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Here's Why You Should Not Miss the Skift Global Forum in NYC

Hospitality Net 21 July 2017
The Skift Global Forum in NYC is one of the most anticipated events of the year for travel and hospitality professionals and time is running out for those who want to plan a business trip to attend.With a stellar roster of speakers, the conference promises to bring great value to the attendees. Personalities like Stephen Kaufer (CEO TripAdvisor), Edward H. Bastian (CEO Delta Airlines), Dara Khosrowshahi (CEO Expedia), Glenn Fogel (CEO The Priceline Group), and Richard D. Fain (CEO, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd.) among several others will take the stage to deliver what the audience expects to be the "TED Talks of travel.""Take a day or two out, come, sit back, and listen, and we will promise you the best creative brainfood for the year," wrote Skift's CEO and Founder Rafat Ali in an article introducing the Skift Global Forum 2016. You can expect this promise to hold for the fourth edition of the conference in 2017 too.The speakers are the main reason for you to plan a trip to New York City this September. The early bird tickets already sold out, and the organizers expect more than 1000 travel professionals from across all industry sectors to attend the Skift Global Forum 2017. The venue chosen for the event is the Frederick P. Rose Hall at the Jazz at Lincoln Center performing arts complex.The conference is just three months away, and a full access ticket costs $ 3495. Thanks to a partnership between Skift, HospitalityNet, Travel Daily USA, Travel+SocialGood, Priority Pass, and Wanderful you now have a chance to attend the forum for free if you enter this giveaway. If you are lucky you will win a round-trip flight to New York City, a two-night stay at The Empire Hotel, a Skift Global Forum Priority Pass Standard Membership ticket, and four airport lounge visits.Hsyndicate.org CEO and Founder Henri Roelings encourages you to enter the giveaway for a chance to meet in person: "Make sure to grab your chance to win the ultimate Skift Global Forum package... and maybe we will meet in NYC in September 26-27."ENTER TO WINThe Skift Global Forum is "designed to inspire travel professionals about the business and creative potential of the world's largest industry," according to its organizers. More than a conference, it is an event where you can meet like-minded professionals, learn about the latest industry trends and forecasts, and even form new partnerships.
Article by Laura Kohlenberger

From Lost Dreams to Success: Interview with Jonathan Weizman, RoomChecking

Hospitality Net 20 June 2017
"I was a millionaire on paper at the time everyone believed the web will revolutionize the world," Weizman tells me with a nostalgic smile. Then he goes on talking about the odd financial machinations of the time when investors advised failed startups to wipe investments from their portfolio just to keep the investor's portfolio positive. Back then, he worked for a company that was a pioneer in GPS technology that had a good product."But when the industry crashed all investments stopped suddenly. So, the company I worked for did not sell. I left the company. I lost my dreams," Weizman recalls. This was a valuable lesson later on. The young entrepreneur left NYC and returned to France where the overall negative environment triggered by the failure of so many startups presented a career building challenge.He then worked in investment banking, later as CTO for Dane-Elec, till the high-tech wave started over and he returned to innovating in web technologies."Being innovative is not a noun but a verb," Weizman says, describing his career path. "It is a continuous movement where you are in the dark, where you don't know if you're doing right. Many people talk about successes or failure, but few describe the journey. When you discover that the path you explore won't make it, after investing so much time, energy, money, and taking the decision to move forward with a new idea, you feel your soul crushing like the waves of a tsunami. It is hard to maintain a family life because you basically get married to your project. There is no other choice than to focus totally on the project. In this context, I lead a team of ten engineers to build My Ditto, a NAS you could access remotely with literally zero configuration. I filed 5 patents and was awarded patent rights. Then things went so fast: we were awarded CES Innovation Award in Las Vegas in 2010, then Best of Macworld in 2011. But the company I worked for did not understand marketing and sales strategy. When they finally agreed to invest in marketing, it was too late, and they failed. I don't blame them, but I felt frustrated."This anecdote is one of the many Weizman has to share from his past. He finally decided to become his own boss, and, with RoomChecking, he has a successful product since 2013. RoomChecking was founded in 2013 as a project between Jonathan Weizman , Aaron Marz, and Emile Lugassy. The company is already a Microsoft Ventures Paris promising startup and has a dedicated customer base of 150+ hotels. Earlier in 2017, they got 750,000 EUR late seed-funding from Astotel Group, Maurice Hurand Hotels, and BPI. The road was not easy, but the lessons learned from the past helped develop a product which provides hotels the tools to improve guests' experience and deliver total customer satisfaction.Microsoft Ventures helped the project a lot, Weizman says. "At Microsoft Ventures I was the only guy who pitched with a two-pages Word document! Some other participants told me they thought I was old school and laughed at me, but it looks like I made it. Microsoft Ventures gave me so much: support, training, access to top entrepreneurs, and networking." These are the things small startups need to succeed, the CEO of RoomChecking believes, although he is aware that the "B2B hospitality market suffers from being too small or too hard to penetrate.""It is difficult to be honest because, as in every human interaction, when you fail you tend to blame the other parties involved," he told me relating RoomChecking's quest for funding. "We met with over 30 investors and the overall feeling was that they did not buy our vision."Surprisingly though, the funding came from the people who needed RoomChecking the most: hotel groups looking to diversify and move into the technology space. "Investment came from existing clients who understood the value of RoomChecking because they were using it for a year or so," Weizman said, and this is the takeaway of the journey: when you look for investment to develop a valuable product, ask the people who need it the most for help.
Article by Mihaela Lica Butler

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) - A Talk with Alvaro Hidalgo

Hospitality Net 13 February 2017
Continuing our interview series in anticipation of HITEC Amsterdam which takes place at the end of March (28-30) at RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre, we interviewed Alvaro HIDALGO, the Managing Partner of FIRST LOGIC Consulting and a respected Professional in the implementation of low & high contact traceability systems in Hospitality & Sports related facilities.Hidalgo shared with us ideas and updates about General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the impact the new law that will be in force in May 2018 will have on the Hospitality Industry. Adopted in April 2016, the law aims to strengthen and unify data protection for individuals within the European Union.As far as hospitality is concerned, the new GDPR changes the landscape dramatically."The new GDPR expands all rights and freedoms of data subjects and provides new processes and procedures for companies to manage personal data," Alvaro Hidalgo told us in an exclusive interview. "In addition, these methods need to be proven, and businesses will be compelled to maintain records of the same. Therefore, a clear traceability model is now part of the obligations of the regulation."Alvaro went on to explain that the new law implies the creation of new responsibilities and positions within a company, like Data Protection Officer (DPO), whose role will be to ensure that all data management within a business is carried according to GPDR. In other words, GDPR places the burden of proof with the company.As such, new EU GPDR will obsolete the current management of data currently in place in most companies, where various departments collect the needed data and carry the custody in the way they deem appropriate.While the EU GPDR includes significant legal changes (aforementioned "burden of proof," Codes of Conduct, Certifications, and Privacy impact assessments), the law focuses on the establishment of robust, consistent internal processes.The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) law requires a complete overhaul of all internal activities and processes that involve capture, use, storage or transfer of Personal Data, and as such, it affects not only IT and legal departments but all departments of any company."So companies will have to assess ongoing processes and their compliance with GPDR. New procedures will be implemented, and training material and systems for all staff involved will be put in place. As I said, a complete overhaul," concluded Alvaro (pictured right).While some may consider the implementation of the GDPR a major problem, Alvaro believes it is an opportunity for companies:"Centralized and coordinated data management is the first step to using Big Data. The hospitality industry manages a large quantity of personal data, which means that it will no doubt create the conditions to exploit new avenues, to innovate services, and to provide new sources of revenue."Planning for HITEC Amsterdam is in full swing with guidance from an advisory council representing eight European countries. The committee is chaired by Carson Booth, CHTP, and vice-chaired by Derek Wood. For the latest news, follow HFTP/HITEC on HITEC Bytes, PineappleSearch, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP) and Instagram (HFTP_HITEC). For more information about HITEC Amsterdam, contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at sales@hftp.org, +1 (512) 249-5333.

The Year in Review - 2016 Most Read Stories on Hospitality Net

Hospitality Net 30 December 2016
As 2016 comes to an end, we took an opportunity to look back at what sparked our readers' interest this past year on Hospitality Net. We would like to share the top opinion articles published on our website in the last 12 months. Click on the links below for the full article.January 2016Important Social Media Marketing Trends for the Service Industry in 2016 | By Deven BhagwandinThe new year brings the opportunity to discuss what we think some of the important social media marketing trends for the service industry will be in 2016.The importance of social media will only increase in the future, which means it's important for...Understanding the Marketing Strategies for OTA's vs Hotels Website | By Ahmed Mahmoud Expedia, Booking.com, Kayak and Hotels.com are prolific spenders on Google AdWords, regularly logging in the top fifty search engine marketers by spending an average of $67,250 per day. And that's just on Google.So how does this ad spend play out...Innovation in Hospitality Management | By Carlos Martin-Riosbusiness model, organizational, and marketing innovation--in hospitality firms' dynamic capabilities?Investigating and responding to these challenges is of paramount importance.Hospitality leaders are realizing how important it is to address the...February 2016Fast-forward to 2017: What will the global hotel industry look like? | By David ChestlerSome of the more startling shifts are in:Regional market growth - The US market will grow more than six times faster than the European market, showing 6.8% compound annual growth rate compared to just 1.1%Chains v independent disparity - European...Hotel Spa Departments - Following Industry Trends | By Robert Mandelbaum and Andrea FosterComing out of the great recession, U.S. hotel operators struggled to earn revenue from sources other than the rental of guest rooms. However, in 2014, we began to see guests spend their money in other areas of the hotel. According to the 2015 edition...What hotels need to know about content marketing in 2016 | By Abi Mandelbaumemails, blogs, social media posts and webpages -- must be smartphone and tablet friendly. When you create content, pull it up on different phones and tablets to make sure it is visually appealing, and that the most important portion of the content a...March 2016The Impact of AirBnb on Hotel and Hospitality Industry | By Ahmed Mahmoud The emergence of multi-sided technology platforms, collectively known as the "sharing economy", has enabled individuals to collaboratively make use of under-utilized inventory via fee-based sharing. Consumers have so far enthusiastically adopted the...How the hospitality sector is slowly waking up to Big Data analytics | By Mike WheatleyThe hotel sector is ripe for a Big Data-drive transformation, but there are still huge obstacles to overcome before that happens.As an industry, the hospitality sector captures huge volumes of data that has the potential to dramatically change how...Current Events Articles for the Hotel and Service Industries | By Deven BhagwandinIt seems that some current events, social media and its use in the hotel and service industry, and some trending events have been on most of my reader's minds lately.I thought I'd prepare a list of a few current event articles that have stuck out to...April 2016Facebook Zero: R.I.P Organic Reach on Facebook | By Alicia WhalenSome have called it "Facebook Zero", while others have referred to it as the Reachpocalypse. Whatever name it goes by, it has left Marketers frustrated and business owners who rely on Facebook at a loss for how to drive traffic and generate sales...What's the difference between the Hospitality Industry and the Service Industry?WOW! What IS the difference between the hospitality industry and the service industry? Do you know? Can you tell me?I can't believe I haven't done this before. I guess I've assumed that anyone who is reading my posts would already have an idea of...Here's How Automation Is Transforming the Hospitality Industry | By Mitrankur MajumdarThe Henn-na Hotel in Japan is one of the great hotels of the world - and it just got a lot more futuristic. When you walk up to the front desk, a Japanese hostess bows and says "welcome." The catch: She's a robot. What's fitting is that in Japanese...May 2016Hotel technology 2020: What will the hotel of the future look like? | By David ChestlerAfter a long flight, a weary traveller strolls off the plane. The beacon nearby detects him and signals he has arrived with his Uber waiting to take him to his hotel. His TripIt has his itinerary and details from multiple locations all sorted onto...10 Key Trends for Revenue Management in 2016 | By Maeve WallsThe past few years have given birth to a wide variety of revenue management 'best practices' and tools. What's the equation for success? Two of the major factors affecting a modern revenue manager's success are the tools they are using, and how well...9 Hotel Waterpark Resorts Coming to Colorado | By Jeff Coy- including the addition of an indoor waterpark where the conference center once stood. The hotel, located on I-25 Exit 153 at InterQuest Parkway in north Colorado Springs stood empty and partially finished since 2009, a victim of the Great Recession...June 2016 Dubai Parks and Resorts on track to open in October | By Patience Lelo KlaasDubai Parks & Resorts (DPR), the Middle East's largest integrated theme park destination, is set to open its many gates to the public in October this year.This massive amusement park in Dubai will incorporate motiongatetm Dubai, Bollywood Parkstm...Hospitality and Restaurant Industry Must Read Articles | By Deven BhagwandinI'm working on the next phase of my Owning a Restaurant series but in the meantime, I've come across another set of service and hospitality industry news articles that I think you'll be interested in reading. All of these are quick reads. As always...2016's Most Important Digital Marketing Trends for the Hospitality Sector | By Edward Jones2016 was always set to be a year of shiny-new toys to play with from a hospitality marketing perspective. From video conferencing to remote training opportunities to the most simplified centralised management systems to date, the IT takeover really...July 2016An HVS Guide to Hotel Revenue Management | By Justin Kaminski and Breanna Smithoften frequently throughout the day--and make tactical decisions on rates over the next 90 days. It is extremely important to have longer-term strategic pricing guidelines in place that are determined annually in strategy meetings with hotel leaders...Neither revPAR nor occupancy are ideal indicators of hotel profitability - it's all about the ARPAR! | By Kiran SunnyThere's no denying that room sales is the life-source of most hospitality businesses. But while establishing high occupancy is indeed important, it shouldn't be the sole focus of a modern hotel. When considering profitability, concentrating on...The Ultimate Luxury Hoteliering 101! Part 2 | By L. Aruna Dhir What is it that the luxury traveller really seeks from his hotel experience? When money is not the consideration, what do premium places of stay bring out on the silver platter to this discerning set of guests for whom luxury is a way of life? How do...August 2016Hot industry trend: Video marketing for hotels | By Sarah CameTwo years ago, in Think with Google's report The 2014 Traveler's Road to Decision, Google called video "the new frontier" for hotel marketing, yet many hoteliers have been slow to include video in their marketing mix.While still images and the...Chinese Investment Trends in U.S. Hotel Real Estate | By Li Chen and Kirsten Z. Smileyincluding hotels--has become increasingly pronounced every year since.[1]Hotel and Hotel Portfolio Investment out of ChinaThe following tables show major single-asset transactions made by Chinese investors in the last five years. The two transaction...Heads in beds: refining room inventory management | By Estefania EscobarConsidered one of its most precious assets, a hotel's inventory is what keeps the business running. As part of revenue management strategies, inventory management is a key concept for hoteliers. We have five suggestions to improve it now. Figuring out...September 20164 Lessons Airbnb's Marketing Strategy Can Teach Hoteliers | By Michael Innocentin more than any major hotel brand -- Airbnb has set its sights on business travelers. It announced in July that it had inked a partnership with a trio of travel management companies: American Express Global Business Travel, BCD Travel, and Carlson...Why should hoteliers bet on video marketing? | By Estefania EscobarAlthough video advertising for hotels has mixed opinions in the industry, social media, and new technologies are challenging those points of view. Go beyond photos and let's see how to use this powerful tool to get more bookings and enrich your hotel...12 Reasons Travel and Hospitality Brands Should Boost Their B2B Content Marketing in 2017 [INFOGRAPHIC] | By Alan Youngand planning time for 2017. I am sure you already see the paradigm shift in the travel and hospitality technology industry ---and it is truly tougher than ever to break through the noise. There's a reason why CMOs at the largest tech brands report...October 2016HVS Market Pulse: Baton Rouge, LA | By Bunmi AdeboyeBaton Rouge, aka the "Red Stick," was so named by 17th century French explorers who came upon a native boundary marker at the top of a bluff, in the form of pole painted red. Now the capital city of the state of Louisiana, Baton Rouge is also the...2017 Digital Marketing Roadmap: What You Need To Know | By Alicia WahlenIt is not about following the latest technology or social media channel, but more about knowing how your target customers are navigating the internet, where they are most likely to find your brand online, and what it takes to get them to buy. Here is...The High Cost of Low Employee Engagement | By Joshua M. EvansEngaged Employees are great! They are genuinely more likable, more committed to their work, and are often more optimistic about the companies they work for. While everyone can appreciate employees that are engaged, few companies understand the HUGE...November 2016Marketing Strategies for a Competitive Advantage in 2017 | By Robert A. RauchAccording to Geoffrey Moore in his book Living on the Fault Line: Managing for Shareholder Value in the Age of the Internet, stock price is a measure of future potential based on present competitive advantage. Competitive advantage consists of two...Strategies to a successful digital marketing campaign | By Josephine WawiraCapitalizing on online channels as elements of new media to promote brands, and sell products/services is perhaps the best approach to reach out to potential and existing online customers in this digital era. The Main aim is to make it possible for...WATG Hospitality Trends Forecast 2017 | By Muriel MuirdenWATG have been breaking ground in hotel design for over 70 years, designing some of the most innovative and award-winning destinations around the globe. With a finger firmly on the pulse, WATG Trend Forecaster Muriel Muirden has rounded up the top...December 2016Robert Rauch's Top 10 Trends in Hospitality for 2017 | By Robert RauchJust 10 years ago, Facebook morphed into a mainstream business tool, Twitter arrived, the iPhone exploded on the scene and Android phones were born. Today, the pace of change has accelerated dramatically. In his new book, Thank You for Being Late...Travel and Hospitality Predictions for 2017 | By Mihaela Lica ButlerThere's something special about the end of the year, as industry experts in every niche look ahead with hope, trying to predict what the future will change and bring new in their respective fields. Hospitality follows the trend, and I have been...Three Game-Changing Hospitality Trends for 2017 | By Tammy FarleyThere is an old adage that says, "The only constant is change." Although attributed to Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher who lived around 500 B.C., apparently that statement is as true now as it has ever been - perhaps even more so. 2016 has proven to...
Article by Mihaela Lica Butler

HITEC Amsterdam Perspectives - A Talk with Stephen Minall

Hospitality Net 12 December 2016
A while back we spoke with Stephen Minall, member of the HITEC Amsterdam Advisory Council and owner of Moving Food Ltd., to address the issue of whether the industry needs to elevate the role of IT Managers. Minall is a man of few words and a brilliant strategist. His answer back then was simple: "it should be a challenge to all hotels."We continued our discussion with Stephen to cover other important matters, like shadow IT, less control over every aspect of technology, and mobile technology.A pressing concern in the industry is how data privacy and nationalization impede capabilities to provide efficient IT operations that enhance guest service. As a response to the question, how should hospitality technology participate in lobbying efforts with governmental jurisdictions, Minall considers that petitioning "should be done at all levels but sadly most general managers rely on positioning, rather than looking at this themselves."Lobbying may help prevent unintended consequences by opening a direct dialogue between professionals in the industry and governmental policymakers who make the decisions that affect business and the economy. Companies like Uber and Airbnb are already active lobbyists urging lawmakers to ease nationalization standards in cities all over the world. They extend their reach beyond city and state lobbying to create good will and to shift standards.On to the matter of shadow IT which we previously addressed in an interview with Timo E. Kettern, IT Director at Lapithus Hotel Management, Minall insisted on the role of hotel chains:"If chains were far-reaching, they could afford to ring-fence certain hotels or regions, and thoroughly test/trial innovation, take the plunge, take the risk, and look at the responses and results."Concerning mobile technology and easing the guest experience, Minall sees the what and timing of purchasing such technology challenging, but recommends hospitality pros to stay abreast of innovation:"It has to be a major headache on what and when to buy this new technology. Guests will now expect to book/buy/bargain and then pay as they are doing with every other form of purchase. Follow and lead or die on the vine!"Concluding the interview, Minall addresses a challenge to industry pros to consider how hospitality IT should engage with gig technologies like AirBNB, Uber, or those that allow customers to order takeout online, and so on. His expert opinion is that these cannot be swept under the carpet.Planning for HITEC Amsterdam is in full swing with guidance from an advisory council representing eight European countries. The council is chaired by Carson Booth, CHTP and vice-chaired by Derek Wood. For the latest news, follow HFTP/HITEC on HITEC Bytes, PineappleSearch, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP) andInstagram (HFTP_HITEC). For more information about HITEC Amsterdam, contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at sales@hftp.org, +1 (512) 249-5333.What is your take?
Article by Mihaela Lica Butler

Hotels Europe: Challenges and Potential 2017

Hospitality Net 28 November 2016
Last week, in Athens, a cast of hospitality and travel tech experts gathered at the Digi.travel EMEA Conference & Expo. The conference was dedicated to online travel trends and developments, and to solutions for the most pressing challenges facing the industry. Here is a synopsis of the meet-up, and the high points from some of the world's most knowledgeable hospitality-tech experts.Digi.travel EMEA Conference & Expo Day OneFrom the onset of the conference attendees saw the event kicking off with a highly informative presentation by TripAdvisor's Anna Rufo, who is Head of Display Sales - Central & Eastern Europe. Rufo's detailed talk focused on TripAdvisor as a sales and marketing tool and keyed on markets like Russia where Greece growth is concerned. Rufo's lead off paved the way for one of the world's most successful hoteliers, Tom Magnuson of Magnuson Hotels, who discussed how industry players can profit even in trying economic and an uncertain geopolitical atmosphere.Magnuson, whose keynote set the tone for the summit, offered several innovative marketing templates. The co-founder of the Magnuson brand engaged the Greece market from within key-point destination hospitality, but more importantly fringe regions where thinking outside the box can optimize room sales. Following Magnuson's in-depth talk, a panel discussion alongside two of Greece's most successful executives, and a hospitality media celebrity helped galvanize the conference's key topics. Alongside Magnuson were Hotelbrain's Founder and President, Panos Paleologos; AEROTEL Group President, Alexandros Vassilikos; and HospitalityNet's very own Henri Roelings, who founded and publishes the world's most read B2B hospitality media.All four experts' focus was on how best to serve the customer journey and their travel experience by using not only new technologies but traditional hospitality value. Paleologos' focus in particular called to question hotel management reaching too far afield, rather than "doing what each hotel does best." Vassilikos' hotel group's keen focus being on guest satisfaction, the AIROTEL Group also focuses on the "Athens experience," or destination-specific value. On this, both Tom Magnuson and Henri Roelings, elaborated further, telling the audience to innovate through localization.Day one finished with Dimitris Kossyfas, who's the Head of Travel - Google Greece, Cyprus and Malta; Murat Ozkok, who's Skyscanner's Marketing Manager, Turkey & Greece; IBM's Haris Linardakis; Microsoft's Michalis Moschos; Edouard Le Lesle of Amadeus; and day one conference chairperson, Dr. Marianna, Sigala.Digi.travel EMEA Conference & Expo Day TwoConference Chairman for day two was Phil Butler, Senior Partner of Pamil Visions PR, who had led the previous day's panel discussion. Phil introduced me to the attendees, and I discussed social PR trends and strategies. Following my presentation was Sojourn's Eleonora Francioni, who talked about how data has transformed the advertising landscape, and who fielded endless questions from the interested audience.With data and revenue as the closing sentiment, conference experts like; HQPlus's Philipp Stelzer and Xenia Nartschick captivated the audience with stunningly details data analytics for business intelligence. Stelzer actually surprised many attendees with HQPlus' deep capability for targeting segments. Following the HQPlus presentation, Vasiliki Mavrokefalou of Digital Ecosystems hammered home the critical point of using data-driven approaches. Later in the day Iconik Hospitality's Athanasios Tzakos, TrustYou's Marie-Christin Vollmer, Zoottle's Abriel Efstathiou, and key consultant Dr. Dimitris Koutoulas informed the audience and media about unlocking existing data, the power of feedback, monetizing WiFi, and managing TripAdvisor reviews respectively.Conference FinaleBesides the keynote presentation of Tom Magnuson, the most highly anticipated topic of Digi.travel EMEA Conference & Expo was the fast emerging Chinese traveler market segment. Tomasz Janczak of Plateno Group Europe made a gripping presentation highlighted by an emerging Chinese middle-class tourist market, as well as the luxury component of this burgeoning potential. Janczak also focused on another similar potential from the BRICS, and emergent technologies like Plateno Connect. The audience was again surprised to discover the current situation where Chinese visitors to Europe capitals are concerned. According to the Plateno executive, the already massive Chinese visitor influx is not because of OTAs, as is the case for other segments, travel agents and wholesalers representing the lion's share of this market left the audience with a positive footnote to ponder.Finally, Digi.travel EMEA Conference & Expo Athens concluded on a highly tense note as a final panel with Plateno's Janczak and Tourism Generis' Georgios Drakopoulos found conflicting views on the scope and strategies for attracting Chinese travelers. Drakopoulos, who's a special adviser to the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) was of the opinion that the Greek government would not co-fund pilot projects for creating the China conduit to Greece. For Janczak's part, Plateno Group has connection building tools and traveler supply in place. The rub, as it appears, is the lack of direct flights and other ease of travel elements being in place. In the end, both experts concurred on the need for private initiatives and funding to get these direct flights on the course.
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Shadow IT - An Interview with Timo E. Kettern

Hospitality Net 11 November 2016
Timo E. Kettern is the IT Director at Lapithus Hotel Management and a respected professional in his field. In anticipation of HITEC Amsterdam which will take place next year in March in Amsterdam, we spoke with him about shadow IT activities, technology, and devices that fall outside the traditional IT funding.The central question is whether shadow IT like unapproved software, apps, and devices need to be managed by the IT department of the organization, considering that many of these tools may raise serious security challenges, leaving the business exposed to all kinds of attacks. Because each business is different and shadow IT evolves, should the IT department create a particular branch to manage such tools? How can IT not stifle innovation but still exercise required security and fiscal governance in the organization?Kettern addressed some of the issues with his response, beginning with the increase of compliance and legal requirements and what hurdles hospitality pros need to overcome to get the job done, and ending with an emphasis on balance."It remains a matter of fact that in the last years more and more compliance and legal requirements came into effect. As all main business processes in the hospitality industry are technology enabled, what easier than to put the required compliance standards into the IT systems and processes? So far so good, you would think.But these controls and processes make it more time-consuming and cumbersome for an associate to get their job done. For example, in some jurisdictions, we are required to capture certain private details of the guest and store them in our PMS. The data fields in the PMS then become mandatory for input. What then happens during a busy check-in is that anything will be inserted in the date fields by the associate just to finish registration process as quickly as possible. You can't really blame them for trying to serve the arriving guest as quickly and efficiently as possible. So, on we have a regulatory requirement that is translated into an IT process that results in Data-Mull.As another example, hotels cannot send/receive credit card data in unencrypted emails. As IT responsible people in the hotel industry, we apply all sorts of technology to make sure non-plain text credit card number can be sent or received using the corporate email. But nothing stops the creative reservations team to set-up a webmail account with any free email provider and to use that to receive credit-card information from the guest. So who is to blame here? The institutions that create these rules? The corporate IT Team for doing their best to keep the company compliant and therefore out of trouble? Or the associates in the hotel who only want to get their job done efficiently?"Kettern (pictured) concludes his response with an emphasis on balance, which is essential for good business."In my opinion, every organization has to find the right balance between compliance and risk of conducting the business - and, of course, that will vary greatly depended on the ownership of the hotel (group)."Planning for HITEC Amsterdam is in full swing with guidance from an advisory council representing eight European countries. The council is chaired by Carson Booth, CHTP and vice-chaired by Derek Wood. For the latest news, follow HFTP/HITEC on HITEC Bytes, PineappleSearch, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP) andInstagram (HFTP_HITEC). For more information about HITEC Amsterdam, contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at sales@hftp.org, +1 (512) 249-5333.
Article by Mihaela Lica Butler

Converging Perspectives on Elevating the Role of IT Managers in Hospitality

Hospitality Net 20 October 2016
HITEC Amsterdam will bring together the best of hospitality financial and technology professionals next March, in an event that will show advances in the trade with access to innovative resources, industry experts, and vendors. The European version of HITEC (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference) which takes place in North America every year, HITEC Amsterdam is a premiere on the continent and promises to be the hospitality event of the year, with some 60 booths exhibiting advanced solutions and innovative industry-specific technology. In anticipation of the conference taking place next year, Hospitality Net conducts a series of interviews with HITEC Advisory Council members discussing relevant industry issues and offering expert insight on key technology topics.Among these topics, the first to be addressed is the role of the IT manager and what steps the industry should take to educate owners and operators, as well as what steps individual system administrators should take to raise their profiles, as their roles now include SaaS SLA, cybersecurity, data privacy, guest technology support, and so on. So far the function of the IT manager remains locked-out of the operational decision-making process, but as the industry evolves, perhaps is time for this role to be elevated to a broader undertaking.Stephen Minall, Owner of Moving Food Ltd., believes that elevating the role of the IT manager should be a challenge to all hotels, and Michael Levie, CitizenM Hotels founder and COO, considers that today's system functions and requirements are of strategic nature for the survival of companies, and, in his words, "need to stand central in the commercial and operational tracks of hotel organizations." He goes on explaining that "local IT managers deal mostly with plugs, office enabling and support, but mostly don't have the capacity to deal with the strategic decisions. The problem is, however, they often are convinced they are and leading, and directing unknowledgeable hoteliers leads to major disasters."Whether IT managers will be integrated into the decision-making process remains to be seen, however, their roles are increasingly more complex as new technologies emerge. In fact, it is safe to say that their function is vital for business growth and the bottom line. This topic remains open to debate as professionals in the industry continue to define new standards, shifting paradigms. Stephen Minall goes as far as to ponder, "does marketing play a role too?"Crucial in maintaining organizational effectiveness and efficiency by defining and supporting strategic plans for improving IT operations, IT managers may not yet have a role in policymaking, but they certainly influence the process. It is no longer enough for such professionals to overview the technical aspects of their work solely, but they also need to implement information technology strategies and policies, and they need to evaluate and anticipate industry trends. Collaboration with professionals in the field is mandatory to achieve these goals and attendance to events like HITEC Amsterdam enables it. Participating in the conference will give IT managers in hospitality the tools, resources, and network to raise their profiles.Planning for HITEC Amsterdam is in full swing with guidance from an advisory council representing eight European countries. The council is chaired by Carson Booth, CHTP and vice-chaired by Derek Wood. For the latest news, follow HFTP/HITEC on HITEC Bytes, PineappleSearch, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP) andInstagram (HFTP_HITEC). For more information about HITEC Amsterdam, contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at sales@hftp.org, +1 (512) 249-5333.
Article by Mike Wheatley

7 Days Booster CEO Talks about Packaged Predominance

Hospitality Net 11 March 2016
The explosion of tourist arrivals from China to numerous destinations around the world represents perhaps the last great opportunity for the hospitality industry. Now, 7 Days Group wants to help hotels around the world cash-in on this phenomenon with a unique new marketing solution delivering direct access to what is for many, a largely untapped customer segment via the launch of 7 Days Booster.7 Days Booster is an intriguing offering for hotels that combines elements of online distribution, property design and upgrades, and education, with access to more than 80 million potential customers from China. The offshoot startup, just announced today at the ITB press center, is a timely and intriguing late addition to a stable of like investments in the space."There is no other product on the market like it," beamed Goor Rosenberg, Director of Development Europe at Plateno Hotels Group, and Co-Founder and CEO of 7 Days Booster . "This new product fulfils the expectations of a large market segment, and we aim to address this niche, and be successful."Normally, we would be quick to dismiss Rosenberg's comments as the usual hyperbole-laced PR speak that's become a mandatory accessory to any new product launch. But the more the startup CEO talks about the product's capabilities, the more convinced we become that he and 7 Days Booster might really be onto something."First of all, it's a flexible product with a low entry cost, offering access to the Chinese market and above all, it is simple and very easy to understand," Rosenberg insists. "China has become one of the biggest outbound travel markets in the world, and we have access to it of course, but this is only the tip of the iceberg."Rosenberg went on explaining how the 7 Days Booster can benefit all types of hotels, from budget-friendly two-star properties to the most glamorous of five-star resorts. The product comes with three separate offerings, and hotels are free to use all or just one of them. The most important though is the e-marketing and e-commerce component, available in the Technology & Distribution package. This is a critical offering, because it allows a hotel that's located anywhere in the world to access the Chinese market via 7 Days Group's Plateno Club membership program, which currently boasts in excess of 80 million members. Using the platform, hotels can easily create brand awareness among this rich new audience.Once they've tapped into this new audience, hotels may well want to move forwards by taking advantage of the additional packages 7 Days Booster offers. This includes a Property Upgrade package that lets hotels better cater to Chinese guests. The physical upgrades "includes a room refurbishment option for new fixtures, modern furniture, faster Wi-Fi and better visibility through external signage," Rosenberg informed us.Last but not least, hotels can also take advantage of what Rosenberg calls "add-on services" which encompass educational offerings so hotels better understand Chinese traveler's needs and expectations. "We have a great team in place, and they're equipped to address most of our key customers' needs," he insisted.Many hoteliers might ask why they need to target a Chinese audience that typically only buys package holidays using hotels which partner with China-based travel agencies. When I put this question to Rosenberg, his answer was that the stereotype of the Chinese traveler sticking rigidly to his or her pre-planned tour group itinerary is rapidly fading. These days, Chinese travelers are a becoming increasingly more independent than before, and that means they're more open to choices than those offered by traditional travel agencies."Technology is now an inseparable part of our hospitality world," the 7 Plateno Group executive explained. "More and more guests are using the internet to research, compare and book their accommodation on-line, and in China it's no different."

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