HFTP Connect – Hospitality Blog

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It Is A Wrap

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Written By: James Lingle

I was asked at lunch today by an industry colleague and friend what I saw at HITEC that stood out. It is a pretty common question, I think, and one that is a great way to reflect on the week that was HITEC. If you saw my first blog this year, I am book-ending my final blog with the same theme – I hope you catch it!

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Time in a Bottle – In the immortal words of Jim Croce, “there never seems to be enough time.” The show floor this year was huge. I saw so much, but when I looked at my pre-show list of the vendors I wanted to meet, I plain just ran out of time. I think the show floor size speaks volumes to how much vendors are willing to invest in our industry and their view of the economic outlook.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes – OK, I am co-opting a little David Bowie here, but sometimes it is easy to miss the change that happens right in front of you. Three particular items this year really jumped out at me that may not have if I had not missed last year.

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Unique and United: The Road Map of Hospitality Technology

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Written By: Katerina Berezina, Ph.D., CHTP, CRME

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When reflecting on my entire HITEC experience, I was asking myself questions about what I have seen and where technology is going. Overall, I have noticed that hospitality technology is moving towards integration and convergence in order to ensure seamless user experience. I call it “unique and united.” This means that different players in the hospitality technology field are bringing together their expertise to build a united eco-system that may ensure a unique experience for each user. We are connecting different systems to be able to differentiate and recognize every customer, and tailor the experience to their needs and preferences.

Nowadays, hotels work with an extremely diverse group of customers. Some customers discover hotels in printed catalogs, on billboards or during a conversation with a travel agent; while others come to hotels via meta-search, opaque travel agencies or flash sales websites. Some customers shy away from using technology and are more comfortable with doing things the way they have been doing them for years. However, other customers keep abreast with the latest developments, they are connected and they are “smart” (e.g., using smart devices, living in smart homes, etc.). In light of all these changes, every hotel should answer a question: Am I as smart as my customers?

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Gamification – Go Ahead and Spin the Wheel!

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Written By: Jennifer Jones

Roulette-Wheel

When I go to Vegas, I would much rather spin the roulette wheel than play a game of craps — mostly because I do not understand the rules of craps. It is much easier for me to place my chips on lucky number 24 and take my chances, because being a control freak, I like to completely understand how I lose my money.

Have you ever tried to introduce the concept of exciting guests, potential guests or employees into playing a game so you can gather data or educate them on something? Research shows that when people psychologically feel that they have earned their reward, they see it like a prize over marketing. This introduces the concept of gamification, or the art of applying game-playing techniques to motivate and engage people to participate in marketing techniques for your product or service.

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A Lesson in Service

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Written By: James LingleUntitled design (8)

I have heard it said, in a variety of ways, that the way to see someone’s character is to see how they treat those who have no influence over them. I do not know how true that might be, but it sounds good when I hear it. In general, I have always considered myself a service-oriented person. I think it is why I ended up in the hospitality industry, even if it was on the IT side!

Holding doors open for others, taking time to look at a passerby when they speak to you and you respond, looking others in the eye – those are all things that speak to me as being service-oriented. This week, HITEC served me up two reminders of what service really means. The first was just an everyday encounter. As I was leaving my hotel for the convention center a member of the hotel staff was mopping the floor, as I approached, she smiled at me and let me know where the dry spot was. I thanked her and as I passed by she saw my HITEC badge, called me by my name and wished me a good day. I stopped, wished her a good day as well and thanked her for using my name.

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Robotics in Hospitality: Are We Asking The Right Questions?

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Written By: Katerina Berezina, Ph.D., CHTP, CRME

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Even though robotic technologies have recently made their way into the hospitality industry, we can already see robots working at the front desk, concierge, housekeeping, restaurants and bars. Robots employed by the hospitality industry come in different shapes and forms. For example, HITEC attendees had a chance to interact with Botlr, a robot that is currently being used in different hotels to assist front desk agents in fulfilling guest requests by running deliveries. We also have seen Hilton’s robot Connie that works as a concierge and helps hotel guests with giving recommendations for places to explore in the area, and finding answers to other questions. There are also examples of employing robot chefs and waiters in restaurants, as well as robotic bartenders.

As a new and exciting technology, the use of robots in the hospitality industry is also surrounded by numerous questions. Are robots the right choice for the hospitality industry? Can robots deliver the same level of service that we expect from front line employees? Are we losing the personal touch? Are guests ready for interactions with robots? Are operators ready for employing them? Will robots take away our jobs? These and many other questions were tackled during the panel discussion “Robotics in Hospitality: the Future or just a Gimmick?” at HITEC 2016.

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A Token For My Thoughts

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EMV-Swipe

Written By: Jennifer Jones

While at HITEC, most of us have had at least one conversation about EMV during the conference. People know it is important and that they should do something about it, but it is confusing. And you may have been misinformed once or twice. Who is certified with who?  What hardware is certified and where do I have to get it from? Your software application may be certified with your gateway, but until your processor is certified also, you won’t be able to accept a chip transaction at the front desk or point of sale terminal. So if your head is spinning like a crazy person, it is ok. We all have been there.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a magical list that named software vendors down one side, and then gateway/processor combinations up across the top? It would simply state if they are currently supporting EMV transactions or publish a date that advises when they plan on being certified. Most importantly, if I am told you are EMV certified, I would like you to tell me the name of at least one property where it is working. I think I am going to create this magical list because it is hard to “keep up with the Joneses” and know who is doing what.

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Weekly Connect from PineappleSearch 6/24/16

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Weekly Connect from Pineapplesearch.com. This week’s tour of news and information from Pineapplesearch.com. Here is what happened in hospitality this week:

Visit and register at Pineapplesearch.com – the hospitality-specific search engine – for the latest news and information. When you register you can customize your experience, bringing the topics of interest to you front and center; as well as elect to receive a weekly news digest delivered via email.

A New Look for IT: What Skills Are Needed for Tomorrow’s IT Staff?

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Written By: James Lingle

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Much of my career has been spent leading teams. Whether it has been single focus teams (e.g. support) or teams that have mixed focuses (support, database, security, etc…). For the longest time the focus was topically customer service. That is to say, what can we do to react to a guest’s needs?

Several years ago, my philosophy began to change. I began to wonder: What can my teams do to add value to the organization rather than to simply react? So, when I looked at the schedule of this year’s Super Sessions, I was immediately interested in a session about the changing IT staff requirements.

The session started with the panel sharing with us some of what they see as the drivers for that change. While some of those changes were internal (organization and process, for example); many of the real influencers are external to the organization. Things like: mobility, PCI and PII security concerns and vendor community changes were some of the examples. I think I would add commoditization of IT jobs, the giant leaps forward in distributed (yes, you can say cloud!) computing and the significant advancements in APIs.

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Revenue Management Meets Big Data

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Written By: Katerina Berezina, Ph.D., CHTP, CRME

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HFTP and HITEC are known not only for the world’s largest hospitality technology show, but also for the cutting-edge education and professional development. In order to deliver the highest quality of education, HITEC brings together dozens of sessions that discuss the recent developments and trends in the field of hospitality technology. HITEC 2016 presents its attendees with educational sessions on a variety of topics, including information security, entrepreneurship, sustainability, big data, robotics in the hospitality industry, and many more. In addition to these topics HITEC also partners with other associations to broaden the horizons and bring additional educational components to the conference.

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Airbnb…the new Kale

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By Jennifer Jones

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We’ve all been watching how Airbnb is disrupting the lodging industry. While it’s already encroached into the hotelier space of leisure travelers, it’s beginning to make its mark on the corporate traveler as well. On June 8, Airbnb announced a revolutionary new product for the business traveler – Airbnb for Business. It’s pretty slick. Hoteliers, take note, and make sure you are doing everything you can to provide your corporate guests the comforts of home, because last week, they procured $1B in financing to grow the company and that’s a lot of kale.

Many of us have been sitting at home and have seen the new TV advertisement reaching out to millions of people who may have not even known what Airbnb is. Think about how many times you see a commercial for your favorite hotel brand? Up until now, most of us only thought of Airbnb when we were vacationing. We usually never considered Airbnb or even VRBO.com when traveling for business because of things like limited check-in times, lack of amenities, or like Forest Gump says, “you never know what you’re gonna get.”

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