CHTA Disruptive 2018: Thoughts Collected from a World of Possibilities

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Written By: Evita Ma

The China Hospitality Technology Alliance (CHTA) Disruptive 2018 was held last month in Shenzhen, China — from May 22 – 24, 2018. It was an honor to represent HFTP at the expo and conference. Shenzhen is like a small Silicon Valley in China, with lots of startups and technology companies headquartered there. Hoteliers and stakeholders come together to share opinions and discuss the latest trends on CHTA talks and panel discussions.

Here are several highlights and important takeaways from the conference that I would love to share and comment on:

Quality of service. Although service quality in China has improved in comparison to previous years, there is still room to perform better. The chaos caused by dirty bed linens in five-star hotels last year weakened the public trust on hotel hygiene. Poor indoor air quality has also become a concern, and needs to be taken into consideration. Government control, rigorous daily checks and employee training must be emphasized and implemented to win back trust.

Micro Innovation. It is not necessary to pursue disruptive innovations like Airbnb from zero to one. Rather, work on micro innovations such as improvements in the process, product or service. This better meets customer and employee needs, which will be a great innovation due to its suitability and lower cost.

Deep learning and data analysis. Big data is widely used and discussed in various industries recently. But, how should it be applied in the hospitality industry? Data can be extracted from various systems such as PMS, CRS and CRM and can be used to help marketing, personalization and revenue maximization. To find the gold in the sand, specialized professionals or consultants may be needed. Revenue management performs best in terms of data analytics, especially in airlines and casinos. Through some algorithms to design price strategy and reduce costs, companies may achieve their business targets.

The application of blockchain technology. The application of blockchain technology in information security is recognized, but has not reached its potential since it cannot integrate with enterprise operations yet. If this is true, then why are we willing to believe in the blockchain technology? It is because of the blockchain descriptors: point-to-point, distributed. Trust is what our industry currently lacks.

Artificial intelligence. The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) can date back to many years ago. However, it is quite limited to the actual conditions such as CPU processing speed and memory size. AI in the hospitality industry is still in its elementary phases, imitating human behaviors to help guests with self-service — but it cannot be more efficient than human beings now. Although there are many suppliers quoting AI as a fancy term in their product descriptions, we are still in the early stages; but, optimistically we will see how disruptive AI can be in the future.

In addition, there were several local and international startups conducting self-introductory presentations —covering different aspects such as foods, luggage, early check-ins, etc. However, what I expected was a solution to help with information security, which I didn’t find much of. Probably because of cultural differences, most Chinese people are not all that sensitive to personal information security compared to westerners. It leads to the weakness of a local supplier’s product, which may also be a reason why no Chinese suppliers can dominate the market or step confidently into the international market now.

With the increasing awareness of information security around the world, I think China’s government will consider publishing regulations like the European Union’s GDPR. Technology companies in China, or any enterprise, should consider this trend and prepare for that day.

Evita Ma is the executive director at the HFTP Asia Research Center. Contact Evita at evita.ma@hftp.org or +1 (512) 220-4039.

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