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Red Roof Introduces Innovative Alexa Skills Technology

Red Roof ยท37m
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Capitalizing on continued evolution in the consumer-facing technology space, Red Roof is paving the way for hoteliers to connect directly with consumers at home through Amazon's Alexa Skills platform. Setting the industry standard, a dynamic Red Roof skill for Amazon Alexa now gives travelers the power to ask Alexa Red Roof-specific questions to assist in making travel plans, all from the comfort of home. This new innovation allows Red Roof to provide key information to the more than 20 million Alexa users, answering questions to help drive decisions including, "Can I bring my dog?" and "How many locations do you have?" to "Tell me about Red Roof PLUS+" and "Do you have any deals?""As consumers continue to rely more heavily on technology in their daily routines at home, we created the Red Roof skill for Amazon Alexa in the spirit of added convenience and ability to deliver important, decision-driving information directly to current and future guests," says Kevin Scholl, Director of Digital Marketing and Partnerships, Red Roof. "Our technology is living and we'll continue to add information to best support users based on consumer demand and aim to provide booking capabilities in the future."According to recent research, 72 percent of users engage with Alexa as part of their daily routine and nearly half of them speak with their Alexa-enabled device, noting it feels like speaking with a friend. In line with how people love to hear recommendations from friends or third-party advocates, a majority of Alexa users reported that they are open to learning about brands from their devices1."Directly giving consumers information about Red Roof at home is the natural next step in our technological future as an innovative hotel brand," Marina MacDonald, Chief Marketing Officer, Red Roof. "Travel truly meets technology through the new Red Roof skill for Amazon Alexa, allowing us to provide key information to a captivated audience that is already integrating the benefits of Alexa into their everyday lives."Users can enable the Red Roof skill for Amazon Alexa at no cost on all of their Alexa-enabled devices in the Skills hub of the Amazon Alexa app on their smartphones. Utilizing the power of Alexa Skills is just the latest in Red Roof's recent technological advancements. In 2017, the brand completely redesigned its website to create a sleek, accessible, mobile-first platform to allow travelers to seamlessly book on-the-go from their smartphones. Later this year, Red Roof will roll out an Artificial Intelligence Chatbot and Quickbook feature for the site to make it even easier for guests to quickly lock in a comfortable stay at a great price.

2018 HEDNA Distribution Conference Exceeds Expectations

HEDNA 13 February 2018
The HEDNA Global Distribution Conference concluded its annual event in Austin, Texas with a record number of attendees, captivating keynotes, educational sessions, interviews and engaging discussions. The overwhelming sentiment from all at the event was how relevant and important HEDNA conferences are for hoteliers to participate in if they want to stay informed, understand and compete in today's dynamic landscape."We are extremely happy with the turnout and the amazing content that we were able to deliver to such a large crowd," said Sarah Fults, President of HEDNA. "The success of the Austin Conference bodes well for the upcoming event we will be hosting this June in Lisbon, Portugal where we will tackle 'a conversation with tomorrow's guest' - which is also the theme."Austin 2018 Conference takeaways and highlights included:Current and relevant Data and Insights everywhere: Keynote speaker, Harper Reed Harper, shared his insights on demystifying big data.Justin Rao from HomeAway clarified the competition between VR and Hotels.The fast-paced State of the Industry sessions portrayed and analyzed the different perspectives of distribution (Guest, Property, Distributor).Cutting Edge Technology and Innovation:HEDNA's first Hackathon proved that HEDNA can hack - generating compelling concepts over a weekend only.The Innov8ors presented exciting new ideas and solutions challenging the status quo.Blockchain technology has arrived in Hospitality through Payment and Digital Identity.Passionate debates included: How Austin regulates the sharing economy without slowing down innovationHow soon until AI (artificial intelligence) applications replace humans?Why is there still a reception in the hotel and what is the guest experience of the future?"I always clear my schedule to attend this conference," said Chris Murdock, Director, Distribution Operations, AccorHotels. "The content was engaging and educational providing me and my company valuable insights and a clear advantage. Great Return on Investment."The next HEDNA Global Distribution Conference will be held in Lisbon, Portugal from June 4 - 6, 2018 at the Sheraton Lisboa Hotel. Registration is set to open Spring 2018.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.

Why it's time to rethink the start-up model - JLL Real Views

JLLH 13 February 2018
Now entrepreneurs seeking to use technology for social good--while generating profits--are disrupting the status quo and bringing a more diverse face to the industry.It comes in response to the rapid rise of America's tech industry over recent decades, where talent has generally been drawn from a small pool and concentrated in specific areas of the country. Start-up funding is disproportionately concentrated on the coasts, with the states of California, New York and Massachusetts receiving three-quarters of venture capital funding, compared to 23 percent for the "rest of America," according to the Kauffman Foundation.Meanwhile recent industry analysis from Recode found that women hold less than 30 percent of leadership positions at tech companies, with black and Latino representation even lower at between 4-10 percent."It's time to flip the way we think about how start-up funding is allocated in the tech sector, and finding ways to support more women and people of color," says Patricia Raicht, Senior Vice President and National Director of Research for the Western US JLL. She points to the broader benefits that come with diversity. "Diverse teams mean diverse thinking--and that can make for a more innovative work environment, which in turn drives company growth."While some inequity is simply symptomatic of a larger cultural phenomenon in the U.S., Mara Zepeda, co-founder and CEO, Switchboard, believes the lack of diversity in tech can also be traced back to the conventional "burn-and-churn" model of venture capital, which can stymy diversity in the earliest stages of a company."Traditionally, venture capitalists have sought out the tech founders who can deliver fast growth and major returns, exclusively," says Zepeda. "They haven't placed value on whether or not those founders--and their ideas--might also contribute to the greater good."Changing the face of techDiverse thinking may be just what the tech industry needs to fuel a movement to use technology to solve some of the world's most vexing problems. "There's tremendous interest right now in launching tech entrepreneurship in a more equitable and inclusive way," says Zepeda, who is seeing some of this momentum first-hand as an organizer in the "Zebras Unite" movement.The Zebra concept started when two female CEOs of socially conscious tech companies struggled to get funding from venture capitalists who only cared for the elusive billion-dollar-or-bust Unicorn. So they spearheaded the idea for creating 'Zebras', companies that drive profits and social good, often with an emphasis on including women and other underrepresented founders. The idea is gaining global traction from "zebra parties" in Berlin, to the DazzleCon conference in Portland, OR.Diversity efforts abound outside the Zebra umbrella, too. In Oakland, California for example, the Kapor Center for Social Impact leverages capital, research and outreach to ensure an ever-growing number of tech startups by founders of color.Geographical barriers are also being broken down, bringing funding to start-ups located far from the traditional tech heartland of Silicon Valley. In Chicago, Impact Engine offers mentorships and cash to entrepreneurs who see market opportunity in solving big social and environmental challenges. More than half of its portfolio companies are based in the middle of the country, addressing issues from economic empowerment and resource efficiency to health and education.As more tech entrepreneurs flock to secondary markets in search of lower cost centers of innovation, investors are likely to find opportunities to help local economies flourish as they invest in businesses that do good. "A thriving tech sector is always good news for local communities," says Craig Reinhart, Managing Director, JLL Portland. "The start-ups of today are tomorrow's major employers and wealth creators."And when these start-ups come with a social conscious, they can ensure their values are embedded within growing markets. "When entrepreneurs embrace socially responsible principles, such as diverse hiring practices and local jobs, they have a tremendous opportunity to shape our communities," says Raicht. "They can act as a catalyst for others in the area to become more inclusive as well."Solving societal ills, while turning a profitA growing class of socially-conscious financiers is looking to disrupt the current capital model with an eye toward long-term, sustainable growth. Unlike traditional venture capitalists, impact investors look for solutions to environmental, health and social justice problems--all areas where a diverse array of tech innovators could make a meaningful contribution, should they win the funding.The funding category is growing quickly, with impact firms raising around $10 billion in investments since 2010alone. But far more capital is needed to fund the growing numbers of entrepreneurs striving to build businesses that solve real, meaningful problems."A large portion of impact investment funding is restricted to verticals like clean technology, microfinance or global health, limiting innovation in other sectors -- like journalism and education -- that could desperately use it," says Zepeda.She points to potential sources of capital that could be allocated to "enlightened businesses" seeking to make an impact. For example, local and state governments can look at whether their pension funds are representing the public interest. "One of the most important ways forward will be to develop alternative financing mechanisms that bridge the gap between traditional bank loans and venture capital. We need more financing solutions for companies that fall in the middle," says Zepeda.Such gaps will take time to fill. But, ultimately, boosting tech start-up diversity could bring new opportunities that benefit investors, drive innovation and create thriving and sustainable communities built on socially responsible values.

2017 'Outstanding Overall Learners of the Year' for Financial Management and Revenue Management announced by HOSPA at the Association's dedicated HOSPA Annual Learner Awards Ceremony

HOSPA 6 February 2018
Awards also presented to the highest achieving learners at each Level of HOSPA's 2017 Professional Development Programmes in Financial and Revenue ManagementThe association also recognised two organisations for their commitment to education in the fields of Revenue Management and Financial ManagementThe 2017 'Overall Learners of the Year' for HOSPA's hospitality-focused Professional Development Programmes in Financial Management and Revenue Management were announced yesterday (25 January 2018) at the Hilton on Park Lane, London. The two outstanding learners were presented with specially engraved glass trophies and complimentary day delegate spaces for HOSPACE2018, at the HOSPA Annual Learner Awards Ceremony - a stand-alone celebration, sponsored by MRK Associates and Corecruitment and dedicated to the achievements of HOSPA learners.The recipients in question, who gained the highest combined course work and examination results for 2017 in their respective Professional Development Programmes, were:For Financial Management: Monika Hyde, Management Accounts Assistant, Quay Hotel & Spa, Conwy, Wales For Revenue Management: David Clancy, General Manager, Leonardo Edinburgh Capital Hotel, Edinburgh The Association also recognised learner Sam Jennings, Key Market Revenue Manager - South West, Whitbread - Premier, with an "Outstanding Achievement Award" for having achieved the highest grades for Levels 1, 2 & 3 in his Revenue Management studies during 2016-17. Head of HOSPA Professional Development Debra Adams explained: "We wanted to honour Sam for achieving the highest combined course work and examination results over a two-year period in all three Levels of the HOSPA Professional Development Programme in Revenue Management. Sam was the September 2016 highest scorer in Level 1: 'Introduction to Revenue Management' and in March 2017 achieved the highest grades in Level 2 'Operational Revenue Management' and completed the programme in September 2017 by gaining the highest grade in Level 3: 'Strategic Revenue Management'."The programmes, delivered by the Hospitality Professionals Association (HOSPA) in association with arena4finance Ltd, provide the skills and knowledge for those hospitality professionals seeking to excel in their careers in hospitality finance or revenue management.With both introductory and advanced levels available, the modules have been specifically written for the hospitality sector by specialist educators and industry-leaders and reflect the need for learners to be continuing in full-time work whilst studying.The Financial Management programme is studied in three separate stages over 18 months. The Revenue Management programme is offered in three separate levels, each taking five months to complete.Monica Hyde and David Clancy were both presented with a glass trophy and a complimentary delegate space at HOSPA's prestigious annual HOSPACE2018 Conference and Exhibition, to be held on 1st November 2018 at the Royal Lancaster London Hotel. The awards were presented by Debra Adams, Head of Professional Development at HOSPA and Harry Murray, newly-elected President of HOSPA and Chairman of Lucknam Park Hotel & Spa.Monica and David were amongst twelve learners who each received certificates and prizes for achieving the highest combined course work and examination scores during their studies in Financial Management and Revenue Management with HOSPA on courses completed in February 2017 and August 2017.The twelve 2017 HOSPA Professional Development Learner Award Winners, who each received a certificate and cash prizes, were as follows:Financial Management prize winners, completed in March 2017 were: Stage 1 - Introduction to Financial Accounting: Monika Hyde, Management Accounts Assistant, Quay Hotel & Spa, Deganwy, WalesStage 2 - Operational Management Accounting: Natalia Zaremba, Assistant Financial Controller, Renaissance Hotel, ParisStage 3 - Strategic Management Accounting: Matthew Bennett, Financial Controller, The Derbyshire Hotel, Alfreton, DerbyshireFinancial Management prize winners, completed in September 2017 were: Stage 1 - Introduction to Financial Accounting: Emalyn Gretton, formerly Accounts Assistant, Jurys Inns; now at DS Smith Packaging Services Ltd., BristolStage 2 - Operational Management Accounting: Monika Hyde, Management Accounts Assistant, Quay Hotel & Spa, Deganwy, WalesStage 3 - Strategic Management Accounting: Ketan Bhakta, Cluster Accounts Manager, Jurys Inns, Birmingham Revenue Management prize winners, completed in March 2017 were: Level 1: Introduction to Revenue Management: David Clancy, General Manager, Leonardo Edinburgh Capital Hotel, EdinburghLevel 2: Operational Revenue Management: Sam Jennings, Key Market Revenue Manager - South West, Whitbread - Premier Inns, Luton, BedfordshireLevel 3: Strategic Revenue Management: Diane Little, Assistant Cluster Rooms Revenue Manager, Principal Hotels, Edinburgh Revenue Management prize winners, completed in September 2017 were: Level 1: Introduction to Revenue Management: Miriam Waldmeyer, Revenue Centre Manager, Royal Lancaster London Hotel, LondonLevel 2: Operational Revenue Management: Henry Rouse, Revenue Manager, Hoseasons, Lowestoft, SuffolkLevel 3: Strategic Revenue Management: Sam Jennings, Key Market Revenue Manager - South West, Whitbread - Premier Inn, Luton, BedfordshireCommenting on the awards, HOSPA Chief Executive Jane Pendlebury said: "Huge congratulations to our two outstanding learners and all our prize-winning highest achievers, who have each demonstrated outstanding commitment to their careers, combining study with demanding full-time roles in the hotel and restaurant industry. We are extremely proud of them. We are delighted to have returned to the Hilton on Park Lane for this stand-alone event which has enabled us to centre on the professional development of the next generation of revenue managers and financial managers. Importantly, the event also has enabled our learners to network with industry leaders. We would also like to thank our sponsors, MRK Associates, for their continued support and also welcome new trophy sponsors Corecruitment."The association also recognised two organisations for their outstanding commitment to education in the fields of Revenue Management and Financial Management. Glass trophies were each awarded to:Commitment to Education in Financial Management: The Carden Park Hotel, collected by Wendy Carman, Director of FinanceCommitment to Education in Revenue Management: Principal Hotel Company, collected by Amy Jageneau, Revenue Director De Vere, Principal Hotel CompanyWendy Carman, Director of Finance at Carden Park Hotel, said: "When we were looking for a Finance Learning Programme we knew instantly that HOSPA was the right fit for Carden Park Hotel. It is an industry recognised programme that not only ensures our employees are gaining the right qualifications and knowledge but one that #teamcarden are also enthusiastic about completing."The nature of hotel accounting is very different to many industries and we wanted an exciting Finance Learning Programme that reflected this. At Carden Park our ethos is to 'grow our own', we ensure that our team has the opportunity to develop within their roles and HOSPA has been a big part of this for our finance and food and beverage teams. The team turnover is very low for which we can partially attribute to them feeling valued and being able to progress by completing appropriate training. The support from HOSPA throughout our learning journey has been fantastic and we will certainly be continuing to grow our team with their programme."Alan Corlett, Group Commercial Revenue Director for Principal Hotel Company, commented: "The Principal Hotel Company owns and operates over 30 landmark buildings across the length and breadth of the U.K, comprising of PRINCIPAL in city centres and De Vere, modern country estate hotels with mansion houses at their heart.A PS250 million investment programme is currently underway, which will see many of the group's properties refurbished and repositioned, including The Principal London, the former Hotel Russell, which will open in Bloomsbury this April following a PS75 million restoration.By enrolling members of our revenue and finance teams on HOSPA's accredited courses, we're ensuring that we give our colleagues the opportunities to progress within our business by achieving a credible, industry qualification. Working with HOSPA also ensures that our teams are kept fully up-to-date with industry trends and developments, future proofing our business for years to come."Prior to the Awards Ceremony itself, the afternoon's proceedings started with a Panel Debate, chaired by Professor Peter Jones MBE, Chairman of the HOSPA Professional Development Committee and involving expert participants: Martin Christian-Kent from People 1st, Hugo McNestry from Trothco Ltd, Harry Murray, President of HOSPA and Chairman of Lucknam Park Hotel and Ally Northfield, Head of the HOSPA Revenue Management Community and Director, Revenue by Design, discussing the education needs and recruitment of hospitality finance and revenue managers.Sponsoring the event for the second year in succession was MRK Associates Ltd. MRK Associates is the only recruitment business in the UK with a dedicated Revenue/Yield Management and Pricing division. Consisting of specialist consultants, this market has seen huge growth recently across numerous industry sectors but none more than in Hotels. The types of vacancies in which MRK Associates specialise:Revenue Analyst, (Cluster) Revenue Manager, Director/ Head of RevenuePricing Analyst, Manager and DirectorYield Analyst, Manager and DirectorData Analyst and BIIn a skill-short marketplace where experienced individuals are at a premium, MRK has proved successful in sourcing the right talent and opening the market up for them. They partner with the only sector specific job board in the world: www.revenuemanagementjobs.comHOSPA also welcomed sponsor Corecruitment for the first time. COREcruitment is a leading international recruitment consultancy with a friendly team of market specialists covering multiple markets across the service industry. Established in 2005 it has rapidly earned an enviable international reputation for its professionalism and high-quality service delivery founded on its three core principles; integrity, efficiency and transparency.Corecruitment's expertise covers a wide spectrum of the service industry and all its consultants have significant international/sector experience in their specialist fields. Specialist areas include:Head Office RecruitmentMarketing, Finance and ITRetail RecruitmentHuman ResourcesFacilities Management, Property and Estate RecruitmentExecutive RecruitmentSport and Leisure RecruitmentEvents and Hospitality RecruitmentBars, Restaurants and Club RecruitmentCatering and Events RecruitmentHotelsChef RecruitmentThe HOSPA Professional Development Programme in Financial Management is the entry route to Associate membership of HOSPA for finance personnel in the industry. The programme provides career development for hospitality accounting professionals wishing to gain additional skills and the knowledge required to manage hospitality finance divisions, or gain an understanding of the accounting function of a hospitality unit. The three-stage 'blended learning' programme, studied over three 5-month periods, provides the flexibility for accounts professionals to fit their learning around their busy working day. Successful completion will significantly enhance their careers and help their employers meet even more effectively today's ever changing management challenges.The HOSPA Professional Development Programme in Revenue Management was developed by leading educators in revenue management in the hospitality sector, in conjunction with leading industry experts. The course is designed to provide aspiring and current revenue professionals with the skills and knowledge required to manage their divisions, as well as to provide non-revenue managers with a detailed knowledge of the function within a hospitality property. A grant from the Savoy Educational Trust has enabled HOSPA to update and reposition its current Revenue Management Programme and has allowed the individual units, within the online programme's three levels, to be studied in a modular format. This, in turn, is making the course more flexible - providing greater accessibility to a wider audience. A further development to strengthen HOSPA's commitment to this important function in the hospitality sector has been the release in November 2017 of the 2nd edition Revenue Management ebook which provides an invaluable introduction to the world of Revenue Management and how it can be used in the hospitality industry.The deadline date for enrolment for the next intake is 1 March 2018 - for both the Financial Management and Revenue Management programmes. Both courses are available at three levels - Introductory, Operational and Strategic - each at a cost of PS820 (ex VAT). For further information, visit: www.hospa.org/education; or email: education@hospa.org .

Harry Murray elected President of HOSPA

HOSPA 6 February 2018
Harry, who is the chairman of Lucknam Park Hotel and Spa, has worked in the hospitality industry for over 50 years and has been recognised with numerous awards for his tireless efforts to raise standards of excellence. His awards include Hotelier of the Year, Catey Lifetime Achievement Award and an MBE for services to the hospitality industry.His election was made by a unanimous decision of the HOSPA Board, based on his prominence in the industry, his reputation and his previous involvement with HOSPA and BAHA (the previous name for HOSPA).HOSPA helps hospitality's Finance, Revenue Management and IT professionals to develop their careers, network with colleagues and keep up-to-date with industry trends and developments.Speaking about his election, Harry said: "I am proud, honoured and delighted to have been chosen to lead this prestigious association at a time when retaining, attracting and developing talented people is vital to the future success of the British hospitality industry."For me, hospitality is the best industry in the world and we should be proud of the high standards we have achieved in the UK during the past 25 years. This is an industry where you can start at the bottom and go right to the top of the profession and we have to get that message across."Hospitality finance, revenue management and IT have never been more important than they are today and HOSPA leads the way with its educational programmes, events and workshops. I see an opportunity to work with HOSPA to help businesses improve their financial leadership, so I am looking forward to working with Jane and the executive committee to help them achieve this."Jane Pendlebury, Chief Executive of HOSPA, said: "We are delighted to welcome Harry to the role of President. With such a distinguished career and a wealth of knowledge about the industry, we believe he is one the best people to lead us and are hugely looking forward to working with him to achieve our aims and objectives."Harry will next attend the Annual HOSPA Learner Awards Ceremony at Hilton on Park Lane, London on 25th January. The event celebrates the achievements of all our highest achieving learners on the Revenue Management and Financial Management programmes in 2017.For more information on HOSPA, please visit http://www.hospa.org/.

How is the Hospitality industry leveraging Artificial Intelligence to provide an awesome User Experience?

6 February 2018
In the 21st century, industries that remain adamant about integrating new technologicalrevolutions are most likely to regress in their course of development. Businesses across the globehave realized how important it is to include contemporary digital technology to drive constantgrowth and revenue. The last decade has seen incredible innovations and breakthroughs in thelandscape of digital solutions. One of such compelling technologies is Artificial Intelligence(AI).Often misconceived as a replacement for human power, the concept of AI as a technological aidis much larger, wider and pervasive. It has created greater trust, however, for the hospitalityindustry, it shows the promise of transforming its processes, services and facilities through AI-powered robotics. Today, the hotel industry, where comfort-defining advancements are mostrapidly incorporated, has sophisticated its entire system with the adoption of many innovativemethods used for providing satisfying customer service.Let's learn more about how hotel industry leverages Artificial Intelligence to deliver an awesomeuser experience.The idea of erecting intelligent hotelsHaving an intelligent hotel that surpasses customer expectations is the strategy many modernhospitality leaders and service partners conjure. What adds viability to this concept is the thoughtof making it all enhanced with AI-powered care, support and service. There are certain essentialelements that make hotels intelligent. Some of which are:* Concierge robots* Digital assistance* Voice-activated services* Travel experience enhancers* Automatic data processing (machine learning)AI robots not only diminish the human involvement with its voice-activated assistants but alsosmarten the way hotel guest service is delivered to customer's satisfaction. From customer'spersonal choices to their smallest of needs, AI-enabled hotel concierge bots can offer minuteservice and careful assistance.Artificial intelligence entering the hotel industryApple's Siri started providing voice-activated assistance to its mobile users to an extent that ithas become almost a norm now. Amazon Echo and Alexa have also joined the race of creating aricher, more delightful customer experience using the power of machine learning of AI software.Ever since the artificially intelligent system has crept into the hotel industry, the hospitalitysector is abuzz with AI's ability to learn about customers using its data analytics platform thathelps hotel staff create a better frame of customers. Utilizing the full potential of AI software,they can capture a gamut of information about:* Customer Purchases* Travel choices* Journey patterns and itinerary* Location preferences* Hotel rating inquiries* Payment methodsThe knowledge gathered thus can further be translated into providing insightful experience tohotel guests as they travel, inquire, stay and enjoy the luxurious hotel amenities.AI-powered concierge for exquisite customer serviceMore and more hotels have come to realize that in-depth customer service with properlyharnessed customer insight is the best key to increase brand value. This is why we have begun tosee a rise in mature-service hotels where customers are not only regaled with hotel's interiorcharm but are also equally satisfied with real-looking AI robot concierge service.In last few years, we have managed to feel comfortable with voice assistants on the go as well asat home, bridging the gap between machine and humans. The hospitality industry is, therefore,viewing this technology in form of dwarf hotel concierges.Take an example of Hilton Worldwide Hotel whose new AI-based concierge Connie istransforming the hotel guests experience. Connie is deemed as the first ever AI-enabled robotwith two-feet of height. Performing just like a human concierge, Connie can assist arriving hotelguests at front desk standing on its bipedal support.Connie has the following attributes for offering exquisite customer service:* It relies on IBM's Watson AI for computing intelligence* Uses travel database WayBlazer* Gives real-time recommendations for visit-worthy sites and attractions* Answers customer queries on the spot* Learns from frequent customer interactions to refine its responses* Provides excellent care and support as a robotic conciergeExhaustive care with mobile appsPeople love absolute control and flexibility and feel attracted to securing their comfort level athotel premises. As a part of special privileges, a good number of hotels treat customers withsmart controls as they arrive. A dedicated mobile app empowers customers' stay, giving them theluxury to unlock their room, adjust room temperature, and operate curtains, order drinks andmany other things using their smart mobile phone.Here, AI-driven chatbots intervene as a vital key to customer service. Hotel guests can usehotel's special mobile device to interact with chatbots to perform all relevant tasks including:* Ordering meals or drinks* Suggesting special dishes* Controlling room temperature and lighting* Scheduling dinners/lunch* Managing evening reservations* Taxi booking and itinerary planning* Recommending interesting sightseeing and visits* Answering critical queriesThrough virtual interactions via mobile app, chatbots can bypass hotel staff and be a servicerepresentative just like a human at the other end.Intelligent Travel companionsTravellers have evolved lately and desire a great mixture of high-grade personalization andexceptional service standards on the go. On the other hand, hotel operations often getcomplicated due to heavy amounts of data about visitors and hotel staff, resulting in criticalchallenges related to flawless customer experience. This is where intelligent travel phones cancome to assist.As soon as a guest enters their room, they can avail AI-enabled phones that offer amazingfeatures such as:* GPS capabilities* Gamification and amusement* AI-powered in-built hotel app* Access to unlimited data and international calls* Handy travel guide to city attractions* Promotional offers* Return travel booking services* Quick access to hotel service assistantsRecently, Signature Lux Hotels in Gauteng has claimed to be the first one to furnish incredibleguest experience through such digital travel companions that offer intelligent voice-activatedapps.Knowing your customerIn order to serve customers better and create superior guests experience, it is vital to first gathermost knowledge about customers. The more personally you know your customer, the more youwill be able to exceed their expectations. Knowing that having a window into customer's life isof great importance, hotels over the past years have attempted to make their premise the best - aunique and most hospitable place for visitors and guests.Before they enter hotel buildings, customers begin to experience their services right when theybook rooms through different online channels and check rates, room amenities and comfort,availability, etc. Today, from planning of journey online to check out point and return backhome, everything is mulled over carefully by advanced machine learning system. AI does thereal work of a dedicated chaperon helping with:* Fast online assistance* Personalized options and recommendations* Saving user preferences and page visits* Travel bookings and safe routes* Advanced meal/drink preferences* Room booking and reservationsThanks to Big Data element powering the Artificial Intelligence required to take care ofeverything customers would need. Its information classification and management system thathelps learn a great deal of customer's behaviour. AI can then use the wealth of data to addressindividual needs of customers and offer custom guest service.Amazon's Alexa for interactive experienceBy now Amazon's AI-based software service Alexa is visible in the online store. It is a cloud-based service using which software developers can custom-build unique voice-enabledexperiences for customers who want an effortless and intuitive way to interact with everydaytechnology. Alexa has immense potential to change the future of hospitality industry with itspowerful voice services.With Alexa playing the central role in connecting hotels with guests, it becomes easy for users tomake requests to hotel staff using only their voice as a major command. Via Amazon Echo,guests invest the minimal human effort to have their request delivered to respective hotel staff.The following example of ordering meal illustrates the use of Alexa:Alexa's smart program stages the conversation perfectly and communicates the guest messagesto concerned hotel staff member for order fulfilment. Guests save time and efforts by placingtheir order without spending time typing the request details using touch gestures on their mobilephone. Alexa is there to fetch information, note down and suggest pre-emptively. Hotel staffreceives the precise order in the first attempt without even refining it, which ensures smoother,faster customer service.This is the best example of how artificial intelligence of Alexa helps make everything easy andavailable at the voice command, creating a seamless, fluid and highly personalized guestexperience and thus connecting hotels with guests with little possibility of any barriers.Hotels leveraging Artificial IntelligenceIncreasingly, the hotel industry is flooded with AI robots around the globe. Currently, the waveof robotic butlers with cognitive capabilities seems unimaginably on the rise. Take a look at thefollowing examples of the hotel embracing the idea of AI robots:Wynn Las VegasLas Vegas is a giant hub of opulent, posh world-class hotels that are known to offer exceptionalluxury and customer experience. Recently, Wynn Las Vegas has made an announcement sayingthat it will integrate Amazon Echo to digitalize its 4,748 hotel rooms in order to offer their gueststremendous control over multiple facilities using their mere voice. It will start with controllingroom lighting, temperature, TV, draperies, and they are likely to leverage Echo's personalassistant services as well.Clarion Hotel in StockholmClarion Hotel Amaranten in Stockholm is also making its name on the list of first hotels to usethe AI-enabled chatbot butler which is an in-room assistant based on Amazon Echo. Thisassistant is equipped with power features and is designed to help guests with many of theirrequirements such as hailing cabs, ordering room service, online information and other hotel-related operations.Cosmopolitan of Las VegasCosmopolitan of Las Vegas has also registered its name in incorporating AI-powered conciergenamed as Rose. It is one of unparalleled voice-activated assistants that stands out from othersyou have known. The concierge service comes with a calling card that guests get upon checkingin. It includes a phone number to which you can text for anything you want. It also gives facilityto converse with any guest requests using your voice. Rose manages queries precisely and alsoconveys unknown queries to hotel staff. Rose ushers you to entertainment options and local sitesand specialities of the hotel.Edwardian HotelsEdwardian Hotels offer AI chatbots for their guests. They can utilize hotel's chatbot services torequest assistance by typing the text message: "Edward". It is said that Edward is programmed todeliver sublime guest experience especially for those who opt for digital brand interaction.Unlike other contemporary voice-activated assistants, Edward can guide guests to localrestaurants, bars, famous spots and can also handle complaints. Upon failing to help guests withcertain requests, hotel staff can chime in as a standby for Edward.Henna na Hotel, JapanHenna na Hotel is said to be the first ever hotel in Japan where robots work as staff and servehotel guests. The most outstanding hotel staffed by robots exclusively, Henna na has a humanoidfemale to man the front desk and a dinosaur-personified robot to help to arrive guest withonboarding. Here robotic porters carry your luggage to rooms and store it in private lockers. AIassistant robot Churi-chan serves in every room to help with adjusting room lights and providinginformation on climate conditions.ConclusionEven though AI is regarded as the emerging technology trend, the hospitality industry hasalready experienced incredible benefits and wide impact on their business momentum. From thefront desk where AI-powered robotic concierge service stands in the hotel rooms where voice-activated assistants accelerate customer experience, Artificial Intelligence is seen successfullydriving hotel industry today. The technology enables personalized concierge services and offersreal-time recommendations and easy service requests management. Hence, we can conclude thatAI is working far beyond imagination for hotel systems, a breakthrough we all have beenanxiously awaiting.At Maruti Techlabs, we offer an unparalled and automated conversational self-service experience thatprovides answers in real time. Companies can easily customize the chatbot to fit specificbusiness needs, provide custom content as well as match their brand voice and tone.

HFTP Announces Keynote Speakers for HITEC Amsterdam 2018

HFTP 5 February 2018
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), producer of the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC), is pleased to announce that Frits van Paasschen and Nancy Rademaker will serve as keynote speakers for HITEC Amsterdam 2018. Rademaker will present the opening keynote on 12 April from 09:00 to 10:30 about "Extreme Customer Centricity in a Networked World." Van Paasschen will present the closing keynote on 13 April from 13:30 to 15:00 about "Improving Your Odds of Success in a Time of Accelerating Change and Disruption."A former fortune 500 CEO with over 30 years of experience, van Paasschen spent more than a decade serving as CEO at Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide and The Coors Brewing Company. He has held several management positions including president of Europe, Middle East and Africa at Nike, and in the financial division at Disney. Seasoned global executive and author of The Disruptors' Feast, an Amazon best-seller, van Paasschen has a deep understanding of trends that are reshaping the global economy. Originally from Europe, van Paasschen holds dual United States and Dutch citizenship, speaks five languages, and has visited 115 countries.With over 20 years of technology experience, Rademaker has worked for different IT companies including Microsoft in the Netherlands and Europe. She is enthusiastic about customer-centric strategies, and likes to focus on how technology influences people's behavior. Rademaker joined Nexxworks in 2016 where she inspires companies how to act upon The Day After Tomorrow. She is an expert on extreme customer centricity, and educates people about new business models and technology to help their businesses lead in this age of disruption."HFTP is proud to host two keynote heavyweights at HITEC Amsterdam this April," said HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe. "Both speakers have European roots and international expertise in hospitality and technology, and are guaranteed to inspire audiences with new ideas and concepts that will help evolve the future of our industry."HFTP will produce three HITEC events in 2018. HITEC Amsterdam will take place from 11-13 April at the RAI Convention Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The largest HITEC Houston will take place from 18-21 June at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas USA. HITEC Dubai will take place from 5-6 December. For more information about HITEC and HFTP's other international activities, contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at education@hftp.org or visit www.hftp.org and www.hftp.org/hitec.About HITEC Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) is the world's largest and oldest hospitality technology exposition and conference brand. HITEC offers a unique combination of top-notch education, and brings together the brightest minds and hottest technologies from across the globe to one place. The unparalleled event offers attendees essential education, access to top hospitality technology industry experts and the resources to find cost-effective ways to improve company bottom lines. Combined with the intimate opportunities to connect with fellow professionals, HITEC has everything to enhance your career. Historically hosted annually in a different city throughout the United States, HFTP decided to break tradition in 2017 by hosting three HITEC events all taking place outside of U.S. borders- in Toronto, Amsterdam and Dubai. This was the first time the global association's largest HITEC event - featuring thousands of hospitality professionals from around the world -took place outside of the United States. For more information about HITEC, visit www.hitec.org. Follow HITEC on social media: Facebook (@HITECconference); LinkedIn; Twitter (@HFTP); Instagram (@HFTP_HITEC). Stay tuned to HFTP's industry-specific, informational news sites: HFTP News, HITEC Bytes, HFTP Club Bytes and HFTP Finance Bytes. HITEC event photos are available on Flickr, and HFTP event videos are available on YouTube.About HFTP Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), established in 1952, is a hospitality nonprofit association headquartered in Austin, Texas USA with offices in Hong Kong, United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Dubai. HFTP is recognized as the spokes group for the finance and technology segments of the hospitality industry with an international network of members and stakeholders. HFTP uniquely understands the industry's pressing issues, and assists its stakeholders in finding solutions to their challenges more efficiently than any organization. HFTP offers expert networks, educational resources, career development programs, research, leadership opportunities and conferences and events. HFTP produces international events throughout the year, including the world's largest hospitality technology tradeshow and conference brand: HITEC. The association also owns the world's only hospitality-specific search engine: PineappleSearch.com. For more information about HFTP, visit www.hftp.org.For the latest news, visit the HFTP News page at news.hftp.org and the HFTP Connect blog at blog.hftp.org. Follow HFTP on social media: Facebook(@HFTPGlobal); LinkedIn; Twitter (@HFTP); Instagram (@HFTP_HITEC). Stay tuned to HFTP's industry-specific, informational news sites: HFTP News, HITEC Bytes, HFTP Club Bytes and HFTP Finance Bytes. HFTP event photos are available on Flickr, and HFTP event videos are available on YouTube.###

Hospitality Meets Digitalisation

WORLDHOTELS 1 February 2018
Frankfurt -- The hotel industry is seeing significant digital transformation. With a new generation of travellers who want innovation and technology in their rooms, many hotels put technology first. From robots in the lobby to free mobile phones in every room - Worldhotels properties around the world keep up with the digital economy. Here are 16 hotels that are embracing the latest trends in hospitality. Free mobiles phones at Hotel Opera Zurich, Zurich, SwitzerlandHotel Opera Zurich is one of the first hotels in Switzerland to offer free mobile phones in all rooms. The phones can be used in- and outside of the hotel and offer free internet access, free national and international calls. This service is particularly useful for international guests, including business travellers. Furthermore, they work as local guides by offering local insider tips. Due to a butler service button, devices provide information on services in the hotel such as restaurants. Furthermore, the hotel offers an online check-in via smartphone and laptop for their guests. Soon they will also guests will also be able to use their smartphones as their room keys.The Chinese hotels Hongqiao Jin Jiang Hotel in Shanghai, The Royal Garden in Kowloon, the Lan Kwai Fong Hotel in Hong Kong, The Singapore hotels Carlton Hotel Singapore, The Carlton City Hotel Singapore and Goodwood Park Hotel as well as the following French hotels also added smartphones to their rooms: In the Parisian hotels Kube Hotel Paris, 1K Paris and Villa Pantheon mobile devices are also free to use.Robots at Dorsett Shanghai, Shanghai, ChinaThey are fun, informative and interactive: Dorsett Shanghai has welcomed two high-tech additions into its hotel guest service team. The two robots are equipped with voice and touch screen and provide information on hotel facilities and the neighborhood. During They also entertain during event break time with song and dance performances.High-tech personal assistants at ACME Hotel, Chicago, United StatesA high-tech personal assistant waiting in the room? The ACME hotel Chicago fulfils the dream of tech-savvy guests. Upon check-in, guests find the voice-controlled Amazon Echo waiting in the room. Voice activated by "Alexa, Ask Acme," the Amazon Echo provides intelligent personal assistance, including room service, information about the weather, traffic and ACME's free morning coffee delivery, setting alarm, extra pillows, music via a Bluetooth connection and maintenance requests. ACME even offers more extra's for the techy-inclined, like Hot-Spots To-Go, keyless entry into their room via a mobile key app, Snap Chat Spectacles and Apple watches that guests can check out for free.In-room tablets at Hotel Damier, Kortrijk, The NetherlandsIn every room, Hotel Damier offers tablets at their guests' disposal. Guests can use them to call for room service, play games and access the weather channel. Hotel staff can directly send messages and push offers to their guests via the tablets.More hotels that offer tablets or iPad minis in each room are dana hotel and spa, Chicago, United States, FOUND:RE Phoenix, Phoenix, United States and The Woodlands Resort, The Woodlands, United States.

HFTP Launches Certification Advisory Program (CAP) to Benefit CHAE and CHTP Applicants

HFTP 26 January 2018
International association Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) recently introduced its new Certification Advisory Program (CAP), which is designed to provide guidance to Certified Hospitality Accountant Executive (CHAE) and Certified Hospitality Technology Professional (CHTP) applicants.The inaugural program will pair HFTP certification candidates with HFTP members who hold an active HFTP designation. The advisors will help and support candidates via one-to-one interactions as a supplemental review option for the certification exams. Approved CAP advisors can earn HFTP education credits to help them meet their designation maintenance requirements."HFTP certification demonstrates superior performance - in both technology and accounting - to the industry," said HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe. "The CAP program is a great opportunity for certification designees and applicants to elevate their professionalism and leadership development. Having the guidance, encouragement and support of a trusted mentor will help mentees reach new career goals."HFTP offers the only designations for finance and technology professionals who are working in the hospitality industry. Both the CHAE and CHTP designations require professionals to sit for an initial competency exam, and complete continuing education credits for each renewal cycle. Qualification for the exams is based on level of education and experience in the industry; student programs are also available.If you are interested in being considered for a CAP advisor, please submit a CAP application today. For more information about the Certification Advisory Program or HFTP certifications, email HFTP Certification Manager Robin Bogdon at robin.bogdon@hftp.org or visit www.hftp.org. For immediate information, visit the FAQ pages for both CHTP and CHAE certifications.About HFTP Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) established in 1952, is an international, nonprofit association, headquartered in Austin, Texas USA, with offices in Hong Kong, United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Dubai. HFTP is recognized as the spokes group for the finance and technology segments of the hospitality industry with members and stakeholders spanning across the globe. HFTP uniquely understands the industry's pressing issues and assists its stakeholders in finding solutions to their challenges more efficiently than any organization. It does this via its expert networks, research, certification programs, information resources and conferences/events such as HITEC. HFTP also owns the world's only hospitality-specific search engine, PineappleSearch.com. For more information about HFTP, email membership@hftp.org or download the HFTP/HITEC media kit. Follow HFTP/HITEC on HFTP Connect, Facebook (@HFTPGlobal; @HITECconference), LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP), Instagram (@HFTP_HITEC), Flickr and YouTube for the latest news. Stay tuned to HFTP's industry-specific, informational news sites: HFTP News, HITEC Bytes, HFTP Club Bytes and HFTP Finance Bytes.

Choice Hotels Introduces Lodging Industry's First Major Central Reservation System In 30 Years

Choice 25 January 2018
Building on a legacy of innovations, Choice Hotels International, Inc. (NYSE: CHH), announced today the transition to choiceEDGE, the first new global reservation system (GRS) from a hotel company in over 30 years. The state-of-the-art distribution platform supports more than 6,500 Choice Hotels properties globally. The choiceEDGE platform leads the way for the industry's shift towards accelerated global digital communication and guest experience personalization through data analytics.choiceEDGE and its cloud-based, technically advanced design is built to effectively handle the current and future volume on digital channels, and is the most advanced GRS in the lodging industry. The platform manages all distribution for Choice Hotels, optimizing rate, inventory, availability, shopping, booking and reservations for its website, mobile apps and third-party distribution partners.This transformational project, which began in 2014, is led by the Choice Hotels technology innovation team, based in Phoenix, Arizona, and is a milestone initiative for the company and recently appointed President and CEO Pat Pacious."There has been an explosion of growth in shopping requests and digital travel sales worldwide over the last decade. The industry's old reservation systems are not designed to handle the volume and velocity of transactions we see today in the digital space," said Pacious. "choiceEDGE harnesses the power of cloud computing and big data analytics to help deliver value to both guests and franchisees, and leads the industry in capabilities. Through personalization and machine-learning, we are now able to create the intuitive experience guests want and provide data-driven, holistic solutions to boost efficiencies for our franchisees and throughout our value chain."Flexibility, scale and speed to market are critical components of the choiceEDGE platform's unprecedented design. As Choice Hotels continues its growth in the upscale and midscale segments, and internationally, the choiceEDGE product will support its expanded system size, as well as multi-channel distribution and mobile strategies.choiceEDGE features:Faster-to-market new products, features and third-party connectivity.Cloud-based scalability, stability and performance delivered through a "reservation-as-a-service" model.Preconfigured, state-of-the-art connectivity with online travel agents, global distribution systems and property management systems, enabling rapid onboarding of hotels and instant value delivery.Capability to add selling disparate inventory types, including hotel rooms, meeting rooms, vacation rentals and package offerings - or any space for any duration."This new platform showcases our talent and the forward-thinking, fast-paced and collaborative nature at Choice Hotels, mirroring that of any leading technology incubator," said Brian Kirkland, vice president of engineering at Choice Hotels. "choiceEDGE strengthens our core capabilities, and positions us and our franchisees to capitalize on the growth our industry is experiencing, while enabling the efficient future delivery of new initiatives."Choice has already onboarded multiple distributors onto the advanced platform. Traci Mercer, senior vice president, global lodging, ground and sea, Sabre Travel Network, stated, "The new global reservation system, choiceEDGE, is helping Choice Hotels and Sabre gain seamless distribution of the broad and rich content for our buyers."The choiceEDGE platform is the latest innovation by Choice Hotels and is part of a portfolio of tools and technology-driven solutions. Choice Hotels has pioneered some of the industry's greatest developments, including the first online booking platform and first mobile app.

Top 10 Must-Have Hotel Technologies in 2018

StayNTouch Inc. 25 January 2018
According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. Studies validate that dynamic shifts in the hotel industry are taking place in 2018 - with the dominance of digital and mobile.It is safe to say that hotel success and technology go hand in hand and hotels must step up their "technological game" if they hope to differentiate themselves and engage with guests. Being ahead of the curve will not only increase your profits, doing something new will get you extra exposure, drive loyalty and bring in new guests.Explore the top 10 must-have technologies below to determine if your hotel technology is leading, competitive or lagging.1. Self-ServiceGartner predicts that by 2020 a customer will manage 85% of the relationship with an enterprise without interacting with a human, so make sure to give your guests the direction and tools they need to accomplish tasks themselves. Topping that list for the hotel industry is mobile and self-service check-in and check-out options (via mobile and lobby stations). Self-service, if done correctly, allows hotels to operate much more efficiently while at the same time providing guests with an experience that they are comfortable with. Look for an advanced cloud-based PMS with useful functions to enable self-service options such as check-in/out, mobile room service requests, late check-out requests, extended bookings, and so on.2. Cybersecurity & ComplianceYour hotel data may be at risk of cyber-attacks if you rely on unsecured technology. With the rise of the Internet of Things and the increased usage of online tools, cyber-attacks have become more frequent and prevalent. As the enforcement deadline for GDPR looms closer, it is imperative that hotels upgrade their data protection processes, or they face the risk of significant financial penalties. Hotels accepting credit card payments must already be compliant with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS). Hotels should invest in cybersecurity technology but also provide their staff with appropriate training programs. A cloud-based PMS can be more secure than an on-premise based platform because it takes liability away from the hotel by using tokenization with ongoing updates and latest encryption included as part of the SaaS service agreement.3. Virtual Reality & Augmented RealityIn addition to an explosion of mobile apps to track loyalty points, streamline check-in and open doors, more hotels now offer virtual reality to preview their property. Virtual reality provides an immersive experience that inspires real-world action which translates into real revenue. While big brands may use expensive connected glasses or mounted headsets, many hotels rely on proprietary apps, smartphones and search engines to do the heavy lifting. Virtual reality is rising in popularity, so hotels looking to attract millennials and younger generations in the years to come need to get on board sooner rather than later.To access all 10 Must-Have Hotel Technologies in 2018, download the free guide here.About StayNTouchStayNTouch is a "Software as a Service" hotel property management systems (PMS) company focused on developing solutions that help hotels raise service levels, drive revenues, reduce costs, and ultimately change the way hotels can captivate their guests. Developed with mobility in mind, the pioneering platform enables hotels to create long lasting relationships with their guests by delivering personalized service levels that today's guests require. StayNTouch operates on tablets and smartphones, empowering hotel employees to go above and beyond in exceeding guest expectations at every touch point.Powering over 85,000 rooms globally, our game-changing solution frees hotels from the constraints of legacy or premise systems, dramatically streamlines operations, increases margins, and revolutionizes how front-line staff connect with guests. StayNTouch is a trusted partner to many of the most forward thinking hotels, resorts, casinos and chains in the industry, including Yotel, Zoku Amsterdam, Valencia Hotels, The Freehand Hotels, First Hotels, Modus hotels and the Fontainebleau Miami Beach.To learn more watch our video "THE NEW WAY... TO HOTEL!"

Adria Hotel Forum Programme

Adria Hotel Forum 25 January 2018
The sixth edition of the Adria Hotel Forum will be held on February 14th and 15th 2018. in Sheraton hotel in Zagreb on the following theme: OUR OWN RESPONSIBILITY.In business environment, the Forum is defined as the only regional conference that global hotel professionals monitor. For this reason, the next AHF edition is related to the geopolitical situation in Europe and the main questions: Are we managing growth or is it "happening" to us? And are we competitive?Day 1: Wednesday 14th February 201809.00 Official opening of Adria Hotel Forum 201809.30 Economic outlook09.45 Mediterranean and European outlook in 5 years time10.15 Croatia investment possibilities10.27 Montenegro investment possibilities10.35 Hotel Investment Attractiveness Index for the region and look into investors' strategiesThe full programme you can check here.Until now AHF has gathered more than 1500 attendees, 200 panelists, 90 round-table discussion sand presentations, and more than 140 partners.

Why Human Hotel Live Chat is Better Than Chabots

Lodging Interactive 25 January 2018
You'd choose the person, every time. Everyone would.Live chat is no different. Live chat with real, actual people will be superior than conversations with chatbots on the other side every single time. It may cost a little bit more to pay someone to handle the live chat, but it's a cost that will provide a return on investment multiple times over.Here's how...Chatbots Are Stuck to Pre-programmed ResponsesChatbots aren't "smart," even if you program them really, really well. They are limited to only answer questions they've been programmed to identify, and they can only provide a set number of answers to those limited questions.Sure, when a customer asks about amenities offered by your hotel, they can spout off information about the pool and complimentary breakfast. Your chatbot will fall short, however, when potential customers ask if there's a limit on towels at the pool or if their breakfast can be gluten-free, dairy-free, and pork-free.Alt image text: human live chat vs chatbotsThese small, detailed questions won't matter to 99% of customers, but the answer could decide whether or not that potential customer books with you. And while only one person will ask each of these questions, an enormous chunk of customers reaching out will have a different question that matters to them. It's impossible to program for that.People Understand NuanceChatbots only spit out binary responses. Yes and no, we have that or we don't, I do or don't understand the request, was or wasn't this answer helpful? Human beings understand nuance in a way that chatbots never will. Instead of "yes and no," we can provide "maybe, let's take a look."When it comes to hotel bookings--which may include conference, event, or wedding bookings--there could easily be many grey areas. For example can you extend the number of discounted rooms for our event?A chatbot will only routinely cycle through policies you've taught it; it is incapable of nuance or negotiation, which could be crucial to landing large bookings.People Actually Care Whoever said business isn't personal was flat out wrong. Business is immensely personal, and if customers feel like you don't care about them, they'll go straight to your competition. Chatbots, by nature, cannot care. At best they'll appear polite, but they won't have the capability to go above and beyond like a dedicated customer service specialist; they'll just replay the same menu of options on a loop.Alt text: why hotels shouldn't use chatbots A real person will care that your customer is stressed, or upset, or confused. Since you could lose these customers quickly without turning around their experience, it is essential to have a dedicated representative ready to tackle their problem with them.Long story short: you want to invest in human live chat instead of relying on chatbots. You can't afford not to.Lodging Interactive, through its CoMMingle Live Chat service, offers hotels a fully managed and affordable live chat service available 7 days a week. For more information on Lodging Interactive and CoMMingle Live Chat for Hotels or call 877-291-4411 Ext 701.

h2c Research: The State of Hotel Central Reservations Systems

h2c GmbH 23 January 2018
This h2c Research Paper is based on the findings of h2c's Global Hotel CRS Study and aims to shed more light on the current CRS landscape and the requirements of related system. The study covers Europe, Middle East & Africa, The Americas and Asia Pacific, and has a fair distribution across hotel categories by star rating, type (including voluntary hotel chains, representation companies, transparent brands, and independent hotel groups), location (city, resort, and convention) and size (international versus regional chains). The 92 surveyed hotel chains, whereof the majority is regional, represent more than 11,000 properties and 1.7 million rooms worldwide.As dissatisfaction with the existing CRS is often the major driver for change, the overall study results should help to highlight the hotel chains' requirements in more detail by hotel type and market specifics.Upcoming Research: h2c's Global PMS Studyh2c's recently completed Global CRS Study revealed that over the next three years hoteliers expect a major shift in systems, where guest profile management will be handled. Digitalization, direct sales capabilities via the IBE and voice services are among the other major changes which could potentially impact the PMS's role. Today, multiple platforms with different data silos lead to increased workloads, complicated processes, less flexibility and higher costs. Often, the depth of PMS integration with corresponding systems is not optimized for hotel chain requirements exceeding the basic standards.If you are interested in learning more about h2c's Global PMS study, please contact Michaela.

HFTP Launches New GDPR Bytes Site, an Addition to its Online News Portfolio

HFTP 19 January 2018
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), an international nonprofit hospitality association, announced today the launch of its new GDPR Bytes website. Powered by Hsyndicate, an electronic media-hub based in The Netherlands, GDPR Bytes is an aggregated content destination where users will find the latest news all in one place. The cross-platform site serves as a daily news outlet that brings together specific publications, reports, feature articles, white papers and more.As hospitality companies conducting business in Europe prepare to make operational changes to conform with the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), HFTP and its HDPO Task Force, consisting of 23 industry experts from around the globe, have been working to increase GDPR awareness as well as develop educational resources to benefit the industry at large. In addition to GDPR Bytes, HFTP has released an extensive range of available GDPR tools including, but not limited to: publications; compliance tools; webinars; blogs; podcasts; more."In order to comply with GDPR, EU-based organizations - as well as any organization handling personal information from EU citizens - should guarantee that proper policies and procedures are being followed," said Frank Wolfe, CEO at HFTP. "GDPR tools and resources, created by HFTP and the HFTP HDPO Task Force, are immediately available to help organizations successfully navigate how to implement the necessary changes, and reduce the risk of non-compliance."GDPR Bytes allows companies to publish their content to the site; registered users receive the additional benefit of having their content published to both GDPR Bytes as well as PineappleSearch.com, the world's only hospitality-specific search engine. For those interested in publishing content or advertising on GDPR Bytes, please contact HFTP Chief Marketing Officer Jennifer Lee, CAE at jennifer.lee@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4023.For more information, visit www.hftp.org and https://gdpr.hftp.org. View HFTP's other information-specific news sites: HFTP News; HITEC Bytes; HFTP Club Bytes; HFTP Finance Bytes.About HFTP Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) established in 1952, is an international, nonprofit association, headquartered in Austin, Texas USA, with offices in Hong Kong, United Kingdom, The Netherlands and Dubai. HFTP is recognized as the spokes group for the finance and technology segments of the hospitality industry with members and stakeholders spanning across the globe. HFTP uniquely understands the industry's pressing issues and assists its stakeholders in finding solutions to their challenges more efficiently than any organization. It does this via its expert networks, research, certification programs, information resources and conferences/events such as HITEC. HFTP also owns the world's only hospitality-specific search engine, PineappleSearch.com. For more information about HFTP, email membership@hftp.org or download the HFTP/HITEC media kit. Follow HFTP/HITEC on HFTP Connect, Facebook (@HFTPGlobal; @HITECconference), LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP), Instagram (@HFTP_HITEC), Flickr and YouTube for the latest news. Stay tuned to HFTP's industry-specific, informational news sites: HFTP News, HITEC Bytes, HFTP Club Bytes and HFTP Finance Bytes.##END##

ITB's eTravel World features tomorrow's technology trends

Messe Berlin GmbH 19 January 2018
At the eTravel World at ITB Berlin visitors to the eTravel Stage and eTravel Lab can again find out about the innovations of the future and their potential impact on the travel industry. With its wealth of knowledge about tomorrow's technology this marketplace is the most important in this segment, and can be found in Halls 6.1 and 7.1c. The focus will be on future-oriented topics such as the blockchain, social media and voice recognition. New events this year include the Hospitality Tech Forum, featuring hospitality industry topics, and the Start-up Day in cooperation with Verband Internet Reisevertrieb (VIR), Germany's leading association for the online travel industry. On 7 March 2018 at 10.30 a.m. on the stage in Hall 6.1 David Ruetz, head of ITB Berlin, and the humanoid robot Pepper will jointly open the eTravel World.This year, for the first time, exclusive hosts for the day will present the programme, among them the entrepreneur and consultant Axel Jockwer and Prof. Dr. Claudia Brozel of Fachhochschule Eberswalde. After a brief welcome by the Hospitality Industry Club the Wednesday will kick off with a lecture entitled 'Can curiosity beat robots?' by Julia Jung and Stefan Niemeyer of neusta eTourism. The two experts will examine the elements needed for artificial intelligence to awaken users' curiosity. Using concrete examples of best practices they will demonstrate how so-called curiosity marketing can be successful. In his lecture Alex Bainbridge, editor and CTO of DestinationCTO, will talk about driverless cars and their marketing potential for tour operators. Afterwards, Tanja Weinekotter of Marketing + Event Support will examine the possibilities for using social media as a booking tool.Thursday, 8 March 2018 will witness the launch of a new event. From 2 to 5.30 p.m. at the eTravel World the ITB Hospitality Tech Forum at the eTravel Lab will take place for the first time. The afternoon's events will be hosted by Nick Vivion, the editorial director of tnooz. Events will include a lecture by Conichi founder and CEO Maximilian Waldmann who will illustrate why a certain 'sexy' image is still needed for business travel. Following this, Andriew Lim of the Hotel School Den Haag will examine the challenges and opportunities of the blockchain. Using concrete examples he will demonstrate successful uses of this new technology. In other lectures speakers will look at artificial intelligence in the context of the hospitality industry, personalised pricing policies and individual communications between hotels and their customers.On Friday, in cooperation with Verband Internet Reisevertrieb (VIR), the focus will be entirely on industry newcomers. At the newly launched eTravel Start-up Day company founders from Europe, America and Asia will meet on the eTravel Stage in Hall 6.1. At a start-up competition and several sessions the new digital community will present its travel technology innovations. On Wednesday the VIR will also act as partner of the Investors Panel.This year the eTravel World was able to secure tnooz as its exclusive media partner. During the course of ITB Berlin 2018 its journalists will be conducting numerous interviews with fascinating industry personalities and streaming them live. Sponsors and partners of the eTravel World include amongst others Aeroguest, AirDNA, Berner+Becker, Emarsys, Flightroutes, GDX Travel, Hospitality Industry Club, Juvigo, Myhotel, Outdooractive, Safecharge, SDL, travelport, uCloudlink, MTA Masai, Vsourz, 365 Secom Italia, Sojern, Teleticketing and Phocuswright.You can find out more about the eTravel World at www.itb-berlin.com/etravel.About ITB Berlin and the ITB Berlin ConventionITB Berlin 2018 will be taking place from Wednesday, 7 to Sunday, 11 March, and from Wednesday to Friday will be open to trade visitors only. ITB Berlin is the World's Leading Travel Trade Show. In 2017 a total of 10,000 companies and organizations from 184 countries exhibited their products and services to around 169,000 visitors, who included 109,000 trade visitors. Parallel with the show the ITB Berlin Convention, the largest event of its kind, will be held from Wednesday, 7 to Saturday, 10 March. Zambia is the Convention & Culture Partner of ITB Berlin 2018. The World Tourism Cities Federation (WTCF) is Co-Host of the ITB Berlin Convention. Ctrip.com International, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of the Republic of Turkey are Platinum Sponsors. Admission to the ITB Berlin Convention is free for trade visitors and exhibitors. For more information please visit www.itb-berlin.com, www.itb-convention.com and the ITB Social Media Newsroom.

Hotel Tech in 2018: Tools and technologies to remove friction and deliver value

Expedia, Inc. 18 January 2018
Simply keeping up with the digital expectations of today's tech-savvy consumer is no longer an option. Exceeding those expectations is a travel industry imperative and an opportunity for hotels to focus on the only thing that truly matters to consumers: the end-to-end guest experience. One reason for the growing consumer adoption of new technologies is their growing digital impatience and expectation for instant responses, answers and solutions to their queries and purchasing requests. Underscoring this is the growing adoption of digital assistants. Today, 62 percent of consumers are comfortable with an AI application responding to their query, which provides fast and efficient results.AI and Machine Learning: Chatbots Become Ubiquitous2018 will be a year where AI, in the form of machine learning where computers learn without being explicitly programmed, becomes not just a futuristic technology, but an integrated and valuable everyday tool. Chatbots are already enabling deeper and easier traveler communication - and they are expanding daily to different mediums: chat, social channels, voice assistants and more. And new tools and technologies in this space will allow hoteliers to connect with consumers in deeper and more meaningful ways, and with increased personalization. By better knowing each customer and intuitively providing them with the information they want, we're freeing up time, and starting off their travel experience right with frictionless discovery, search and booking processes.Raising Our Voice: Alexa and Google Go MainstreamWe have been hearing it for years. Voice-enabled digital assistants are poised to not just change the travel industry, but nearly every industry we touch in our lives. By 2021, there will be 7.5 billion digital assistants in the world. Digital assistants today are giving us weather and traffic information, and entertainment content - but they are also enabling us to search hotels, check the status of flights, and more. As an industry, we need to be at the forefront of testing voice skills, and aligning with the growing traveler adoption of this technology, to ensure we're equipped and at full performance when it becomes ubiquitous.Amazon's Alexa, Google Home and others have already sold more than 20 million devices (a number expected to double in less than a year) (CIRP)In 2017, 35.6 million Americans used a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month. That's a jump of more than 128 percent over last year. (eMarketer)By 2020, 30 percent of web searches will be done without a screen (Gartner)84 percent of users love that their digital assistants are available all the time (Accenture)39 percent of global voice smartphone users are excited by a future where digital assistants anticipate their needs and take action (Speakeasy) Seeking Experiences Seventy-two percent of consumers today seek experiences over things. Coined as the "experience economy," this desire for collecting memories versus items continues to grow across all generations. For hoteliers, this presents a great opportunity to target consumers who in addition to traveling to new locations, are attending events - concerts, sports and shows.Since 1987, the share of consumer spending on live experiences and events relative to total U.S. consumer spending increased 70 percent. In 2018, consumers will not just book a hotel room, they will book the experience that happens during their time in the market - from dinner reservations, to tours and activities to entertainment. Given their position in the purchase funnel, hotels have the unique opportunity to make a guest's stay - not just on property, but also off property - differentiated and memorable. Providing the guest with an insider's guide to your city/location, along with top attractions and off-the-beaten-path suggestions, will build true loyalty and engagement, and help deliver on the experiences that today's consumer craves. Packing PowerMarketplaces rule the world. Just look at Amazon, the one-stop shop now for nearly any consumer desire - practical or otherwise. Consumers expect a seamless, one-stop experience in nearly every area of their lives. A recent multi-generational study by Brand Expedia shows that 80 percent of travelers find it useful to book all their trip components together, and for Gen Z, that jumps to a massive 87 percent. Convenience is king. The upside for hotels is that offering rooms in "package bookings", alongside flights and cars, typically means higher ADR, longer booking windows and fewer cancellations. Plus, consumers can streamline their research and booking into one seamless purchase. Packages really are a win-win. Weathering the Storms From travel alerts to duty of care, helping leisure and business travelers prepare for and weather disasters before, during and after a storm is a meaningful and valued service. If there was anything the travel industry observed broadly in 2017, it was the impact weather and natural disasters, as well as changes to national visa and travel policies, can have on travel - and the importance of traveler safety, communication and satisfaction during these travel disruptions.During an executive roundtable at the 2017 Phocuswright Conference, industry leaders discussed the importance of having a contingency plan in place before a crisis happens. Being prepared helps the travel industry - and our valued customers - bounce back more quickly after a period of disruption. Making the rebooking process easy and efficient, as well as supporting those travelers stranded in a time of crisis, is just one way we as an industry can help alleviate concerns. Aiding in real time, whether by helping rebook trips or diverting travelers to non-impacted markets, is not only time-saving, but can also be life-saving as well. For the business travelers, providing duty of care information - alerting HR departments and managers as to which company representatives are in the impacted region, where they are and plans to assure their safe stay and return, is also critical to riding out the storm together.

Buddy Altus of Avis Budget Group Elected as Vice-Chairperson of OpenTravel

HFTP 18 January 2018
OpenTravel Alliance (OpenTravel), the travel industry's only distribution specification standards development organization covering multiple segments, recently elected Buddy Altus, vice president of distribution at Avis Budget Group, as the vice-chairman of its board of directors. Altus most recently served as a board member representing the rental car category. OpenTravel's board of directors has a mission to help the association enable the future of travel by driving the evolving digital experience for consumers around the world."I am looking forward to continuing Avis Budget Group's leadership role with OpenTravel Alliance," said Altus. "As a founding member, we hold the association in high regard and are proud that our participation has benefited the industry, the association's members and especially customers. It is an exciting time in travel with so much change occurring in the mobility space. We will continue our contribution to the travel API ecosystem as OpenTravel leads the industry in developing and exposing services as part of the API economy - making it even faster and easier for partners to contact and improve the entire customer journey."Altus' responsibilities include managing product development and business from third party e-commerce applications and services, including: ABG's XML interface; private label booking engines used by airlines; corporate accounts; travel agencies; ABG mobile sites; and global distribution systems. His experience prior to Avis Budget Group includes e-commerce companies in music, content protection and group buying. Additionally, Altus spent 10 years at American Express where he was part of the team that developed AXI, American Express' first corporate booking tool. Before he moved to travel and e-commerce he developed programming language software at Intermetric."We are thrilled for Buddy to serve as vice-chair of OpenTravel, succeeding Susanne Auinger who has recently been elected as chairperson of the board," said Mike Tinkey, CEO at OpenTravel. "Buddy brings the rental car perspective along with distribution experience in interoperability with air, lodging and rental car utilizing OpenTravel standards. He is a visionary, innovative, collaborative and disciplined leader who assists the board with strategic and practical applications of OpenTravel standards globally with a rental car focus."For more information about OpenTravel Alliance, please contact Jessica Blankenship at media@opentravel.org or visit http://opentravel.org.About OpenTravel AllianceOpenTravel Alliance is passionate about solving the problems inherent with connecting multiple systems within the complex travel distribution arena. Our mission is to enable the future of travel by driving the evolving digital experience for consumers. OpenTravel Alliance creates, expands and drives adoption of open specifications, including but not limited to the use of XML, for the electronic exchange of business information among all sectors of the travel industry.OpenTravel Alliance is comprised of companies representing airlines, car rental firms, hotels, cruise lines, railways, leisure suppliers, service providers, tour operators, travel agencies, solutions providers, technology companies and distributors. Tens of thousands of OpenTravel Alliance message structures are in use, carrying tens of millions of messages between trading partners every day.OpenTravel Alliance is a not-for-profit trade association, founded in 1999 by travel companies, with a primary focus on the creation of electronic message structures to facilitate communication between the disparate systems in the global travel industry. For more information on OpenTravel Alliance membership, new products, or projects, please visit http://www.opentravel.org or email media@opentravel.org.

YOTEL Launches YOTELPAD - A Smarter Way of Living

YOTEL 16 January 2018
Five new YOTELPAD deals mark YOTEL's arrival in the extended stay segment reinforcing the brand's ability to optimise space through clever design and smart technology.YOTEL today announced their foray into the extended stay segment with the launch of the new YOTELPAD brand. Building on the clever design principles of YOTEL and YOTELAIR cabins, YOTELPAD translates the essence of luxury serviced apartments into purposefully designed compact homes, known as 'PADs', fulfilling the requirements of the global citizen at an affordable price."Following the successful roll out of YOTELAIR and YOTEL, we saw a natural opportunity to rethink the traditional extended stay segment in the same fashion we disrupted conventional hotel models," said Hubert Viriot - YOTEL CEO.YOTELPAD offers perfectly designed living solutions by optimising space and technology. Standard PADs will start from 20 sqm (215 sqft), but larger PADs will also be available and will feature YOTEL's adjustable SmartBeds, comfortable work and relaxing areas, luxury en-suite bathrooms, fully equipped kitchenettes and ample storage space. YOTEL's signature Technowall will enable PAD guests to easily connect and personalise the space to create a homely atmosphere.Commenting, Jo Berrington - VP Brand said, "YOTELPAD will transcend traditional boundaries with a blend of hotel-quality standards and home-like comforts, all achieved through our signature design DNA making the most out of compact spaces. Not only does this allow each guest or owner to have a fully functional private PAD, but with the added benefit to work, connect, relax and socialise in multifunctional and fun spaces, creating a strong sense of community," continued Berrington.Communal areas and amenities will be programmed to the local environment and can include 24/7 gyms, bike and gear storage, Amazon lockers, laundry, home cinema and library as well as YOTEL's signature Club Lounge, ideal for co-working, meetings and entertaining friends or colleagues."True to the YOTEL brand, PAD will be underpinned by our passion for technology and innovation; our seamless digital guest experience delivered via the YOTELPAD app. In addition to the obvious app functionality of booking and checking in and out, our app will be your digital key and a go to place for ordering amenities and 'food-to-go'. Acting as a pocket size virtual concierge, the app will connect you directly to a range of services and experiences in the local community," continued Berrington.YOTELPAD will launch globally with the five projects already confirmed in North America, Europe and the Middle East. The first two YOTELPADs to be announced are in Park City (Utah) and Downtown Miami. YOTELPADPark City is located at Park City Mountain, the largest ski resort in the US and will be developed by Replay Destinations, one of the most innovative developer of destination resort projects in North America. The second is in Downtown Miami and will form part of a mixed-use development including 250 YOTEL cabins and 208 PADs by the Aria Development Group who focuses on building and acquiring premier residential and mixed-use properties."The added benefit of introducing YOTELPAD to our portfolio, is that it not only allows us to enter a new market segment, but also enables us to operate in new locations, not naturally suited to our YOTEL and YOTELAIRbrands. Our recent partnership with REPLAY has been extraordinary - realizing just how much potential there is for our new brand in the destination resort market. We are confident that YOTELPAD Park City will be a tremendous success and we are now looking at multiple opportunities with REPLAY," said Hubert Viriot, YOTEL CEO.YOTELPAD Park City and Miami will be followed closely by two YOTELPADs in the Geneva Lake region to be developed by M3 Real Estate and YOTEL Dubai in Business Bay, will also feature YOTELPADs as part of their developments."Alongside our existing brands, we see huge potential for the development of YOTELPAD globally. YOTELPADs can be stand-alone or form part of a mixed-use development including a YOTEL. Each PAD will be operated by YOTEL and can be owned by individual or institutional investors," concluded Viriot.For more Information: http://www.yotelpad.com

HTNG Announces Companies Attending the Upcoming Middle East Conference

HTNG 9 January 2018
Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) announces companies registered to attend this year's Middle East Conference on 23-24 January at the Jumeirah Mina A'Salam, Dubai.Companies in attendance include*:AccorHotelsAlcatel-Lucent EnterpriseAmadeusAruba NetworksAssa Abloy HospitalityBeldenCalixdailypointDanmagiDeloitteDubai Parks & ResortsE. Horner & Associates Pty LtdElfiq NetworksELKO EPEmirates Academy of Hospitality Management (EAHM)EnseoExterityGlion Institute of Higher EducationGuestTekHFTPHospitality & Retail Systems (HRS)Hospitality Technology ConsultingHospitality Technology Network, LLCHotel News Middle EastHyatt Hotels CorporationIBM CorporationIkusiiLumioIntelityJumeirah GroupJungKathrein Solutions GmbHKempinski HotelsKerzner International Resorts Inc.KNX AssociationLUX* Resortsm3connect GmbHMandarin Oriental Hotel GroupMarriott InternationalMCOMSMesserschmitt Systems AGMitel Connected GuestsMovenpick Hotels & ResortsNeorchaOtrumPassmanPrologic FirstPwCRadisson Blue Edwardian HotelsRotana Hotels Management CorporationRuckus Wireless, Inc.SabreSalto SystemsSamsotechTelevesThe Conceptual GroupTravTalk Middle EastUbiq Global SolutionsWillard Solutions InternationalXn Protel Systems*list as-of 3 January, 2018Conference registration is open to any full-time employee of a company who owns, manages or franchises a hotel. For all other industry participants, HTNG membership is required. Technology providers, consultants and others who are not HTNG members should check with HTNG's Membership Department to ensure eligibility.Registration and more information for the 2018 HTNG Middle East Conference can be found here.

HITEC Houston Online Registration and Housing Bureau Open; Advisory Council Announced

HFTP 9 January 2018
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP), producers of the world's largest Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC), has announced that attendee registration for its HITEC Houston is now available online as well as hotel reservations. Selected by HFTP leadership for their experience and expertise, the HITEC Houston Advisory Council will determine event's education program. HITEC Houston will be the second, and largest, HITEC event of 2018, and will take place from June 18-21 at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas USA."The selection process for HFTP's HITEC Advisory Council's is highly competitive, and the group chosen for HITEC Houston is truly outstanding," said HFTP CEO Frank Wolfe. "Each individual serving on the HITEC Houston Advisory Council brings an established record of achievement, and a proven commitment to the hospitality technology sector. The combination of extensive industry experience from these individuals will result in an incomparable event program for HITEC Houston attendees."In traditional manner, HITEC Houston Advisory Council met to plan the upcoming conference's educational program. Sessions planned by the group will address the issues of top concern to the hospitality technology field. The 2018 HITEC Houston Advisory Council includes:Chairman James Bina, CHAE, CHTP, corporate controller, Rosen Hotels & Resorts, Inc.Katerina Berezina, CHTP, assistant professor, University of South FloridaMichael Blake, CEO, Hotel Technology Next Generation (HTNG)Carson Booth, CHTP, startup technology consultantAmitava Chatterjee, director, Deloitte DigitalMichael Duffy, CHTP, director of technology, Seaport CompaniesJai Govindani, chief technology officer, Red Planet HotelsDonna Hale, vice president of technology, Evans HotelsTed Horner, managing director, E Horner & Associates PtyDanny Hudson, VP Business Solutions & IT Strategy, Wyndham Hotel GroupLaurent Idrac, group CIO, Accor HotelsUmmara Marshall, director POS, POS MarriottShannon McCallum, executive director of hotel operations, ARIA Las VegasWendy Mertz, VP of IT applications and strategy, Hard Rock InternationalJeffrey Parker, vice president of hospitality systems, Red Lion HotelsNeal Patel, CHIA, CHO, managing partner, Blue Chip HotelsHenri Roelings, founder and CEO, HsyndicatePrakash Shukla, managing partner, Wayfare VcRichard Siegel, president and publisher, Hospitality UpgradeJason Smith, vice president of communications, HSMAIMartin Stanton, vice president of financial information systems, Two Roads HospitalityMichael Tinkey, CEO, OpenTravel AllianceAndy Tjan, CHTP, director of technology and innovation, Rosewood Hotels & ResortsRichard Tudgay, senior vice president of IT, Highgate HotelsLyle Worthington, CHTP, CIO, The Student HotelIn addition to HITEC Houston, in 2018 HFTP will bring back its two, regional conferences: HITEC Amsterdam and HITEC Dubai. HITEC Amsterdam will take place from April 11-13 at the RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. HITEC Dubai will take place in the fall. For more information about HITEC and HFTP's other international activities, contact the HFTP Meetings & Special Events Department at education@hftp.org or visit www.hftp.org and www.hftp.org/hitec.About HITEC Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) is the world's largest and oldest hospitality technology exposition and conference brand. HITEC offers a unique combination of top-notch education, and brings together the brightest minds and hottest technologies from across the globe to one place. The unparalleled event offers attendees essential education, access to top hospitality technology industry experts and the resources to find cost-effective ways to improve company bottom lines. Combined with the intimate opportunities to connect with fellow professionals, HITEC has everything to enhance your career.Historically hosted annually in a different city throughout the United States, HFTP decided to break tradition in 2017 by hosting three HITEC events all taking place outside of U.S. borders- in Toronto, Amsterdam and Dubai. This was the first time the global association's largest HITEC event - featuring thousands of hospitality professionals from around the world -took place outside of the United States. About HFTP Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) established in 1952, is an international, nonprofit association, headquartered in Austin, Texas, USA, with offices in Hong Kong, United Kingdom, The Netherland and Dubai. HFTP is recognized as the spokes group for the finance and technology segments of the hospitality industry with members and stakeholders spanning across the globe. HFTP uniquely understands the industry's pressing issues and assists its stakeholders in finding solutions to their challenges more efficiently than any organization. It does this via its expert networks, research, certification programs, information resources and conferences/events such as HITEC. HFTP also owns the world's only hospitality-specific search engine, PineappleSearch.com. For more information about HFTP, email membership@hftp.org or visit the media center. Follow HFTP/HITEC on HFTP Connect, Facebook (@HFTPGlobal; @HITECconference), LinkedIn, Twitter (@HFTP), Instagram (@HFTP_HITEC), Flickr and YouTube for the latest news. Stay tuned to HFTP's industry-specific, informational news sites: HFTP News, HITEC Bytes, HFTP Club Bytes and HFTP Finance Bytes.###END###

HSMAI Announces Robust Calendar of 2018 Events

HSMAI 5 January 2018
McLean, VA -- The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is pleased to announce its full schedule of events for 2018. The events to be offered to hotel professionals and their partners through HSMAI Americas in 2018 will feature educational opportunities such as conferences and roundtables in addition to multifaceted-events recognizing noteworthy achievements in sales, marketing, and revenue optimization within the hospitality industry.HSMAI Americas will host the following events in 2018:January 8-10 - Executive THINK at CES, Las Vegas, NV February 20 - Chief Marketing Officer Executive Roundtable, New York, NYFebruary 20 - Resort Best Practices Roundtable, New York, NYFebruary 20 - Adrian Awards Dinner Reception & Gala, New York, NYFebruary 21 - Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, New York, NYFebruary 22 - Chief Digital Officer Executive Roundtable, New York, NYApril 9 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Houston, TXApril 11 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), New Orleans, LAApril 13 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Memphis, TNApril 19 - Curate: An HSMAI Executive Insights Forum, Rancho Palos Verdes, CAMay 7 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Detroit, MIMay 9 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Madison, WIMay 11 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Portland, ORMay 17 - Hotel Management Company Sales and Marketing Executive Roundtable, Denver, COJune 19 - Revenue Management Faculty Think Tank, Houston, TXJune 19-20 - Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC Americas), Houston, TXJune 21 - Brand Chief Revenue Officer Executive Roundtable, Houston, TXJune 21 - Hotel Management Company Chief Revenue Officer Executive Roundtable, Houston, TXSeptember 6 - Curate: An HSMAI Executive Insights Forum, Baltimore, MDOctober TBD - Executive THINK at Fast Company Innovation Festival, New York, NY>November 6 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Toronto, ONNovember 8 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Boston, MANovember 10 - HSMAI's ROCET (Revenue Optimization Continuing Education & Training), Philadelphia, PANovember TBD - Hotel Management Company Sales and Marketing Executive Roundtable, Washington, D.C.November TBD - Chief Sales Officer Executive Roundtable, Washington, D.C.Visit the HSMAI Americas website for detailed information about each event.

two SMART fellas episode 005: Evolution of the hotel PMS, hotel tech Platforms and Predictions

two SMART fellas 18 December 2017
Chewing the fat and talking hotel tech. Fabian Bartnick + Erik Munoz are hotel tech specialists and go deep and sometimes off tangent on all things hotel tech related. A bit of banter, some useful education, reviewing hotel tech startups, industry news and demystifying industry buzzwords. Two SMART Fellas (SMART = Sales, Marketing and Revenue tech)

SUNx and IHRA Partner for Climate Resilience

SUNx 18 December 2017
On the final day of the International Hotel & Restaurant Association (IH&RA) Annual Congress in Hangzhou, China an MOU was signed between IHRA and SUNx - Strong Universal Network. The agreement focuses on climate resilience and sustainable development generally., as well as specifically advancing Maurice Strong Legacy Scholarships and the Emeraude green quality program.Ghassan Aidi, President of IH&RA - which is devoted to promoting and defending the interests of the hotel and restaurant industry worldwide said: "We are delighted to cooperate with SUNx to bring a sharper focus to our work to help Hotels and hospitality companies respond to the very real challenges of Climate Change Resilience. We share a common view that we need to make that shift now to maintain our quality service towards customers, while progressively strengthening sustainability standards."Professor Geoffrey Lipman, Co-founder of SUNx a legacy of the late Maurice Strong - sustainable development pioneer said: "We know that Climate Change is an eXistential threat that is already here and look forward to working with IH&RA to help hospitality companies understand the urgency of responding to the challenge. We believe that our concept of Impact-Travel, measured: green: 2050 proofed can be an important strategic change agent. In addition Maurice Strong Legacy scholarships for graduate trainees will be a CSR-fuelled vehicle for preparing for the fundamental change in course that climate resilience demands."ContactProfessor Geoffrey LipmanSUNx Co-founder glipman@thesunprogram.com

2018 Middle East Hospitality Tech Trends to be Showcased at Upcoming HTNG Event

HTNG 14 December 2017
Along with informative and engaging sessions, HTNG conferences provide a plethora of networking opportunities with local, regional and global industry experts. HTNG's seventh Middle East Conference in Dubai will take place at the Jumeirah Mina A'Salam from 23-24 January 2018.The event will include the following sessions:Blockchain and Hospitality - With the concept of blockchain arising across many industries, it is critical for hospitality professionals to have a basic knowledge framework for understanding blockchain, separating fact from hype and assessing where blockchain can be applicable in hospitality. Learn from Blockchain Consultant, Jessica Houlgrave, about the basics of blockchain technology at a strategic level, with guidance on key variations and the applications where they may make sense.VAT Implementation in the Middle East - The VAT implementation will affect all companies in the region and is an important shift for everyone. Kate Bacon, Deloitte, will help the audience discover helpful tips on how to ensure your company complies with these new obligations both inside and outside of the hospitality sector.The AI Age: How Will Machine Learning and Intelligence Impact Travel and Hospitality? - We see AI and machine learning rapidly developing in the hospitality industry with the use of voice commands, chatbots, robotics and more. Kanishka Agiwal, IBM Corporation, will provide a glimpse into the near future and explore how it will affect our industry.Are You Ready for GDPR? - Global hospitality chains, trading partners and vendors who conduct business within the European region need to navigate to the pitfalls associated with compliance to these updated laws. Richard Chudzynski and Matthew White of PwC will help your company make sure you're ready to properly abide by this regulation.Other sessions topics include:Aligning HTNG with Industry PrioritiesCase Study: Using AI and Machine Learning to Improve Guest and Employee ExperienceGDPR Drill Down and Q&AIT Leadership PanelReinvigorate Your Executive CommitteeOther conference speakers include:Marwan Al Ali, Group CIO, Jumeirah GroupWillem Both, Executive Vice President IT, Kerzner Inernational Resorts inc.John Burns, President, Hospitality Technology ConsultingCraig Cochrane, SVP Human Resources, Movenpick Hotels & ResortsAlexander Lee, SVP - Marketing, Revenue Management, Distribution, Jumeirah GroupMichael Mrini, Director of Information Technology, Edwardian Hotels LondonJoe Tesfai, Corporate Director of IT, Dubai Parks & ResortsAleksandra Wozniak, Digital Content Assistant Manager, Movenpick Hotels & ResortsConference registration is open to any full-tim employee of a company who owns, manages or franchises a hotel or hospitality venue. For all other industry participants, HTNG membership is required.For registration or for more information on the conference, please visit: http://www.htng.org/MiddleEastFor HTNG membership information or sponsorship opportunities, please contact membership@htng.org

AI, Risk and Traveller Centricity Were the Hot Topics of GBTA Conference 2017 Frankfurt in Partnership with VDR

GBTA 13 December 2017
Convergence was the prevailing theme of the Conference. The business travel industry has seen a great deal of disruption in recent years as we face the convergence of various elements like risk, mobility and personalization, presenting new hurdles and opportunities for the business travel professional.Through-provoking industry panels highlighted Centre Stage. Festive Road's Caroline Strachan moderated a panel called The Post-Procurement Practitioner - Beyond the Price Point to The Leadership Radar focused on a more strategic approach. Panelists Andrew Owen of UBS, Dirk Gerdom of SAP and VDR, and Jackie Taylor of Genpact discussed moving beyond pricing to understand what value really means and how travel program goals can translate into business goals as well. Strachan summed up the panelists advice to travel buyers saying, "Know your stuff, be ready to challenge and reimagine a different outcome.""Technology is evolving rapidly, but so are our ever-increasing expectations as to how that technology will serve us," said Catherine McGavock, GBTA EMEA Regional Vice President as she opened a panel on artificial intelligence. Panelists Karen Hutchings of EY, Alex Kaluzny of Egencia, and Serdar Gurbuz of Turkish Airlines took the stage to share their thoughts on the current state of AI and robotics in business travel and where the industry is headed.GBTA Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick hosted John P. Wagner, Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner, Office of Field Operations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection on Centre Stage to discuss not only increasing security, but also providing more efficiency and speed as travelers move through the airport ecosystem. Wagner addressed current threats to air travel, the balance between privacy and the need for information, and what biometric exit will look like once fully implemented.Steve Dunne of Digital Drums led panelists Hank Benedetti of American Airlines, Rita Visser of Oracle, Roxana Bressy of KDS and Tobias Ragge of HRS Group in a discussion on shifting business models. The panel talked about how in the past the business travel industry has been reluctant to embrace change and technology, but in today's world those who do not embrace it will be left behind. It is all about simplification, panelists said. At the end of the day, people want simple solutions and a great user experience at a low cost.World-renowned inspirational speaker and business author Ramon Vullings was the featured networking lunch speaker on Wednesday where he explored the emerging world of cross industry innovation. Vullings challenged attendees to use augmented reality to strip reality of the mess and ask how can we use technology to make things simpler for people? "For cross industry innovation, don't copy what others are doing but copy the thinking behind the ideas," he said.Attendees were also treated to high-level education sessions covering everything from AI, robotics and duty of care to GDPR, data protection, the consumerization of business travel, adapting travel policies to meet traveller needs and more to help buyers better understand their roles in an ever-changing business travel market.The event once again brought together over 900 attendees from 30+ countries for networking, education and top-notch speakers. The sold-out expo floor featured over 50 exhibitors showcasing the industry's latest products and services and a dozen suppliers shared breaking industry news at a media cocktail hour to kick-off the opening reception.Next year's Conference will come to Berlin 27-29 November 2018.

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