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Article by Alan Young

How Amazon Go No Checkout Stores Will Influence the Future of the Hospitality & Travel Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 13 February 2018
Our world is endlessly transformative, with a wealth of technological innovations and advances coming to life and capturing large-scale societal attention on what feels like a weekly basis. Self-driving cars, cryptocurrency, artificial intelligence -- the future seems to be arriving faster than some of us have a chance to take a breath. At the heart of most revolutionary technology exists the progressive desire for increased convenience and efficiency as it applies to our day-to-day lives, businesses and more. Staying true to this trend, Amazon Go recently opened a grocery store like we've never experienced (but probably always dreamed of) in Seattle. No carts, no lines, no cash and no waiting -- a completely cashless grocery experience in which shoppers enter through turnstile gates, grab the items they need and exit the way they came, just like that. While shopping, the store takes inventory of what you pick from the shelves and automatically charges your Amazon account. Could this be the future of shopping? It sure seems like it. According to most experts, there is little doubt that many, if not all of the concepts from the Amazon Go store will be adopted by A-level customer-centric industries over the next five years." If we think about it, the pursuit of automation and mobile optimization has long since begun its takeover. Self-checkout, server-less restaurants, Apple Easy Pay, Uber, mobile orders at places like Starbucks, mobile keys for your hotel room and the rise of voice-powered personal assistants, the need for technology-driven efficiency is paramount. So, the question becomes, how will a revolutionary (and potentially disruptive) advancements like the Amazon Go no checkout store, influence the future of other industries? Specifically, how will the hospitality and travel industry be affected or better yet -- how can it keep up? An Emphasis on Frictionless Experience Sometimes, cutting-edge tech solutions are rejected by consumers, and this occurs when the technology places increased cognitive stress on the consumer based on a complicated user interface. Increased efficiency can't be achieved without simplicity -- if the technology in question doesn't readily make the user's life easier, it simply can't be viewed as efficient. The key to wide-spread adoption lies in frictionless user simplicity and in the case of the hospitality industry, this requires solutions that are easy for both guests and staff to interact with and master.Using the Amazon Go store as an example, we can call attention to the simplistic nature of the "just walk out" process. There is no complicated user responsibility involved in the model; it presents a clear process that can easily be understood and adopted by the general public. For hoteliers, this emphasis on the frictionless experience will be expected at every touch-point, for every guest. No front desk lines, mobile keys, mobile payments for ordering items and special requests and immediate response to service requests. This type of interactions will quickly become the expected standard for hotels embracing the future of hospitality and advanced customer-driven solutions and sales. The Era of Self-Service Has Arrived The future is mobile. Hoteliers are feeling pressure, now more than ever before, to embrace their guest's desire for mobile optimization and self-service functionality. This applies to mobile booking, room keys, check-in, concierge, stores, notifications, payments and more. Guests want to hold all the power, right in the palm of their hand. We should also consider the consumer psychology at work within uninterrupted self-service and how it can empower individuals to spend more. Traditionally, the further we are removed from the "pain of paying" that's often associated with cash transactions, the less we understand how much we're really spending. Additionally, if stuck in a line at check-out, consumers are granted the opportunity to mull over their more impulsive purchase items and potentially change their mind. When you remove these two psychological processes with the help of automated payments and self-service technology, you are tapping into increased revenue potential. This same logic applies to the hospitality industry, as hoteliers can use the frictionless, self-service model to empower their guests to spend more while on property and, most importantly, continue re-booking. Automation Should Enhance Guest Service, Not Replace ItDespite the increased demand for efficiency and self-service, many guests still seek a high-touch, hands-on and personalized approach throughout their hotel stay. The increase in automation within a hotel's core processes should create a subsequent shift in staff roles, allowing them to focus more on helping and guest engagement, rather than transactions. The carefully curated provision of exceptional (and personalized) face-to-face guest service will, without a doubt, become a key competitive advantage and differentiator for hotels. As a hotelier, ask yourself, how can increased automation revolutionize the way your staff engages with your guest?

HEDNA Tackles Costly Payment Challenges at January 2018 Global Distribution Conference in Austin

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 8 January 2018
The upcoming HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) Global Distribution Conference has become the go-to place for hotel industry payment insights, education and best practices. The nearly sold-out event will deliver the most comprehensive information, resources, and dialogue to help hoteliers gain control of the complexities associated with regulations, virtual payments, data security, GDPR and guest demands when it comes to payment strategies.The conference, which has attracted top delegates from hotel chains, multi-properties, independents, management companies, technology suppliers, payment companies and many others, takes place from January 29th - 31st, 2018 at the Sheraton Austin. This year, the payment tracks take center stage to address important topics including how to implement a 'guest centric' payment strategy, how to right size a hotel's third-party costs from a payment perspective, virtual payment trends, compliance, B2B payments, as well as solutions for upcoming issues such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The elite group of speakers and presenters is comprised of payment experts and influencers from Braintree - A PayPal Company, Ingenico, Edgar, Dunn & Company, Worldpay, Elavon, Hilton, JP Morgan, WEX, Onyx CenterSource, and Voxel Group. For a full list of topics and presenters, visit austinhedna.com/agenda.The Hotel Analytics Working Group will also share the wealth of data received from the 1,000+ HEDNA members and non-member participants in a recent survey. The analysis and White Paper provide recommendations and guidelines to educate hotels globally on how best to use their data to optimize both profit potential and long-term asset value.Other highlights of the event include the highly anticipated Innov8 session and a "Hackathon" produced in partnership with TNOOZ focusing on artificial intelligence and emerging technologies in hospitality.For more information and to register or sponsor, please visit AustinHEDNA.com.About 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.

2018 HEDNA Conference in Austin Attracts Global Industry Leaders and Attendees

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 19 December 2017
HEDNA (the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is gearing up to host the Global Distribution Conference from January 29 through the 31, 2018. Leaders and experts from across the globe will meet in Austin, Texas for three days of technology and industry-focused keynotes, networking, breakout sessions and discussions.Innovation in Technology is the theme of this year's conference and the action packaged agenda is set to deliver the most comprehensive information, insights, and dialogue on emerging trends that impact the hotel industry. Across the educational tracks at the event, each session will present a snapshot of the most transformative ideas shaping the future of hotel distribution from tech industry leaders, hoteliers, entrepreneurs, executives, influencers and more. HEDNA, in cooperation with Tnooz, is also organizing and producing a "Hackathon" focusing on AI and emerging technologies in Hospitality.On its way to selling out, the conference has attracted top delegates from hotel chains, multi-properties, independents, management companies, technology innovators and many others. Attendees and sponsors include:HiltonWyndham HotelsHomeAwayExpediaInterContinental Hotel GroupDisneyMGMDuettoWorldPayOnyx CenterSourceMarriottCitizenM HotelsOmni HotelsSnapShotIDeaSTriometricsDHISCOPegasus SolutionsDataArt TravelhospitalityPulseCloudbedsDerbySoftKognitivSabre Hospitality SolutionsWEXLeonardoReviewPro"This is an incredibly dynamic time in our industry," said Sarah Fults, president of HEDNA. "It's vital that we engage in meaningful discussions and collaboration. This conference provides an amazing opportunity to do that. We are so proud to be attracting such great hotel and technology companies who are all focused on advancing the hotel distribution landscape."Another highlight of the event is the Innov8 session. During this interactive forum, eight leading professionals from our industry will share their innovations in eight-minute engaging presentations. Best of all, this year an award will be presented on the last evening of the conference to the best Innov8or.For more information and to register or sponsor, please visit AustinHEDNA.com.About Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA)HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whoseworldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in thehospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancinghospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to beknown for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development inthe global hospitality industry. For more, visit www.HEDNA.org.HEDNA CONTACT:Ann CramptonHEDNA Associate Director529 14th Street, NW, Suite 750Washington, DC 20045T +1 202 204 8400acrampton@hedna.org

HEDNA Data Analytics Survey Generates Significant Industry Response, Results to be Presented at Austin Conference in January

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 30 November 2017
After launching its Hotel Analytics Working Group Survey only six weeks ago, HEDNA (the Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) today announced a record-breaking first completion rate of over 1100 participants, who represent 45,000 hotels based on the submissions from international chains, hotel groups and independent hotels. The results of the comprehensive study will be presented at HEDNA's upcoming conference with plans to keep the survey open until Summer 2018.For more information and to register for HEDNA's Global Distribution Conference taking place January 29-31st in Austin, Texas, please visit AustinHEDNA.com.HEDNA's Hotel Analytics Working Group, co-chaired by David Turnbull (Co-Founder, SnapShot) and Matthew Goulden (CEO, Triometric) designed the survey to host a broad range of questions related to how hotels manage their data, including critical topics like the impact of integrations, cost of distribution and data reliability. The impressive sample size will enable solid analysis of identified trends, positive factors as well as efficiency shortfalls and opportunities to optimize channel mix and other operational areas. The success of the quality and quantity of respondents to the survey further underpins HEDNA's leadership position, at a time when data across all industries is increasingly vital to competitive survival.Sarah Fults, president of HEDNA, commented "With global coverage across many different categories, this survey represents one of the largest respondent samples in the industry. With the support of our members and Allied members, we were able to reach and gain valuable insights from hotels chains, multi-properties, independents, management companies and many others. We are keeping this survey open to gather as much input from hoteliers as we possibly can. Our goal is to bring together hoteliers and trusted partners to identify the facts that define the distribution landscape today and HEDNA is proud to be focusing one of our working groups on this important effort."HEDNA's leadership will leverage the insights to develop unique global and regional perspectives on how data is collected, stored and used from a distribution perspective. The first wave of these results is now being converted into actionable best practice guidelines to educate hotels globally on how best to use their data to optimize both the hotel's profit potential and long-term asset value."It is now more imperative than ever to fully embrace the data that impacts the hotel industry on a daily basis," stated Rajesh Vohra, Managing Director of Sarova Hotels. "The challenges that hoteliers face in managing not only their distribution strategy but fully understanding the costs associated with distribution and 3rd party interactions needs to be met head-on. Having an association like HEDNA targeting this challenge and helping the industry implement best practices is welcomed."Anyone wishing to participate in the survey should visit via https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/HEDNA-analytics-survey. To learn more about the HEDNA Analytics Working Group, visit hedna.org/hotelanalytics_wgc.About Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association (HEDNA)HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is a not-for-profit trade association whoseworldwide membership includes executives and managers from the most influential companies in thehospitality industry. Founded in 1991, HEDNA's mission is to be the leading global forum for advancinghospitality distribution through collaboration and knowledge sharing. Its vision calls for HEDNA to beknown for creating an environment that fosters strategic collaboration toward business development inthe global hospitality industry. For more, visit www.HEDNA.org.HEDNA CONTACT:Ann CramptonHEDNA Associate Director529 14th Street, NW, Suite 750Washington, DC 20045T +1 202 204 8400acrampton@hedna.org

Puzzle Partner and HEDNA Join Forces to Deliver Quality Content for the Hotel Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 9 November 2017
Leading travel and hospitality technology marketing agency Puzzle Partner, today announced their latest alliance with HEDNA, a global forum dedicated to the advancement of hospitality distribution anchored by a fundamental belief in strategic collaboration and knowledge sharing. HEDNA is making bold moves to lead the category and is looking to Puzzle Partner to support their initiatives and help take the association's industry impact to the next level.Puzzle Partner will be distilling and condensing working group content to ensure that HEDNA members are receiving valuable updates tailored to their needs and business, which will, in turn, also assist in driving membership for the association on a larger scale. The agency will utilize their team of writers, each with significant proficiency and insights relating to the hotel industry, to support the content and delivery of HEDNA specific publications. With the onset of this new engagement, Puzzle Partner continues to expand its reputation as the preferred marketing agency and content provider for the travel, tourism and hotel industry."The HEDNA community creates critical, relevant content that benefits everyone in hospitality and Puzzle Partner is the right choice for us as we broaden our scope," said Sarah Fults, President of HEDNA. "It is now even more imperative that hoteliers worldwide be fully aware and educated on the dynamics of hotel distribution so that they can make the best strategic decisions regarding where and how they sell their rooms inventory."HEDNA encourages an open exchange of information, continued professional development amongst members and the global conferences focused on the latest trends and dialogue in hotel distribution. This variety of expertise lends itself to the continuous advancement of member education, a core concept which HEDNA is focused on. The non-profit organization will be hosting its next Global Distribution Conference in Austin, Texas from January 29th-31st. The event is a renowned international networking opportunity dedicated to sharing the latest information, insights, and dialogue on emerging trends that impact the hotel industry. Sessions run during the conference will provide participants with the very best in transformative ideas and information as they relate to hotel distribution, shared by industry leaders, entrepreneurs, executives, influencers and more.Alan Young, president of Puzzle Partner, adds, "The delivery of top-tier content to specific hotel-centric outlets and social networks will deliver greater brand and working group visibility, an on-going benefit to both the association and its members. We are honored to be working with the talented team at HEDNA to inspire hoteliers and very much looking forward to a very successful long-term relationship."For more information about Puzzle Partner, visit puzzlepartner.co.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency focused exclusively on complex B2B initiatives for the travel and hospitality technology industry. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering influential content, marketing services, and public relations rooted in the skills of our team and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.About HEDNAHEDNA (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 HEDNA.org.
Article by Alan Young

The Impact - And Importance - Of Virtual Reality in the Hotel Industry

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 12 May 2017
AR essentially takes virtual reality (VR) to the next level. Instead of immersing users in a different world, AR superimposes digital content over the real world. AR captured the world's attention with the success of Pokemon Go in the summer of 2016. Pokemon Go is a game where players hunt and capture Pokemon, tiny virtual creatures, that are hiding in real-world locations and visible only in a smartphone camera view.According to a recent Phocuswright analysis, "Tech's Fourth Wave Meets Travel," travel companies and hotels can learn a lot about future opportunities associated with AR from the Pokemon Go phenomenon, including the ability to engage guests, generate demand, and how the virtual world inspires real-world action that can translate into real revenue. And with investors pouring $2.3 billion into VR/AR startups, this immersive tech is set for rapid growth.Hotels from big brands to budget boutiques are slowly entering the AR arena. While big brands may use expensive connected glasses or mounted headsets such as Microsoft's HoloLens, many hotels rely on proprietary apps and AR-enabled smartphone browsers to do the heavy lifting. Users can aim their phone camera at a point of interest to receive images along with added information. Implementing an AR strategy using smartphones is an effective plan for hoteliers considering that 43 percent of tech-loving Millennials are on their phones every five minutes, 83 percent sleep with them, and now at 83.1 million strong, Millennials are poised to become the biggest customer segment for hotels worldwide.Hotels must step up their "technological game" if they hope to differentiate themselves and engage with this lucrative market. Let's look at some key ways AR technology will impact the hotel industry.Booking Rooms. AR technology will allow potential guests to explore rooms before they book. Travelers will be right there inside the room to see exactly what different sizes and floor plans are available. Potential guests may be persuaded to upgrade to a suite by seeing the additional amenities, incredible views and how spacious it is.Exploring the property. Instead of relying on website images and ordinary paper brochures, potential visitors will learn what a hotel stay "feels" like. Through interactive experiences, travelers can virtually visit a hotel's restaurant, spa or fitness center. An eco-friendly hotel might take users on a virtual tour of its rooftop herb garden or show off green building materials, helping to build customer loyalty. The Mansion at Casa Madrona uses an augmented, printed brochure that can be scanned to immerse the user in the luxurious property.Restaurant experiences. Hoteliers can embed AR content on their restaurant menu, enabling non-native guests to read it in their own language. Taking this a step further, imagine a guest sitting in a hotel restaurant and being able to get suggested drink pairings, read customer reviews and watch how the chef prepares the dish they're considering ordering. At the Inamo restaurant in London, AR images are projected onto the tables letting guests choose their own table theme.Local attractions. Guests often choose their hotel based on its proximity to area attractions. AR tech will not only allow users to view a hotel location but can also recreate significant historical events or cultural experiences of nearby destinations. Hoteliers could add an AR feature to their existing proprietary apps similar to "Paris, Then and Now" which shows users what different sites in Paris looked like in the past, based on where they're standing. Or guests can virtually try a local activity, such as a hang-gliding adventure, before choosing to go. In addition, opportunities for the hotel to advertise other services grows the longer a guest spends interacting with their app.Marketing. Hotels can leverage AR tech on their website or billboards placed in airports and high-traffic areas. Scanning through a smartphone camera will trigger images and information about the hotel. A beachside resort may entice potential visitors by immersing them in a video from the viewpoint of a guest lounging in the sun while sipping a cocktail, a promotion for their happy hour drinks hovering in the foreground. AR will increase guest satisfaction as well because they'll know what to expect before they book.Hotel Management. AR will also impact business and back-of-house operations. The advanced tech can bring blueprints and artist renderings to life, letting potential investors clearly envision the end result. And in the realm of staff training, hotels can create real-life scenarios that teach skills and help employees more effectively interact with guests.Although the AR trend for hotels is still in its early stages, it may not be long before cutting-edge virtual environments that include the feel of ocean breezes or the scent of cooking food become mainstream. The rapid adoption of Pokemon Go demonstrates how ready people are to embrace this innovative new tech trend, and hotels that ignore it will find themselves left behind. It's clear that AR has a profound role to play in the future of the hotel industry.
Article by Alan Young

The Travel Booking Conundrum: Closing the Gap Between Browsing and Transacting on Mobile

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 7 March 2017
During the summer of 2016, Puzzle Partner was lucky enough to become a business partner with Phocuswright, the unrivaled leader in travel intelligence and research. In their latest report titled "U.S. Mobile Shipping and Booking," Phocuswright addresses one of the biggest challenges for travel and hospitality brands in today's mobile-centric world; how to ensure that consumers book trips and hotels after their search process is completed and that they finalize their booking where they searched - using the mobile app.In this insightful report, there is some incredible information that every company in the travel industry yearning to perfect their booking technology delivery mechanism should understand. Three key elements reviewed in this research are:How travelers shop and bookWhere they shop and bookWhy they book on mobileOne of the most interesting facts derived from this study is that people booking hotels using mobile devices has actually slipped over the past year. Air shopping and booking have too declined from 2015 to 2016. In terms of the marketing funnel, the digitally connected travel shopper is using the mobile channel for the awareness and interest stage in their buyer journey. How is this possible?We see the impact of mobile use and its direct effect on buying in many areas of commerce. In fact, from 2014 to 2015 there was a 174% increase in mobile usage during the Black Friday sales*. The article from digitalturbine.com referenced below also pointed out that, in the retail sector, 88% of people use retail apps and for every four users that install a new retail app, one person purchased an item within the first 24 hours. Also, one in every three shoppers used their phone to make a purchase during Black Friday. These stats suggest that this area appears to be moving along at quite am impressive pace.So back to the original question. How and why is there a decline in mobile shopping and booking for travel and hotels? One of the underlying factors behind the slight dip is the changing mobile traveler population. In the past it skewed heavily younger toward millennials, but more older travelers start to acquire and use smartphones for some aspects of travel, but not booking. This is a natural cycle in how populations adopt new technology. Makes sense. The online travel purchaser is now getting older, and this will impact habit and behavior. We will even see this propensity become more prominent as time goes on.Smartphone shoppers tend to visit more sites to gather their information, and they are quite a bit younger. One in five smartphone shoppers are between 18 and 24, and they are not brand loyal. This is a huge concern for brands, and they will most assuredly be addressing this issue as a top priority ASAP. It also appears that airlines carry more clout than hotel brands as smartphone users are more likely to purchase tickets directly via the airlines brand.com, whereas they turn to OTAs to purchase hotel rooms. It seems that younger people prefer to book travel using mobile devices because they are comfortable using their smartphone to do everything for them. It's their social connection tool, their email repository, their internet browser, their gaming devices, their camera and yes, it also works as a phone.So how do companies selling travel online ensure that all the money they have spent on mobile booking apps do not go to waste? By understanding the types of traveler personas and ensuring that their messages are segmented based on these personas. It is clear that age needs to be a consideration, however personas can change based on the type of travel being booked. Is the trip for business or leisure? Are they traveling alone or with family? The list goes on and on. We need to recognize the unique nature of mobile, both in terms of the technologies at play and the shoppers' journey. Those who can bridge the gap, offering a seamless, cross-device booking environment will be able to attract more loyal, valuable omni-channel customers. What's important is giving travelers what they really want: instant, relevant information no matter where they are or what device they're using.We may see these trends change over time, but one thing is for sure, the population is definitely getting older.
Article by Alan Young

Enough Room for Everyone? How Hotels are Meeting the Airbnb Challenge

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 1 March 2017
Everybody has a place to live. And thanks to Airbnb and other rent-by-owner sites, everybody can turn their spare room into a moneymaking short-term rental. In the taxi industry, this sharing model let Uber crush the cab companies.The situation isn't that dire for hotels, yet; consumers are more likely to take a chance on an unknown provider for a 15-minute car ride than for a five-night stay. That doesn't mean hotels don't have to take the new competition seriously, however. Airbnb's $30 billion valuation is now larger than that of any of its hotel competitors--without owning a single physical property.The threat to traditional hotels is likely to increase as Millennial travelers come to dominate; this generation reached their twenties and started planning their own vacations just as Airbnb started up. Their limited budgets and craving of unique experiences made Airbnb a natural fit for them, plus they prefer the easy online booking, even via mobile devices, that Airbnb offers. A survey by Hipmunk found that 44 percent of Millennials prefer rentals to hotels.Combine that with the American Express report that more Millennials plan to increase travel frequency compared to Boomers (52.8 percent vs. 32.1 percent) and more Millennials plan to increase their travel spending compared to Boomers as well (58 percent vs. 41.3 percent), and the significance of the challenge becomes obvious.Hotels are taking a multi-faceted approach to tackling this challenge. The four main strategies are:Block. Not everybody is happy when their neighbor turns a home into a hotel, and many communities aren't happy about owners who don't collect hotel taxes. Local regulations in major destinations like New York City prohibit short-term apartment rentals, and new laws that impose serious fines may force some listings off the market. While the hotels haven't filed legal action themselves, they've partnered with organizations that oppose Airbnb and run social media and other advertising campaigns in support of restrictions, as well as speaking up at planning commission meetings and other public hearings.Compete in the traditional hotel market. Hotels are attempting to compete with Airbnb in two ways. First, by emphasizing the features that distinguish a hotel from an Airbnb property, and second, by integrating the Airbnb features travelers are seeking into their hotels.There are some travel sectors where hotels naturally have an advantage over Airbnb. It's difficult for Airbnb to match hotels' ability to offer blocks of rooms for meetings or group travel. Business travelers want a consistent level of service, and high-end luxury travelers want responsive, sophisticated service. Although Airbnb is attempting to compete in these markets, they can't yet offer the level of service provided by traditional hotels.Other benefits hotels emphasize are their 24-hours of operation--customers don't have to worry about meeting the owner to pick up the key if their flight is delayed or how to get help if the toilet backs up--as well as security and compliance with safety regulations. Hotel loyalty programs help draw repeat business.To attract customers who want the unique, personalized experience of staying in an Airbnb property, hotels are working to individualize their properties so they feel more boutique. Some hotels are now offering original guidebooks written by locals, while chains are creating collections of properties, like Hilton Curio, where the hotels are distinctive rather than cookie-cutter.Compete in the short-term rental market. Some hotel chains are competing against Airbnb on Airbnb's turf. Accor acquired onefinestay, which lists upscale homes, and the hotel chain is providing concierge services to the listed properties. Another chain moving into home rentals is Choice Hotels, which offers Vacation Rentals by Choice Hotels. Stays at Choice's vacation properties earn points in the hotel's loyalty program, and points can be used to book either hotel or vacation rental stays.Don't compete; partner. For some hotels, the solution to competing with Airbnb is to partner with the company rather than compete against it. Several smaller hotels now list their rooms on Airbnb's site. For these hotels, Airbnb's reservation fee, which is smaller than the fee charged by major hotel booking sites, makes working with Airbnb attractive. In some cases, hotels provide check-in services for Airbnb properties and allow Airbnb guests access to their amenities, blurring the lines between hotel and short-term rental stays.For hotels, the challenge of Airbnb is real, but not yet fatal. Revenue per available room has increased over the past few years despite all the additional capacity from the sharing economy, and forecasts call for continued growth of close to 4 percent in 2017. With innovative approaches to hospitality spurred by the new competition, hotels are likely to continue to thrive.

Make your digital marketing sustainable with evergreen content

Puzzle Partner Ltd. By Alan Young
Evergreen content is content that continues to be relevant to your audience well after it is first published. Alan Young, CEO and Co-Founder of Puzzle Partner Ltd., explains how to maximize the effectiveness of this timeless, and highly valuable, content.

Puzzle Partner Signs Hotel Technology Innovator hospitalityPulse as New Client

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 15 February 2017
Leading B2B travel and hospitality technology marketing agency Puzzle Partner announced today that it has been named agency of record (AOR) for hospitalityPulse, the innovative hotel technology company based in Santa Cruz, California. Puzzle Partner will support hospitalityPulse through strategic and tactical marketing initiatives, including messaging, communications, public relations, and content development.After a thorough search, hospitalityPulse selected Puzzle Partner based on the firm's industry focus and success in working with such notable travel technology brands as StayNTouch, TripCraft, NAVIS, Groupize, and Umapped. "You need a company at your side that not only understands our industry but also has a firm footing in the underlying technology," explains Pierre Boettner, CEO of hospitalityPulse. "It is clear that Puzzle Partner 'gets the industry' and how hoteliers think, and is in the unique position to help take our business to the next level. It was also critical for us to identify an agency that understood the complex B2B sales cycle to attract, engage, nurture and deliver qualified leads. The partnership with Puzzle Partner is off to a strong start, and I am confident that their expertise will help ensure that there's no limit for the future of our company."Founded in 2013, hospitalityPulse is a visionary solution, designed and engineered by hospitality technologists to solve one of the most complex and multi-dimensional problems plaguing hoteliers and their guests. The patent-pending solution ensures optimal room assignment at all times to all guests, and specifically those most valuable to the chain, the brand and hotel management, driving guest loyalty and spend. Too often the issue of incorrect room allocation has a detrimental impact on the hotel and its brand. hospitalityPulse understands that these errors occur from the booking process through the fulfillment process. The challenges of improper room assignment, when faced with direct, OTA and 3rd party booking channels, increases exponentially."hospitalityPulse is an industry pioneer, with a forward-thinking leadership team that has a great deal of experience within the hotel technology space," said Puzzle Partner President, Alan Young. "Pierre and his team are taking on a very definite problem that hoteliers face every day. Their focus and passion for fixing this costly and disruptive issue using sophisticated algorithms and machine learning keep everyone pointed in the right direction. We are honored to be able to contribute to their evolution and further solidify their market leadership position."This announcement comes on the heels of several other new business wins for Puzzle Partner, who continues to expand its roster of top-tier clients and strategic partnerships including the unrivaled provider of travel, tourism and hospitality market research Phocuswright.For more information about Puzzle Partner, visit puzzlepartner.co.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency focused exclusively on complex B2B initiatives for the travel and hospitality technology industry. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering persuasive marketing content, services and public relations - rooted in the skills of our team and tested through real-world experience - we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.About hospitalityPulsehospitalityPulse was designed by hotel technology and operations veterans tackling one of the most difficult problems hotels are facing: Room Assignment. Our patent-pending optimization mathematical modeling process, combined with an intuitive user interface, is helping hoteliers assign the most optimal room for every guest, every time, with consistent efficiency. Using the multi-dimensional roomPulse inventory engine, hoteliers can automate room assignments to streamline check-in. roomPulse dynamically optimizes each room assignment in real time, all the time. Visit us at www.hospitalitypulse.com.
Article by Alan Young

An Insider's Irreverent Guide to Travel in 2017

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 19 December 2016
It's been a heck of a year, hasn't it? Most of us are ready to say a big Sayonara! to the hangover that 2016 has become. But really, on the whole, the travel industry had a pretty solid year. While next year doesn't register signs of dramatic growth in the number of travelers, it does appear that travelers will spend more when they do travel.[i] Capturing that revenue will be more important than ever with the uncertain political and economic landscapes. Here's where the opportunities are in 2017 to grab some of that market share:"Get the heck out of dodge" takes on a new meaningWe know travel is about getting away from it, but this year, travelers mean business. Travelers desire the feeling of escape more than ever. And even if the destination isn't obscure, the journey may be, with unusual attractions and restaurants on the itinerary. As travelers search for hidden treasures, I'm guessing this is the year of even more interest in off-the-beaten-path vacation rentals and indie hotels.Travelers become more patientIf there's a level of service higher than on demand, aim for that, because travelers want it two minutes before they even knew they wanted it. It's not fair to put this all on travelers. It's more on the travel industry to respond to something that other industries have already embraced. What on-demand service amounts to at this point is just rethinking processes that have previously been time-consuming that we all know don't have to be. Check-in and room keys, for instance. If Amazon can open a storefront that doesn't require human staff, travelers know that they shouldn't have to stand in line to do something as simple as saying they've arrived. Airlines, hotels et al - it's time to "make it work!" What is more local than local?I'm honestly not sure how much more local "local travel" can get, but we're an intense bunch in this industry. I am sure we can find a way to put local on steroids. Perhaps travelers can sleep on a local's sofa and pick their own dinner from the backyard garden? Seriously, though, Airbnb's November launch of Trips is just one example of the industry responding to traveler desires for increasingly local experiences. And it's not just millennials who want real, local experiences. Turns out Baby Boomers are trending local, too, with 50% reporting they want to dine with locals while traveling and 40% reporting they want to tour with a local.[ii]Your Aunt Ethel's not the only one hearing voices anymoreWake words and IFTTT (If This Then That) are quickly becoming a part of our lexicon. In fact over half of iPhone users use voice recognition, and the number is growing.[iii] Just a couple of days ago Wynn Las Vegas announced each guestroom will have an Amazon Echo, and Apple is on a mission to transform Siri into a direct competitor with Alexa. My point is that the more we embrace voice recognition technology and artificial intelligence, the more it will change the way travelers plan, search, and buy. This means that as an industry, we will need to shift the way we market to travelers.Bleisure? Framily? These terms don't matter. Here's what does. Am I the only person who finds the new word mashups like bleisure a bit annoying? Honestly, we don't need these awkward terms to describe the way people travel. What we need are systems that capture data about travelers and then market to them predictively. Sure, trends are useful to understand, but the capability to understand your individual travelers and their desires and habits exists. Just use the expensive technology you, no doubt, already have at your disposal instead of marketing packages based on some broad idea that the industry threw out there.There's plenty more for me to go on about--bots, distribution, the very real unpredictability of what will happen with travelers this year given the political climate. But what's more important is keeping a close eye on all the microevolutions in the industry and staying on top of technology adoption. Don't let trends like voice recognition or artificial intelligence intimidate you. Instead, read up, hire the right travel technology strategic advisors, and, more than anything, know your travelers and how they are evolving and use that knowledge.[i] Choice 2017 Outlook. HotelNewsNow.com. December 2016.[ii] AARP Travel Research: 2017 Travel Trends. November 2016.[iii] Almost 40% of US Smartphone Users Use Voice Recognition. Parks Associates. Jan 2016.About Puzzle Partner Ltd.Puzzle Partner is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.
Article by Alan Young

2016 Phocuswright Conference: Top Picks for Presentations and Exhibitors

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 9 November 2016
The annual Phocuswright Conference has become the epicenter for travel innovation, providing an exceptional forum for global travel executives to discover and discuss the latest trends and opportunities reshaping the travel landscape. This year's event has a line-up of intriguing presentations from top-shelf visionaries, along with some of the most exciting exhibitors from around the world. One of my favorite segments is The Innovation Summit, where companies battle it out on stage to pitch, demonstrate and face off with the Phocuswright Dragons, a panel of the industry's most informed insiders.Known for its exhilarating atmosphere, the Phocuswright Conference has proven to be one of the most influential travel technology events for more than 20 years. Here are some of my 'can't miss' picks for the upcoming event.Learning From Thought LeadersAirbnb is certainly one of the most disruptive companies out there, and I'm really looking forward to the presentation by Chip Conley, Airbnb's Head of Global Hospitality & Strategy. As a highly respected business leader and author, Conley's attendance promises to offer insights into the future direction for private accommodation and the many challenges that lie ahead in this rapidly evolving landscape.Philippe Chereque, President, American Express Global Business Travel, is focused on modernizing the company's IT in the direction of cloud computing while capitalizing on analytics. Since joining the company two years ago, he has been working on increasing the proactive care for its customers. The company developed an application that automatically sends an SMS text message to travelers when an incident occurs, to meet the increased importance that its corporate customers place on the duty of care. It will be fascinating to learn about the latest concepts coming from Chereque, who has said that "the traveler is the key."Booking.com's position as the world's largest seller of accommodations ensures that the executive interview with the company's CEO Gillian Tans will be a fascinating component of this year's conference. Over the past 14 years, Tans has been an instrumental force in expanding the company to become a global leader in the travel space. Titled "It's All About the Booking," the interview promises to provide insights into hotel direct, travel tech, and the future direction of Booking.com.As the president and CEO of Expedia Inc., Dara Khosrowshahi has led the firm to become one of the largest online travel companies in the world. His executive interview, cheekily titled "Expedia Eats the World," is another must-see event at this year's Phocuswright Conference. Expedia Inc.'s massive footprint includes the operation of more than 150 travel booking sites in over 70 countries around the world. Its extensive portfolio of online travel brands includes Expedia, Hotels.com, Travelocity, trivago, and Egencia. Khosrowshahi's focus on driving innovation and positioning the Expedia brand for future global growth is evident from his success with the company, and I expect his interview to cover a broad range of exciting topics in the travel space.Industry Innovators And DisruptorsIn addition to the opportunity to learn from the top influencers, Phocuswright is an exceptional place to be exposed to highly pioneering brands and technologies that are breaking new ground the market.Airmule was founded in 2015 in Los Angeles to provide a method for people to earn money with their extra luggage space. Promising "affordable express shipping worldwide with trusted travelers," the company's tagline suggests that its potential customers can "ship with people, not boxes." Using the Airmule app, individuals who want to ship something find others who have listed upcoming trips they're taking, and they connect in the app to discuss package details. The two parties then meet to hand off the item, and the sender can track their packages and receive real-time notifications until the item arrives at its destination.Luna provides what it calls "a wedding planner for your honeymoon." The company's web application aims to enhance the online travel-planning experience by providing a collaborative environment where ideas can be shared in real time. The platform also offers pre-designed itineraries to make it easier to plan a honeymoon, while allowing couples to customize the trip to make it suit their particular interests. Luna also provides the ability to chat with its experts to receive assistance in coming up with the perfect getaway for two.Travel Appeal claims to assist hospitality managers with the complex tasks of controlling their reputation and providing exceptional customer service. The company has developed an algorithm that collects, evaluates and calculates the importance of data and subsequently rates each component from zero to one hundred. The platform is intended to save hospitality managers' time by analyzing reviews and posts, monitoring price trends and moves by competitors, and evaluating the quality of web and social media communication, while generating insightful reports to offer methods for improving overall reputation and customer service.Umapped offers the latest in collaborative itinerary and experience management for the travel industry. Available as a white-label or API solution, the platform delivers interactive, media-rich consolidated mobile itineraries with relevant offers, content, messaging and advice to travelers. Umapped helps travel brands, and advisors engage with their customers throughout their travel journey and maximizes productivity by streamlining business workflow. These are just a few of the speakers and companies that will be worth checking out at the event and represent only a small sample of the many inspirational presenters and trendsetters that I look forward to learning more about. If you are going to be at the Phocuswright Conference in LA and would like to connect, please reach out to me on LinkedIn.
Article by Alan Young

Google Trips: A Step in the Right Direction- But Only a Step

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 13 October 2016
Google Trips got a good bit of attention on its recent release in September, but I'm not sure I understand the fanfare. Per Forbes, Google Trips is a "fantastic... travel app you should download now." Many hail it as a personalized travel app, but I'd argue it's not quite there, yet.Here's what it can do. It scours my email to find itineraries and provides quick access to the original emails if I need them. Handy. It keeps my car rental details right there along with the air itineraries. I like this, except I mostly Uber these days. The best part of any of this is that it's available even when I don't have Wi-Fi, which isn't all that often anymore. I'd argue that Google Trips make travel more mobile-friendly.Otherwise, though, Google Trips is basically a smart destination guide. Using a combination of attractions that I select and my search history, Google Trips will craft attraction itineraries guessing at what my interests are. It's a nice feature.But not necessarily innovative.It's a useful tool that integrates some data, but it would be more helpful if it understood that I'm the kind of leisure traveler who flies into a major city, spends one or two nights then heads to the country. It isn't able to pick up much in the way of reservations outside of major cities as far as I can tell, and it definitely doesn't do attractions and restaurants. Not yet at least.What would be a game-changer is to make it more personal. Google Trips is on the cusp of doing this with the itineraries feature, but it must go further than this. It needs to understand how I travel more than it needs to understand what I like to do. What would be useful is to have the app locate where I am and design opportunities for me to get from point A to Point B. For instance, given Google's mapping capabilities, it could tell me which train station I'm closest to when I request an Uber, so I know where to go, or the easiest way to get from mid-town Manhattan to the Upper West side based on where I'm standing.My point is that Google Trips is a step in the right direction, but it's just that, a step. It's not going to revolutionize leisure travel in its current form (nor do I think that was the intent but the media seemed to think it was revolutionary).Where it has the potential to make waves is in shifting our data reliance as travelers. Should we choose to engage with it, it will incrementally give Google more power over our information by encouraging us to rely on Google, Gmail, Maps, Local, etc. more than we do other sources so that we can integrate with Google Trips. Most of us are already reliant on Google for a great deal, but in bits and pieces, it may shift travelers away from aggregators and reviews sites toward Google. Moreover, when Google follows with a booking engine, for instance, the industry might actually feel it this time.Oliver Heckman, VP of Engineering for Google Travel, said that the "master plan is to be the connector that builds awesome travel experiences, qualifies users and then sends them off to the right partners," but he also mentioned that this could eventually look like helping travelers plan and book travel. While this might not occur through Google Trips, it could in an adjacent, integrated app, such as Allo.At this point, I'll use it to get to my travel details. And maybe it's possible that when I'm in the app trying to get to my confirmation number for the millionth time, I'll use Google Local for attractions and restaurants or reviews. Maybe I'll end up skipping the TripAdvisor step eventually, which I suspect was Google's goal.There was some initial stock kick back in the industry among TripAdvisor, Expedia, and Priceline, but Google Trips doesn't really pose a grave risk until it ratchets up the kind of data it integrates so that it can personalize to the traveler, understanding who the traveler is, not what the traveler wants to do. If enough travelers engage with the app, this is likely, but I question how many travelers will rely on it in its current form.
Article by Alan Young

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: What will be the Impact on The Travel Industry?

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 5 October 2016
There has been a great deal of "news" in our industry regarding the implementation and adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) within the travel industry.How will this happen and what will the adoption rate look like? More importantly, in a service based industry, what percentage of traveler will be open to this new wave of technology and who will dismiss it?The emergence of cloud and cluster technology enables the wide implementation of AI and Machine Learning. One of the most obvious choices for this new technology to be adopted is within the B2B framework of our industry. Revenue Management platforms that are being delivered to their clients using the cloud can now make recommendations to both airline and hotel companies based upon a huge amount of data. This data can be sliced and diced and then refactored to help the attributed users of RMS to make the proper pricing decisions on the fly. Now, don't get me wrong, I still think that even though this is indeed capable, it will take a little while for Revenue Managers and their respective companies to just "set it and forget it."Virtual assistants are at the core of AI adoption. Siri, Amazon's Alexa, Google Now and the highest profile solution, IBM's Watson, will become the next evolutionary step in the delivery of service within the hotel industry. The explosion of knowledge that the hotel and travel industry is now able to sift through enables these platforms to become highly intuitive and thus highly leveraged.Skift outlined within an article back in July 2016 that there are a number of startups looking to leverage AI and Machine Learning to change the way service is delivered, or data is consumed and then refactored. These companies include GuestU, Exa, SnapTravel, 30 Seconds To Fly and HelloGbye. Some of the companies are leveraging platforms already in existence, and some are creating chatbots to book the right room or to help out with corporate travel. I am positive there are more out there - however like most startups - they will need the capital to succeed, followed by the speedy and widespread adoption of the solutions. We'll see.In a recent New York Times article, there was a delicious discussion regarding Google and how it is investing resources and money to develop what the author of the article called "Turning the Google Assistant into a 'Star Trek' computer. This is pretty mind-blowing if you think about it. The 'Star Trek' computer can do anything. Anything at all! Imagine having a personal assistant to help with deciding where to go, booking travel, purchasing just the right outfit for the trip and also notifying friends, etc. about your upcoming excursion. Then, if there are any disruptions along the way, the assistant will take care of things for you and help you along the way. The opportunities to implement AI and machine learning are boundless.AI and machine learning technology will take some time to become widely adopted by both the companies that are good targets for these platforms, as well as the end user. However, you can rest assured that this level of advanced data gathering, analysis and the instant return of applicable answers and solutions will only continue to develop and grow, until one day, we may all have our very own personal 'humanoid' assistants like Sophia, Hanson Robotic's latest robotic creation, introduced at SXSW.So what do you think? Will Sophia and her robotic cousins someday bring about a Terminator-style Judgment Day?
Article by Alan Young

R.I.P. Startups: Why 90% of Travel Technology Startups Fail

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 5 August 2016
One of the hardest truths for entrepreneurs to accept is that as many as nine out of ten startups will fail. In an ecosystem full of enthusiasm and optimism, this harsh reality can be difficult to swallow. However, the fact remains that only a small percentage of travel technology startups actually manage to become viable businesses in the long-term. My biggest frustration is companies that are 'walking zombies'. They do not know they are dead and cling on long after they should have called it quits.At the same time, companies can greatly increase their chances for success by focusing their attention on the things that really matter.Identify A Market Need The most common reason that travel technology startups fail is due to a lack of market need. Although it may seem to be an obvious consideration, many entrepreneurs jump into development without effectively thinking through this essential first step. This can at times be called the "bright shiny object syndrome". The startup has a great idea and then runs with it without truly understanding if there is a need.In order to achieve success, a startup must solve a pain point in the market in a scalable way. Unfortunately, many companies don't focus enough on the viability of attracting potential customers, and instead center their strategy around the product itself. While it is certainly essential to develop an exceptional product, the concept must first be validated with potential customers to ensure that there is a market need. The reality is that many travel technology startups attempt to tackle problems that are interesting to solve rather than providing a product that fills a gap in the marketplace.Differentiate from Competition There is no question that the travel tech industry is highly competitive. When analyzing the companies that have been able to scale greatly, they generally either developed something new where there was a void in the market, or they built something that was much better than what was currently available.Some of the most successful startups, such as Airbnb and Uber, have managed to expand the market on the supply side in order to create new demand for their services. As an example, Airbnb has expanded the accommodation and hospitality market by enabling people to open up their homes to guests. This model provides travelers with new lodging options that are often significantly cheaper than staying at a typical hotel, while keeping the expenses low for Airbnb, as the company doesn't spend any resources on managing the properties.Although it is certainly challenging to determine whether or not a disruptive idea such as Airbnb has the potential to make money, the company's ability to expand the market greatly increased its chances for success.Adapt to The Changing Landscape Modern consumers have extremely high expectations for usability, convenience and immediate information. In order to achieve long-term success, startups must design their systems to be able to adapt to the evolving landscape with flexibility in both the back-end and user interface of their platform.Millennials are a highly sought-after demographic in the travel industry. In general, they are more socially conscious than previous generations and therefore seek out additional information about their purchases. For example, Millennials may want to know whether or not the hotel they'll be staying at in a foreign country pays fair wages to its workers. They are also very likely to be concerned about environmental issues, and may want to utilize as many ecologically-friendly transportation options as possible. Considering the massive amount of money this demographic has to spend on travel, it's certainly worthwhile to pay attention to these preferences when designing a travel technology startup.The Path to Success Although there is a certain amount of luck involved in some travel technology startup success stories, a great deal can be done to increase the long-term growth potential of a new company. The most important factor is ensuring that a startup is either solving a pain point in the market in a scalable way, or providing a significantly better version of a solution that already exists. Once a strong initial plan is in place, it's essential to identify a method to differentiate a company from other competing startups and established players. As the technological and consumer landscapes rapidly evolve, travel tech startups must be able to adapt to meet the growing expectations for convenience and immediacy of information. Companies that are designed with these key factors in mind will be well-positioned to gain initial traction and achieve success in the long-term.
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Cutting Through The Noise: Strategies To Stand Out In The Travel Shopping Journey

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 23 June 2016
Last week I had the opportunity to serve as a panelist on Leonardo's webinar, "Strategies to Thrive in Today's Complex Travel Shopping Journey." In this day and age, it's a topic on every hoteliers mind.The travel industry boasts one of the most complex digital landscapes out there when it comes to consumer browsing and purchasing behavior. Travelers are inundated with a multitude of resources when researching hotels, especially in the 45 days leading up to a purchase. According to Expedia Media Solutions, travelers visit up to 38 travel sites during the travel shopping journey; 15 of which are visited the week of booking!The problem for all hotel marketers is the same; how can I stand out from the noise and win more bookings?This article summarizes much of what I discussed on the webinar, to help hoteliers make a lasting impression on travel shoppers; one that leads to more bookings.Stop selling, start tellingFirst and foremost, focus on the experiences you are delivering to your guests. That is what's going to differentiate you from the crowd. Whether it's the Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, Starwood, or any other hotel brand in your market segment, they all offer the same thing - a bed, a bathroom, sheets and towels. What separates one from the other is the experience. Focus on those things you do exceedingly well. Identify what they are and start talking about them on your website.Remember, it doesn't always come down to the best price. If everyone bought on price, then we'd all be staying at the same $59/night motel. We buy based on perceived value. We buy based on emotion. Sure, you're going to get people that are uber price sensitive, but if you can show prospective guests your value, through great stories and fantastic images, then you have a much better chance of winning their business.3 ingredients to a successful hotel websiteYour website should look to create an emotional connection with travel shoppers, so that even prior to their arrival you have exceeded their expectations. You can do this through engaging content, online reviews and ensuring a simple website navigation.The more engaging your content, the more likely travel shoppers are to stay on your site and book. Your website needs to be inviting and super easy to navigate. My advice is to work with companies that produce websites and booking engines that are incredibly easy to use and navigate. You need to make the booking experiencecompelling for travel shoppers, and easier than on other sites.Another important element, which a lot of hotel websites overlook, is the importance of review content. When you go onto an OTA site or metasearch site, their navigation is primarily the same. However, their use of review content is impressive, and integral in helping travel shoppers make a purchase decision. I would suggest hoteliers start reproducing this review content (aka social proof) on their own proprietary sites. A 2014 study by TripAdvisor and PhoCusWright found that consumers read at least 6-12 travel reviews prior to booking. Don't give them an excuse to leave your website to find the reviews they're looking for. Include online reviews everywhere, especially at checkout.The cultivation effectClient advocacy is becoming incredibly important. Solutions such as Flip.to help grow your organic reach by leveraging your own hotel guests. By sharing their authentic stories about your property with friends and family, you can build a team of advocates who have a massive influence on your hotel's reach and bottom line.Client advocacy solutions like this are also worthwhile for uncovering your true hotel story in the eyes of your guests. For example, you might think that your strongest point of differentiation is your level of service, but your guests might think it's your location. Play to your strengths in the eyes of your ideal guest.Meta-review data is also an excellent source for uncovering your property's strengths. While individual reviews provide specific examples of the guest experience, meta-reviews are based upon the aggregate. For example, "76% of people like this hotel for its location" or "35% really didn't like the pool." This type of data should also be displayed on your website (the good stuff at least). It can also be used to help inform areas for improvement. I believe almost every review content provider or aggregator today has a capability to give you this type of information, so be sure to ask for it and put it on your website.Final thoughtsTravelers go down a long and unpredictable path when it comes to planning and booking a trip. Will they visit a lot of sites during their travel shopping journey? Yes, most likely. But there are ways to stand out and make a lasting impression; one that brings them back to your website with their credit card. The key is engaging content, a simplified user experience, and leveraging social proof like online reviews. It's not rocket science, but you'd be surprised how many hotel marketers aren't doing these basic things. And that's where you can gain an advantage.

Puzzle Partner, Phocuswright Sign Agreement to Deliver Innovative New Content Marketing Program for Travel and Hospitality Technology Brands

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 14 June 2016
Puzzle Partner and Phocuswright today announced a partnership to deliver cutting-edge research and thought leadership content for travel technology brands. The partnership provides access to Phocuswright's research library and Puzzle Partner's marketing expertise, in an effort to help companies grow their market share, increase brand awareness and drive overall revenue."The partnership with Puzzle Partner gives travel brands access to Phocuswright research in an entirely new and creative way," said Pete Comeau, Phocuswright's senior vice president, sales. "Phocuswright's data and analysis of the travel market is unmatched and Puzzle Partner's proven track record of helping build brands makes them the perfect partner for this endeavor. We look forward to working together as we bring new products to the global travel industry."Puzzle Partner and Phocuswright will deliver a unique content program using premium data and analysis from the Phocuswright research library to develop high-level educational articles and white papers. Travel brands can then leverage this content to build engagement and drive leads into their sales funnels."Pulling in an audience with content rather than pushing out endless marketing messages can be incredibly effective," said Alan Young, Puzzle Partner's president. "It helps influence, educate, nurture ongoing conversations, overcome objections, and build long-term loyalty. Our program goes beyond building awareness. It's about action, and it requires a strategy and expert guidance to make it meaningful. Leveraging verified research from a highly-respected source like Phocuswright, and weaving it into an actionable marketing blueprint is the ideal way to increase visibility, communicate trust and connect powerfully to your business goals.""Branded content based on Phocuswright research is exactly what our industry needs," stated Tony D'Astolfo, Phocuswright's managing director. "By communicating thought leadership, companies become part of the conversation early in the customer journey. All too often, companies gather a plethora of data and then don't know what to do with it. Now, with the combined forces of Phocuswright and Puzzle Partner, there is an affordable option to use valuable information in concert with engaging content to deliver relevant information to prospects, partners and customers."To learn more about this content marketing initiative and available packages, please visit www.puzzlepartner.co.ABOUT PHOCUSWRIGHT INC.Phocuswright is the travel industry research authority on how travelers, suppliers and intermediaries connect. Independent, rigorous and unbiased, Phocuswright fosters smart strategic planning, tactical decision-making and organizational effectiveness.Phocuswright delivers qualitative and quantitative research on the evolving dynamics that influence travel, tourism and hospitality distribution. Our marketplace intelligence is the industry standard for segmentation, sizing, forecasting, trends, analysis and consumer travel planning behavior. Every day around the world, senior executives, marketers, strategists and research professionals from all segments of the industry value chain use Phocuswright research for competitive advantage.To complement its primary research in North and Latin America, Europe and Asia, Phocuswright produces several high-profile conferences in the United States, Europe and India, and partners with conferences in China and Singapore. Industry leaders and company analysts bring this intelligence to life by debating issues, sharing ideas and defining the ever-evolving reality of travel commerce.The company is headquartered in the United States with Asia Pacific operations based in India and local analysts on five continents.Phocuswright is a wholly owned subsidiary of Northstar Travel Media, LLC. www.phocuswright.com
Article by Alan Young

HITEC 2016 is Coming! How Attendees and Exhibitors Can Maximize Their Time at the World's Largest Hospitality Technology Event

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 10 May 2016
Attending HITEC 2016 is about more than an introduction to the latest hospitality technology that will impact the industry; it's also a chance to make connections, source new solutions and consultants, prospect for new customers, and even collect competitive intelligence to help your brand remain on the cutting edge. From LG to one-person start-ups, hundreds of companies will demo new products, while, behind-the-scenes, deals and partnerships will be struck.Whether you're heading to the Big Easy as an attendee or plan to showcase your own product in an exhibit, four days can go by in a flash. If you want to maximize your time at HITEC 2016, consider the following tips to help you stay on point during the conference.Optimizing Your Experience as an AttendeeHITEC 2016 kicks off with a full-day of educational seminars on Monday, June 20. Topics range from boot camps on digital strategy and security, to super sessions on new operating/IT models and disruptive business models. A full schedule of events is available to all attendees, but you won't be able to see and do everything. So the question is how do you make the most of your four days?Tip# 1: Plan Before You ArriveUsing the schedule of events, highlight the educational seminars that are must-see and create a personal schedule. For example, if your brand is working on digital visibility and marketing, pencil in time for the Tuesday evening Super Session on the digital customer journey and guest-facing technology.Make sure you attend the educational sessions that matter to your brand, but don't forget to leave yourself with ample time to walk the exhibit floor. In fact, you can best utilize your time by studying the HITEC 2016 floor plan in advance. Sticking with the above example, you may want to decide in advance where the booths of exciting brands like Social Tables, NAVIS, Flip.to, AT&T, Netgear, Intelity, GoConcierge, and Oracle Hospitality (among others) are located.Tip#2: Seek Out InnovationInnovation is not an exclusive realm of major corporations. As a brief example, Yikes has been highlighted as an innovative company to watch at HITEC 2016. Yikes offers a safe, secure platform to help brands build customer loyalty by facilitating closer contact with customers. Its advanced proximity awareness technology allows guests to use smartphones as room keys and with even more to come.You also won't want to miss out on Entrepreneur 20X 2016 to check out some of the most inventive, unfunded start-ups the hospitality industry has to offer. This year's docket is now full with interesting companies trying to tackle some of the most pressing technological needs of our industry. Last year at the inaugural Entrepreneur 20X companies like Groupize, GuestCentric, Spokefly and TripChamp didn't disappoint and this year is looking very promising. Tip#3: Attend Social Gatherings and PartiesIt's no secret that many business deals happen over dinner or evening drinks. Networking at the parties that take place in conjunction with HITEC 2016 is an excellent means of sourcing potential new contacts and collecting competitive information. It can become dangerous for your brand to stay trapped in a knowledge bubble, as it undermines professional growth. Engaging with colleagues in the hospitality industry facilitates new learning, expands your industry insights, and drives actionable improvements you can implement within your business later on.Maximize Your Exhibiting ExperienceFor those promoting a pioneering product or service at HITEC 2016, success begins with preparation. With a little bit of forethought, you can use your marketing spend effectively as an exhibitor.Tip#1: Schedule Meetings in AdvanceB2B marketers continue to rate in-person events as their most effective tactic (69%), according to B2B Content Marketing 2015: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends Report. However, if you don't make every moment at your booth count, you're losing out on potential revenue. Schedule meetings with existing leads for consultations, presentations, or demos in advance of the event. Face-to-face meetings are a great way to nurture leads and close deals. This not only gives you predetermined time to pitch your brand, it does the work of pulling in other attendees for you. A booth with bodies generates buzz, and that buzz will attract the passersby.Tip#2: Mix Up Your Networking When you're not on the floor, attend as many networking events as possible. For example, the keynote speaker Tuesday, June 21st has a meet-and-greet session for 30 minutes following the keynote session. This gives you the opportunity to connect not only with the speaker, but also other professionals within your niche who attend that seminar. Hosting mixers, galas and parties are great if you have the budget, but even some personal time during a breakfast or intimate dinner builds relationships and moves them forward.Get out of your comfort zone and connect with people you don't know to increase your chances of expanding your network. Avoid the classic mistake of only sticking with your inner circle or those you came with. Don't forget about meeting the other exhibitors (yes, even your competitors) as well. Keep your opening line as simple as - "Hi, my name is ..."Most importantly, approach everyone you meet with the sense of wanting to learn as much as you can about them - instead of trying to tell them all about you. Take advantage of every opportunity to make a good impression.Tip#3: Develop Strong Content, Before and AfterTrade show marketing is a highly strategic process. You have to clearly define your strategy and messaging to ensure everything relates back to your business goals. For starters, the more content you have, the more reason attendees and media have to visit your booth. This includes thought leadership articles, press releases, blogs, ebooks, infographics and white papers. Make the content available to all attendees, exhibitors, and participants before, during, and after the show.Don't be subtle about sharing information regarding your brand's participation in HITEC 2016. Provide your LinkedIn connections, prospect list and social followers with an invitation to meet up - and don't forget to include your booth number. Update them on events and educational seminars you'll attend or speak at, and decide on a hashtag that makes it easy for anyone to track your brand's activities at HITEC.Following HITEC's conclusion, summarize your company's experience with an email blast (internal to employees and external to customers) and connect with your new contacts via appropriate social media channels.HITEC is more than an exposition of innovative technologies in hospitality. Of course, everyone gets excited by the shiny new concepts such as the Relay robotics system from Savioke that delivers items to guest rooms, but if you want to realize ROI on your time and money at the conference, you need a deliberate strategy for the event. These tips aren't all encompassing, and most are just common sense that is often not that common. At the end of the day, these tips will give you an effective starting point to ensure you'll make the most of a great opportunity.Enjoy HITEC, learn at HITEC, close deals at HITEC but most importantly, make a great plan for HITEC. If you want to meet up, I'll be there - so please drop me a line on LinkedIn or message me on Twitter @alaneyoung.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.
Article by Alan Young

5 Innovative Companies to Watch for at HITEC 2016

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 3 May 2016
all with the hopes of continually enhancing the fast-paced industry.Hosted by Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), the conference annually draws over 5,500 attendees from across the globe. This year's event is in New Orleans, Louisiana from June 20th-23rd, and it is jam packed. If you don't believe me, the floorplan alone is enough to convince you.I'll be making the trek myself, and am already looking forward to hearing from the top minds in the hospitality tech industry, and making my way through the 300+ exhibits at the trade show. My objective is to find the most disruptive and innovative companies that I think have a fantastic future. You will not want to miss them either, so I've compiled a helpful list of several very promising ones here.Without further ado, five companies to watch for at HITEC 2016, in no particular order:1) AliceAppIf you're looking for a service management system for your hotel, AliceApp claims to be the most comprehensive one yet. With a suite of management tools for front of house, guest services and back of house, it appears the app creators have thought the modern hotel's needs through carefully. For the front of house, hoteliers can manage requests with an integrated calendar (complete with reminders) and create printable or email itineraries for guests. AliceApp's back of house functionality helps keep hotel staff on track with one convenient system that offers ticket management and a timer to track task completion time--data that further helps hoteliers improve their operations. Ultimately, AliceApp empowers hotels to increase team efficiency and communication, enabling hotels to deliver higher levels of service to their guests. A platform that keeps staff and guests on the same page is imperative in this day and age. Guest engagement technology is a highly competitive space right now, and only a few are having an impact. Keep a look out for this company.2) SaviokePronounced "savvy oak," Savioke is a company utilizing robotics to improve hotel services. Their focus is a robot called Relay, which, as its name hints at, relays small items to guests. Hotel staff simply load up requested items into the bot, and with the touch of a button, it's off for delivery. Relay is a timesaver for hotels and a fun service for guests. Currently, Savioke says the robots have completed over 13,000 deliveries to date across at least six big name hotels. The company believes in the power of robotics to improve lives and says they hope to expand their services to elder care facilities, hospitals, restaurants, and beyond. The Jetsons have arrived in the hotel industry, and even though robots will never completely replace the "people' aspect of hospitality, they can certainly assist in ensuring guest satisfaction.3) YikesFor brands looking to promote themselves through ever-popular proximity awareness technology, Yikes might fit the bill. If you're not yet sure what proximity awareness is (or why it's valuable for brands), essentially it registers nearby devices of potential customers. Yikes utilizes this technology in a safe, secure way, to help brands build loyalty by keeping in close contact with customers. The service even allows customers to use their smartphones as keys to hotel rooms, among other conveniences. However, the company says they are more than that, boasting services like proximity awareness that tracks where guests are on the property, allowing hoteliers deliver personalized attention to guests easily and quickly. As the smartphone will continue to impact the hotel industry, I predict that it will soon be the primary device to handle most everything a guest requires while on and off property.4) NovilityAs is the trend, Novility is a company dedicated to data. The service collects data about hotel employees while training them with NovilityHELP, an interactive, engaging training system specifically made for the hospitality industry. It allows hoteliers to ensure their staff is trained and ready to provide high-quality services, as guest expectations continually heighten around the world. NovilityHELP was built to incorporate multiple languages, enabling employees to train in their language of choice. In a time when online reviews can make or break hotels, great service is more important than ever, and Novility is crafted with this in mind. Keeping employees engaged and well trained ultimately increases guest satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.5) AbovePropertyCreated in 2013, AboveProperty is a cloud-based Central Reservation System that hopes to keep the hotelier's day-to-day operations and distribution simple. The company keeps up-to-date on the latest in travel technology to ensure their social-enabled travel software is cutting edge. The software has a myriad management capabilities, including products like Inline Revenue Management, Internet Booking Engine, Social Relationship Management, and Content Management System--and that's just the half of it. In a world of ever-increasing technological convergence, developing a next generation CRS that encompasses all the relevant guest related data and elements is no small feat. It will be interesting to see where this team gets their next group of clients.These five companies are undoubtedly worth keeping an eye on--and the remarkable thing is, there are many more inventive companies exhibiting at this year's event. Considering that HITEC attracts the best and most diverse hospitality technology brands in the world - I am looking forward to expanding this list and discovering the next big things. Hope to see you there.Are you looking forward to HITEC? Know of any other great companies to look out for at the conference? Please feel free to send me a note.
Article by Alan E. Young

What is Experiential Travel and Why Does It Matter to Hotel and Travel Brands?

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 13 April 2016
but often the point of travel is to leave home and step away from the familiar. Because of this, travelers are seeking out experiences that connect them to the local people and culture, rather than looking for the comforts of home and the road often traveled.When it comes to actually making experiential travel happen, there are a number of companies and startups making waves. Two such startups hoping to make experiential travel more accessible are Vayable and Urbanbuddy, both apps that connect travelers to "expert" locals. As Vayable CEO Jamie Wong was recently quoted as saying, "People want to reclaim what's real. Mass tourism is no longer sufficient." Urbanbuddy is a mobile concierge for connecting hotel guests to locals through real-time chat!Also getting into the game is Airbnb with the beta launch of their latest venture Airbnb Experience. Local hosts can earn extra money just by showing tourists their favorite local sights or activities. The program is an extension of Airbnb's hospitality empire, whose users have booked 10 million rooms in 192 countries on its online marketplace since 2007.Umapped goes one step further and offers a collaborative itinerary tool where content, offers, and recommendations by other travel suppliers - as well as friends and family - can be shared and added to your itinerary in real-time. Meanwhile, if travelers are looking to enjoy a meal and conversation with locals, they can turn to social dining apps like Grouper, Grubwithus, LeftoverSwap, EatWith, and HomeDine. These apps and programs are only growing in popularity as travelers do their research to make their trips unique.The travel industry can think of experiential travel and its appeal regarding human relationships. We naturally gravitate toward meaningful, genuine relationships, rather than surface-level ones. It's these more intimate relationships that leave lasting impressions because we form an emotional bond that surpasses the bond we form with acquaintances. So it is with travel: travelers are not as satisfied with trips that skim the surface of their destination. They want to walk away from their travels with fond memories and personal stories that other travelers cannot replicate.A simple online search will return an abundance of sites dedicated to writing articles about experiential trips. The trend is so prevalent, popular travel magazine Afar dedicates much of their publication to building experiential travel itineraries for the planning traveler, and recently launched the Afar app mobile trip planner. Other magazines and blogs are following suit. It's content that travelers want and need since they have to depend on others who live in or know the area to have an idea of what they can experience as a tourist.Travel technology and hotel brands are joining in on promoting experiential travel, too--and they should, if they hope to remain a relevant and useful resource for travelers. To get started with encouraging experiential travel requires a change in mentality. To be truly authentic, travel brands need to start thinking like locals, no matter where the brand's physical presence is. Travel brands have to scale down: rather than thinking about their global brand; they should think about their brand in the context of the destination. What does a destination local do every day? Where do they frequent? Where do they eat? What do the locals do on weekends? Are there traditions and customs locals follow? It's not about the idea of travel as a whole when it comes to experiential travel. It's about breaking it down to the minuscule, to the personal.For example, a global hotel chain should be cognizant of the unique culture, services and atmosphere they offer at each destination. While the brand may remain consistent, the brick-and-mortar hotels must localize themselves. The hotel is often the gateway to the traveler's destination, so it should mesh with its surroundings and be a local experience itself.More than that, however, hoteliers and travel tech brands can--and indeed, must--find ways to collaborate with the local community and companies to provide an immersion into the culture of the area. The locals know the area better than anyone and are a valuable resource for travelers to turn to. However, travelers may not know where to go to find these knowledgeable locals. That's where hoteliers and travel tech companies come in. Both can act as the connection point, conveniently fulfilling a need for the experiential traveler.Experiential travel is a trend that hotels and travel tech companies cannot afford to ignore. The world is growing smaller as technologies make communication and travel simpler and quicker, leaving travelers searching for bigger adventures. Remember, travelers today aren't just satisfied to visit a place. They want an immersion to experience it--and hotels and travel tech companies need to leverage (aka cash in) on the opportunity to make that happen.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.
Article by Alan E. Young

Finding Success in the Travel App Landscape

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 23 March 2016
and why should they keep it on their phone? It's a question being debated across the industry as new travel apps take off, and others close their doors for good.Before we discuss just why certain travel apps succeed, and other's don't, let's take a look at the landscape itself: of the over two million apps on the major app stores, 5% are in the travel category. According to Criteo's latest mobile commerce report, these travel apps are leading in purchases, rather than mobile web, accounting for 58% of mobile travel sales.Add to that the fact that 35% of travel consumers who complete their purchases on a smartphone have used multiple devices leading up to their purchase, and it's clear that travel companies need to make their services not only available for mobile but via an app.The caveat here is that smartphone users uninstall mobile apps at high rates. Retention for an app for the first month on a mobile is just 36%, according to ITR. By month 12, that percentage has diminished to 11% -- not good odds.What's more, for the travel industry specifically, there's a noticeable trend of startup companies opening their doors, following trends in the industry, and then burning out. Often, these copycat startups just don't stick.However, there's no need for pessimism, so long as the travel industry takes note of why users uninstall apps and startups avoid the pitfall of not being innovative enough to maintain relevancy.ITR tracked data from across the app stores to see why users removed apps from their phones. The results are unsurprising: the majority of users uninstalled apps because they took up too much storage space, ran intrusive ads, and kept freezing, among other things.ITR also compiled a list of common mistakes across apps, many relating to unsuccessful design, especially when the app has dead-end buttons and text that looks clickable but isn't, or when app developers forget to consider screen size and orientation.Aside from the more technical aspects of these apps, the travel industry specifically faces some difficulties. Take the case of Just Landed, a travel app which let users know when a plane touched down that shut down in Feb. 2016 after a four-year run.The founder, Jon Grall, explained the decision in a letter, citing a complete lag in innovation for flight data, rising costs in both flight data and supporting services that work with flight data, and, of course, the deteriorating app economy as all contributing to the startup's demise.In this landscape, some apps are proving their own worth, like Hyper Travel, which, among its other perks, allows users to speak to real travel agents in addition to intelligent software. Rather than existing solely as an app, the company provides services embedded within existing texting and email apps -- situating their services anywhere users could want them. This one has legs!To find success, travel apps need to be innovative enough to keep users coming back to their simple-to-use solution and to use reliable data services that will be able to support an increase in demand. Luckily, there are plenty of examples out there of what to do and what not to do: the key is to take note of each.About Puzzle PartnerPuzzle Partner Ltd. is a boutique marketing agency that specializes in helping hospitality and travel innovators achieve winning performance and dramatic growth. We are experts at combining strategy and tactical execution in a way that doesn't just maximize a company's potential; it redefines it. By delivering relevant, proven and effective marketing services and public relations rooted in the skills of our people and tested through real-world experience, we help our clients gain visibility, raise their profile and ultimately increase their sales revenues. To learn more visit puzzlepartner.co.
Article by Alan E. Young

Speed, Focus and Flexibility - What Startups & Tech Brands Can Learn from Car Racing

Puzzle Partner Ltd. 23 February 2016
Passion is one of the most effective motivators when it comes to launching a startup - and often one of the strongest predictors of whether an idea will lead to success. My passion is car racing and all the elements that go into driving, maintaining and fine-tuning the car to achieve success. I discovered that there is a definite correlation between driving an extremely fast car and running a successful startup - or any business for that matter.My firm, Puzzle Partner Ltd., sponsors an up-and-coming young driver named Clark Toppe. He drives one of those incredibly fast machines and makes it look effortless. When he is behind the wheel, all he thinks about is winning the race. How fast must he drive to cross the finish line first without going too fast and spinning out or crashing? He must remain focused for hours at a time to win while in the back of his mind he has to be prepared to get himself out of trouble at a moment's notice.Developing new technologies and seeing them flourish is quite a challenge for companies that are starting out. The same can be expected of brands that are trying to reinvent themselves or enhance their current product offerings. However, none of this is easy. It takes determination, passion and drive (pun intended) to excel, and the ability to change course when required by external or internal circumstances.Speed, innovation, and cadence are the difference between winning and losing"If your car feels like it is on rails, you are probably driving too slow". - Ross Bentley, Performance coach, race car driver, author, and speakerWe live in a world today that is evolving technologically faster than ever before. New entrants delivering innovations have to deal with this new pace of change and as such must keep moving ahead at a 'fast and furious' pace. Slowing down development, marketing or sales efforts related to a product or products, will most certainly mean you will get passed by companies that are faster, and you may not even see it coming.Speed wins but not at all costs. You must always keep your foot pushing on the throttle but not so hard that it becomes a detonator. Move quickly - but don't forget about the things that matter most like great vision, understanding what the market requires and developing solutions that the consumer will indeed purchase.Keep moving fast and the results will follow.Focus"To be a race car driver, it's essential you have amazing vision and focus. Your senses are heightened, you're travelling over 200mph, you need to focus on that 110-metre braking point, and you have to have absolute faith and commitment in your driving". - Allan McNish, Ex-Formula One driver, World Champion, three-time Le Mans winnerFocus is imperative to winning. Maintaining your focus as a startup enables you to produce. Having a team of great people who are also laser focused on the same objective will allow you to drive forward effectively and most importantly, deliver. There are so many companies today that see a ramp in success and then start to look for other avenues of revenue before truly owning the space/technology in which they have yet to fully dominate.However, there can be many factors that make a startup lose its focus. Sometimes it is a lack of cash flow or taking on a client that man-handles the team to deliver things that are out of the scope of the company's primary mission. Other times it is the leadership group working on something that the market may not necessarily perceive as valuable. However, one thing is true when an organization loses focus; it loses direction, and this can be catastrophic for a startup or new product trying to win in today's extremely fast-paced technology world.Flexibility"A racing car is an animal with a thousand adjustments". - Mario Andretti, World champion racing driverThe flexibility to deal with change is imperative when developing technology today. The advancement of t methodologies along with meeting the increasing demands of consumers can have an immediate impact on a startup when they are right in the middle of the "race".There are many things that a startup cannot foresee. Challenges can be brought on by dramatic shifts in the target market, an overflow of competition, economic variables and even a lack of resources. All of these dynamics can force a startup to tweak what they are doing to stay in the race and maintain a competitive edge.It can be tough to change when you've committed to a great concept, brought a team on board, and spent countless hours drumming up enthusiasm for your product or brand. However, many of the most successful technology startups are thrivingprimarily because they recognize the signs, and realize that to achieve their objectives; they will have to make small pivots until they reach that finish line."Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit." -Conrad Hilton, Founder Hilton Hotels

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