From chatbots that learn a user's moods to provide meaningful responses, to messenger bots that can answer weather questions to help users dress appropriately for a day out, bots are becoming increasingly valuable and sophisticated. At the same time, brands are faced with a growing number of marketing channels to navigate, further expanding the complexities involved in delivering the correct message in the most effective place to increase conversions. Advertising is an expensive and time-consuming undertaking, making it essential for hotel brands to accurately address all channels in order to maximize success.Personalization Through Messaging and ChatbotsThe profound importance of personalization and comprehensive customer care in the hotel industry makes it an ideal environment for applying messaging and chatbot innovations that enhance the user experience.Major advancements in artificial intelligence, voice search, and messaging chatbots carry the potential for significant disruption in the hotel industry by allowing new players to gain traction through inventive means. The modern consumer expects immediate responses to their queries, and chatbots can consistently meet this demand, while the inclusion of call-to-action buttons and images within chat bubbles speeds up the conversion process further. As the sophistication of chatbots increases to offer human-like conversation, a multitude of opportunities arise for hotels to improve customer service while reducing costs at the same time.Paid ads and promotions are a necessary but costly way to generate traffic. However, this traffic must be properly engaged in order to increase conversions and warrant the expense. Direct bookings can be effectively secured via chatbots, whether through Facebook Messenger or a hotel's website, while the automated process reduces employee resource requirements.Chatbots provide an excellent way for guests to check-in and check-out on their mobile device. Consumers love avoiding lineups at a front desk when conducting a simple task, making chatbots an ideal method for saving time and improving the customer experience both at the beginning and end of a visit.Many questions and complaints that arise in a hotel are actually relatively simple to understand and solve, such as being booked in a room with the wrong beds or wanting to know the correct time for checking out. A hotel bot can easily offer a solution to the majority of these problems without the need for human intervention. And an intelligent bot is aware of the scenarios that demand a personal touch or a more complex response that can only come from human intervention, thereby directly notifying staff to provide seamless customer service.Personalization and hotels go hand-in-hand. Although it may initially seem counter-intuitive, chatbots can actually enhance the personal experience. By staying connected through the entire journey, from before guests arrive until after they return home, chatbots can greatly increase loyalty through comprehensive attention and exceptional care.The vast range of services available at a hotel can result in guests calling multiple extensions throughout their stay for both information and reservations. This situation is far from ideal, sometimes causing aggravation and even a reduction in the number of services ordered due to frustration. A chatbot can provide a wonderful solution, eliminating the need for multiple extensions and even prompting guests about other services they may be interested in but don't know about yet. In fact, Gartner stated: "By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human." And while some of this shift will be due to automated shopping through a website and other media, it's likely that a significant amount of guest interaction will be with chatbots in the not-too-distant future.Hitting the Right Channel at the Right TimeAccording to research conducted by Expedia Media Solutions, consumers visit an average of 38 websites per travel search. It's common for people to jump between various marketing channels and mediums while planning the details of a trip before they make their final decisions. In the evolving travel ecosystem, solidifying a thorough omni-channel marketing strategy is an essential component of keeping up with the expectations of the modern consumer.In general, customers are channel agnostic, moving from one marketing source to another as they research options, read reviews, and compare prices. And the travel industry is certainly not an exception to this rule. Brands that provide seamless navigation to allow customers to continue right where they stopped, regardless of the device, are able to create a superior experience leading to an increase in bookings.Although it can be a daunting world to navigate, social media is a critical component of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Posting the right photos and videos at the right time can provoke interest and excitement in potential guests, while including an interactive concierge app on a hotel's pages can be an ideal method for providing additional information within social media. For some hotels, frequent Tweeting generates a significant buzz that leads to bookings from new guests via Retweets and the creation of popular hashtags.Of course, personalization is always the key to success, and a focus on highly shareable content is essential. Because the number of travel brand options can sometimes be overwhelming for consumers, a data-driven strategy that delivers the right content at the right time via the right channel can allow a company to stand out from the pack.The importance of technology and omni-channel marketing in the hotel industry is growing at a rapid pace. And while it may seem daunting at times, innovative travel technology solutions, such as new applications of messaging and chatbots, offer exciting ways for hotels to personalize customer care. Similarly, while the number of marketing channels increases, brands can develop strategies that cut through the noise to reach interested consumers in new ways, leading not only to an increase in bookings but also creating personalized impressions that build an exceptional level of customer loyalty in the long-term.Please share your thoughts about hotel and travel technology with me on LinkedIn.
commercial

DataArt Joins HEDNA to Champion Technology Innovation and Collaboration

DataArt 18 January 2018
New York, London, Munich - January 16, 2018 - DataArt, the global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports unique software solutions, today announced it has joined the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA).As a member of HEDNA, DataArt joins hundreds of the most influential companies in the hospitality industry focused on accelerating innovation and advancing the hotel distribution landscape through strategic collaboration and knowledge sharing. DataArt's Travel and Hospitality team helps navigate the complicated, domain-specific systems and inner workings of the travel industry, having designed and delivered end-to-end solutions in and around GDS, CRS, PMS, RMS, IBE, TMC, CRM, CMS and POS systems in travel and hospitality.According to Andrew Sanders, VP of DataArt's Travel and Hospitality Practice, "Becoming a member of HEDNA is a testament to the company's ongoing and long-term commitment to supporting and advancing the hotel and travel industry. We look forward to becoming actively involved with HEDNA and its members as both attendees at the upcoming HEDNA Conference in Austin and supporting the Working Groups."Over the past few years, DataArt has become one of the most widely recognized and important technology consultancies in the world. It has been included in the Inc. 5000 List of the fastest-growing private U.S. companies for seven consecutive years, posting record revenue and consistent annual growth of over 30% during that time, on track to repeat this stellar performance in 2018. DataArt is also a member of HTNG, HSMAI, and OpenTravel and plans to expand involvement in the future, engaging with the community on a deeper level."We are thrilled to welcome DataArt as a new member," said Sarah Fults, President of HEDNA. "It is imperative to include development and design companies as part of our organization due to their agnostic approach and domain expertise. Bringing together the best professional minds from such a diverse membership base makes for a better association."To learn more about DataArt's travel solutions, visit dataart.com.About DataArt DataArt is a global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports unique software solutions, helping clients take their businesses forward. Recognized for their deep domain expertise and superior technical talent, DataArt teams create new products and modernize complex legacy systems that affect technology transformation in select industries.DataArt has earned the trust of some of the world's leading brands and most discerning clients, including Nasdaq, S&P, Travelport, Ocado, artnet, Betfair, and Apple Leisure Group among others. Organized as a global network of technology services firms, DataArt brings together expertise of over 2,500 professionals in 20 locations in the US, Europe, and Latin America.www.dataart.comTwitter: @dataartMedia Contacts:U.S. & Americas : Vica Miller +1 (212)378-4108 x 4014+44 (0) 2070-999464 x 4014 vica@dataart.comUK & Europe : Lief Anya Schneider +44 (0) 7971 950 899+44 (0) 2071 04 2213 lief@sbc.londonAbout Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA)HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whose worldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in the hospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancing hospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to be known for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development in the global hospitality industry. For more, visit www.HEDNA.org.
Article by Andrew Sanders

VR or AR? Will the hotel industry really cozy up to either one?

DataArt 14 December 2017
While AR and VR have a lot in common, they could also lead us down totally different paths. Augmented reality is a synthetic, computer simulated reality or recreation of a real-time environment where a user can interact with the replicated real environments, whereas virtual reality is entirely immersive.It is understood that both VR and AR have their unique applications, but right now, the latter is proving to be much more traveler friendly. The use of VR can be very attractive when used as a way to entice a prospective traveler or group buyer to give them visibility into your property look and feel. It can also be leveraged as a proactive sales tool, and in fact - it should be used in this manner. Selling space for conferences, weddings, and larger group bookings can be managed and results delivered with virtual reality. The big shift towards AR occurs when we look at how to impress the physical traveler. When it comes to impressing the individual traveler, augmented reality is definitely where it's at!There are many app development companies in the hotel and travel space that are implementing AR into their platforms. The goal of these innovations is to amplify the traveler or guest experience. Including data that is delivered via a mobile solution is certain to pique the interest of almost every leisure and business traveler. AR information can be consumed to make a business trip more efficient or productive, but it is also in place to educate and make a leisure trip much more interesting.Some of the ways that AR can impact a trip are:It can show directions and routes to the tourist.It helps to translate the signs on the boards while traveling.It gives the travelers a detailed information about sightseeing at a particular location.It helps the users to track and guide the locations by adding the layer of AR technology.It provides a new cultural experience to the mobile app user.A great example of this functionality is illustrated in the image below (mtrip):mtrip, based out of Montreal, Quebec has been in the location guide/technology business for quite some time, and they are beginning to perfect the implementation and delivery of AR to impact the guest journey directly. This is the essence of AR. It needs to be impactful to be widely adopted. It also has to be incredibly in-depth so as not to leave out information that a traveler seeks. It may be the evolution to a predictive environment that ultimately makes the adoption of AR by the traveler or guest a top priority. Once the persona or details of the guest and their individual likes or wants is applied, it will be much easier to deliver relevant information to them. This approach is far more effective than the delivery of just generalized information.Some of the challenges that face the AR travel world are significant. One of the biggest involves the cost of developing the content. In a Lifestyle Magazine article, DestinationCTO founder Alex Bainbridge brought a dose of reality to the Travel Tech portion of WTM in London. He noted that creating high-quality AR and VR content is expensive in today's current environment and that he looks forward to the time when independent tour providers and hotels can all participate in these technologies. Bainbridge explains, "Technology teaches us something. 10 to 15 years ago a content management system was $1 million now you can use systems such as WordPress for free. When technology is expensive, it's winner takes all which means the big intermediaries."While VR and AR have been a hot topic for a while, the next few years will see an explosion in applications, innovations, and revenues in the category. The travel industry is merely scratching the surface with these technologies, and there is still a great deal of groundwork to be done in delivering the optimal VR or AR experiences. Technical issues posed by AR are of a very different nature than in other technologies. Though the challenges can be overcome, companies delving into this space will need to stay focused on the emerging expectations of today's travelers and guests in order to successfully develop relevant offerings and meaningful content. They will also need to fully appreciate both the technological and human engineering requirements that are necessary to create engaging solutions that provide value and reach mass adoption.With technology changing so fast, it's hard to imagine what's coming next. Your imagination may very well be the limit and seeing the game-changing potential for augmented reality in travel and hospitality isn't hard.
Article by Andrew Sanders

What to Look for When Budgeting for 2018

DataArt 17 October 2017
The hotel industry is now entering "budget season" and making budget decisions this year may be quite an interesting process. There has been a dynamic shift related to the hotel operations landscape. A new type of hotel competitor has been gaining ground quickly, and now the guest is more in control of their stay than ever before. Having a comprehensive plan will increase the chance to garner a competitive advantage in such a vibrant environment.Fueled by new innovations, the hospitality market is evolving exceptionally quickly. Recently Oracle conducted a research initiative titled, "HOTEL 2025: Emerging Technologies Destined to Reshape Our Business". Among 150 hoteliers and 702 guests surveyed, it was revealed that more and more guests want to engage with hotels that offer the latest innovative technologies. The likelihood of this number continuing to increase is incredibly high as technology filters into every aspect of our work and personal lives. The challenge lies with hoteliers and their respective vendors determining the right combination of solutions that deliver either cost reductions or revenue gains as well as defining where to invest their CAPEX or OPEX dollars. We also mustn't forget about the guest. There are a plethora of technologies that are guest-facing - designed to help hotels build a better relationship with guests. Unfortunately, the exact ROI on these particular types of offerings is often hard to find. However, don't let that stop you from investing and implementing these technologies. People are always asking, "What is the ROI on the new engagement platforms?" We must then also ask ourselves, "What is the ROI on trust? What is the ROI on loyalty?"Some of the technology trends that are re-invigorating our industry and that should be considered for your 2018 budget:Mobile - BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) where people bring their mobile devices to watch (stream or cast) their own video content on the hotel TV.Digital Keys - "Keyless entry" allows guests to bypass the front desk, sends a notification to staff before guests arrive, and gives guests the option to book a variety of hotel amenities directly from the app.Data Analytics & Artificial Intelligence - Provides more personalized offerings such as suggesting services based on previous purchases or submitted preferences.Voice Activated Devices - Used as a channel of communication with the hotel (e.g., ordering room service or reporting issues with the room).Wi-Fi - This seems like nothing new, but bad Wi-Fi can sink a hotel's reputation.There is one glaring issue that often seems to be missed. This issue focuses on relevant expertise. As these new technologies are being adopted and implemented, the chance that you have on-property expertise and resources may be limited. Also, if you would like to expand the current offering and integrate it with other platforms such as analytics - you may not be able to perform these development initiatives in-house. Hotel companies need to fully understand the future development roadmap of the products they purchase and ensure that they meet their current and future needs. These new solutions will be part of the hotel technology ecosystem in short order, so you also need to prioritize your technology spend based upon your market segment and upon your typical guest profile. Some of these investments can be viewed as immediate requirement versus future needs. Ultimately, it is up to you, your marketing team, and your IT team to put together the tech budget that help you achieve your unique goals. You should also provision for consultancy and development services as the complexities of our business grow. The quality and speed of technology adoption are critical conditions in our highly competitive environment.Technology providers and solution design consultants, like DataArt, help hotel companies and IT vendors to partition the challenges. Further, they engage with optimized resources to help mitigate the risk related to the adoption of innovative and relevant solutions or platforms. The goal... to help hotels choose and integrate the technologies that will clearly reflect their values and aspirations back to the guest.
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Blockchain: Prepare, disrupt or be disrupted. In any event, get started!

DataArt 27 September 2017
The lesson here is stark: traditional hotel operators need to be learning, educating their teams, working with vendors and forming plans to get ahead of something that could disrupt their business. It's time to prepare, disrupt or be disrupted!Many readers will have heard of blockchain, or most certainly the reason it came into being in the first instance: bitcoin. But as with any new technology, there's a great deal of misinformation circulating. Blockchain is here to stay, and will likely become a significant disruptor in travel and hospitality. But what is it, and what should you be doing about it?What is blockchain?Put simply, blockchain is a distributed digital ledger, meaning that data relating to transactions is stored using a particular methodology that guarantees a transaction cannot be amended. Therefore, and by definition, a trusted chronology of transactions is created. Further, these transactions are stored on multiple servers, and any member of a particular blockchain has visibility into the data stored. This is necessary to ensure integrity, but also means sensitive information, like personally identifiable information (PII) and payment details should still be stored in databases and systems outside a blockchain.Regardless of the variety of blockchain flavors, these primary characteristics are constant:The data is immutable, meaning that records can only be added and never deleted or changedIt is distributed among many computers that each store full or partial copies of the ledgerIt creates a guaranteed 'trusted' environment between two parties"Trusted environment between two parties" is akin to a middleman where 'trust' would otherwise have to be artificially manufactured somehow. It facilitates the direct transfer of value between two parties who don't have to trust each other. The unit of currency, or the 'value', can be any digital asset, e.g. property deed, money, loyalty points, identity, music, votes and much more. Since the process of creating trust in a traditional sense can take time, blockchain has the potential to settle that aspect of a transaction much more rapidly than at present. Therefore, any entity that currently exists as a middleman and trades transactions between two parties stands to be disrupted by blockchain. In the hospitality world, the transactions most widely thought to be impacted by blockchain include loyalty points, travel insurance, mobile key and any authentication of assets including payments/settlements, procurement and possibly booking transactions and history.As of August 2017, as many as 80% of banking institutions worldwide are already investing in blockchain technology. Some governments are mandating that imported goods must (within a few years) be processed on technology based on blockchain, and it is already having a big impact on supply chain logistics and traceability. This means that blockchain is here to stay, and is the reason that everyone involved in hospitality technology, from hotel chain CTOs to software developers and vendors, need to ensure they're both educated and have a plan in place on the subject.What you should be planning/doing if you're not already1. Educate yourself and your teams.Make sure you know what blockchain is, how it works, and what your peer group and people in other industries are doing. This information is widely available via Tnooz, Forbes, HospitalityNet and DataArt.2. Develop a short- and medium-term strategy (pilot and vision).Blockchain has some significant benefits but will demand some business process re-engineering and, with it, changes to your software systems and likely infrastructure. Quite how it will impact you is unknown, so for now it's worth exploring what the impact could be and what your vision is. Start building the skills needed to support a blockchain environment with some small pilot projects.3. Influence the industry on strategy and priorities.In the spirit of being the influencer rather than the influenced, those who have an interest should be active in HFTP's task force on blockchain when it convenes, and follow HTNG's work group on the topic.4. Find suitable talent internally.You may find that your company has people who know something about blockchain already. Understand what talent you have and can access internally and what else you need.5. Source expertise externally.Experts and consultants exist and can help not only with strategy, education and policies but also with hands-on development in a blockchain world. DataArt is one of the few with live experience of developing application software on blockchains and has practices with industry experts in several sectors, including travel and hospitality.While blockchain may take some years to mature into something that is a mandatory requirement in software solutions that interact with other partners in hospitality, there's no doubt that it will also take a long time for organizations to understand what they need to do, and build those skills and infrastructure that will be essential. Now is the time to make sure you're not disrupted!
Article by Andrew Sanders

Guest Engagement and the Customer's Digital Journey

DataArt 13 June 2017
What are the top five ingredients in the race for 'first to adoption' that both hoteliers and tech suppliers share? DataArt's unique domain experience of delivering successful solutions to vendors and operators positions it to offer an inside track on successfully implementing an integrated guest-engagement strategy.The rules of engagement with hotel guests are changing as their needs, motivations and budgets evolve. We have identified several vital ingredients in ensuring optimal guest engagement and all the positive things that flow from having fully engaged customers: consistency of approach, frictionless interaction, and providing tools to establish guests enjoy their 'experiences' before, during and after their hotel stay.DataArt's experience designing and building travel and hospitality software solutions uniquely positions it as a master builder in all aspects of the digital journey. This knowledge, which spans from online tour operators (OTAs), to hotel operators and technology suppliers to the hotel industry, allows DataArt to shine a light on the critical areas that operators and suppliers alike need to champion:1. Deliver a consistent, holistic approach that offers good valueTripAdvisor recently reported (Ref i) that 34% of travelers want their accommodation to offer mobile check-in. However, this is only part of the story. In cases where a hotel actually offers this capability, how will they communicate it to the guest? There is a continual obligation on the hotel to engage with the customer, not the other way around. Furthermore, do the existing systems and data even allow the hotel to make the guest aware of this service in the first place and support it in each transaction? OTAs and many indirect, and sometimes even direct, booking channels either don't provide the hotel with the guest's contact details, or preclude it from using it for reasons that may be perceived as marketing or promotion, therefore making it impossible to fully interact.It is essential for both supplier and hotel operator/management company/chain to spell out in detail the end-to-end guest experience and explore all pitfalls and opportunities from a system and data point of view. A third-party facilitator, who can act as a catalyst for the strategy and bring technical expertise within the context of the business needs, will help design a well-thought-out and holistic solution, and may, perhaps, deliver this integration itself.2. Guests want to enjoy their experience. Make sure your touch points are enjoyable, i.e. simple, intuitive and work as promised. Guests expect their 'stay experience' to go beyond the walls of the hotelWhen Airbnb announced its "Trips" platform in November 2016 (Ref ii), it meant they were embarking on becoming a full-fledged travel company that would allow its customers to become immersed not only in their accommodation, but in their destination.Guests want to enjoy their experience, and travel technology needs to be frictionless - that is, allow the guests to do whatever they need in an intuitive way. Our experience at DataArt demands that our customers, be they hotel operators or technology vendors, have a clear view of what makes their end users (guests) tick, what motivates them and how a solution can be enjoyed the most.Integration and highly-efficient, well-designed interfaces between systems are essential. For instance, a guest may book a room and then pre-order a spa service. If they subsequently change details of their room booking, they expect their spa reservation to follow suit. Our experience shows this is often not the case - an example of a non-frictionless experience that must be avoided.3. Have a clear vision of what you want your systems to do, and why it will make the guest experience betterClarity of vision and ownership of your systems and what you provide your customers creates a pure identity of what it is you offer (thus helping you communicate your message). It also limits tangential changes that fundamentally alter the scope of your product or service, helps maintains quality and consistency and enhances the engagement with the customer you can achieve by keeping their use of your systems straightforward.While an operator or vendor should have a clear view of what it is THEY want to provide, early and active involvement of users can also make the difference between success and failure. Our preferred approach, and that which we believe is more likely to succeed, is to utilize a user-driven design. Non-user driven products can fail for the smallest reasons that could have easily been prevented with the right amount of user involvement at the right moments. DataArt encourages championing the users and develops software around a framework of iterative cycles, often involving end users.4. Ensure your guest interaction is fully integrated. Disengaged guests are less likely to return: but only 20% of guests feel fully engagedAccording to Gallup (Refs iii and iv), hotel guests that are fully engaged spend 46% more per year than actively disengaged guests. Full engagement means that customers are emotionally attached and rationally loyal - they go out of their way to obtain their preferred product or service. Offering tightly integrated and fully interfaced solutions means guests can engage with a hotel at any point and can rely on consistent interaction, thereby maintaining their emotional involvement. Since engagement rests heavily with the emotional as well as rational connection between customer and provider, consistency is key.Outstanding systems design, analysis, prototyping, proof of concepts, development, maintainability, documentation and execution are all critically important to the successful implementation of a system, and again an area where expertise delivers results.5. First-to-market is not the objectiveIt's commonly believed that first-to-market is a measure of success. While that is important, DataArt believes a greater measure of success is first-to-adoption: that is, optimal active take-up by users of any new solution or product.DataArt has been helping travel and hospitality practitioners, as well as suppliers, gain first-to-market and first-to-adoption advantage for nearly 10 years. Its breadth of experience of developing diverse application software, middleware and integration tools in its chosen sectors are second to none, and have been harnessed by some of the leading global travel and hospitality brands. The consultancy has successfully completed over 1,600 projects over 20 years in operation.Ref i - http://ir.tripadvisor.com/releasedetail.cfm?ReleaseID=919990Ref ii - http://www.businessinsider.com/airbnb-trips-launch-2016-11Ref iii - http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/192710/brands-aren-winning-millennial-consumers.aspx?g_source=HOSPITALITY&g_medium=topic&g_campaign=tilesRef iv - http://www.gallup.com/businessjournal/172637/why-customer-engagement-matters.aspx
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The Need for Speed: Runtriz leverages DataArt's expertise and ASSA ABLOY Hospitality technology to deliver "Front of the Line" program to hotels

DataArt 24 May 2017
DataArt (www.dataart.com) has announced that it was selected by Runtriz to help enhance its "Front of the Line" (www.FrontoftheLine.com) feature to reward guests with a VIP level experience. It is unique as it builds on Runtriz's installed base in over 100 countries to enable hotel guests to use their mobile device to not only check-in prior to their arrival, but additionally bypass the front desk at enabled hotels and head straight to their room, entering with Runtriz's mobile key."Runtriz chose DataArt to extend its platform to create a solution that seamlessly interacts with third party systems. Getting industry leaders involved was critical. DataArt brought not only development breadth but industry experience that enabled us to solve technical problems together for some of our high-profile customers. ASSA ABLOY Hospitality was the security and access technology company we wanted to engage with first due to our mutual high profile customers," said Alonso Vargas, Runtriz President and co-founder."DataArt worked with Runtriz and the ASSA ABLOY Hospitality SDK to deliver a practical solution, offering mobile keys within the Runtriz ecosystem," explained Alex Shchedrin, Vice President of Strategic Services at DataArt. "Our approach was to create a form of a CRM that acts as a glue when interacting with a variety of platforms."The ASSA ABLOY Hospitality Mobile Access solution greatly increases the guest experience, to allow guests to skip front desk lines and access their rooms via a secure, encrypted digital key on their smart phones. The company's goal in bringing mobile access to more properties worldwide is to work with companies who share the same passion and commitment to innovation.Runtriz is recognized as a pioneer in mobile guest facing solutions that enhance the guest experience including two-way chat, room upgrade promotions, offers, food and beverage/room service, proximity marketing, concierge in addition to expedited check-in and mobile keys. Runtriz wants to accelerate the cost savings benefit to hotels due to lower key costs while launching mobile key. Concurrently, guest satisfaction will rise as guest check-in times decline. Runtriz also focuses on solutions where it is able to achieve adoption faster than its competitors."Capitalizing on DataArt's experience has allowed us to deploy solutions rapidly with lower risk, enabling us to get to the "Front of the Line", while giving our hotel customers the ability to offer their guests the same," concluded Vargas.About DataArt:DataArt is a global technology consultancy that designs, develops and supports unique software solutions, helping clients take their businesses forward. Recognized for their deep domain expertise and superior technical talent, DataArt teams create new products and modernize complex legacy systems that affect technology transformation in select industries.DataArt has earned the trust of some of the world's leading brands and most discerning clients, including Nasdaq, S&P, United Technologies, oneworld Alliance, Ocado, artnet, Betfair, and skyscanner. Organized as a global network of technology services firms. DataArt brings together expertise of over 2,200 professionals in 20 locations in the US, Europe, and Latin America.www.dataart.com@dataartAbout ASSA ABLOY HospitalityThe global leader in hotel security technology, ASSA ABLOY Hospitality is part of the ASSA ABLOY Group, a publicly listed company. With products installed in properties all over the world, securing millions of doors globally, the company's comprehensive range of security and technology solutions is comprised of VingCard electronic locks, Elsafe in-room safes, integrated software platforms and advanced mobile access solutions. ASSA ABLOY Hospitality has worldwide service and support in more than 166 countries. For more information, please visit www.assaabloyhospitality.com.About Runtriz:Runtriz provides a suite of mobile software solutions for hotels, resorts and casinos. The Company launched the hotel industry's first iPhone app, and today many of the world's top hotels and casinos run their apps and mobile solutions on Runtriz platforms. The Company's hospitality platform enables brands and properties to quickly and inexpensively build a customized mobile app that provides guests access to all amenities and services at their fingertips via any device - smartphone, tablet or laptop - anytime, anywhere. Guests can expedite their check-in, order room service, make spa or golf appointments, book reservations, email and text with hotel staff and much more. In addition to its guest-facing hospitality solutions, Runtriz also offers several staff-facing mobile solutions that facilitate staff-to-staff communication as well as expedite and dispatch food and beverage orders poolside or at any venue on property. Clients using Runtriz platforms are experiencing higher guest service scores, greater revenues and significant efficiencies. For more information, visit www.runtriz.com.

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