The Times They Are A-Changin’

Written By: Fee Naaijkens

HITEC Amsterdam kicks off tomorrow on 28 March with its pre-conference events, and I am thrilled to be attending the event as a guest blogger this year. Amsterdam is going to be teeming with hospitality professionals from all over the world this week. But for a popular destination like “Mokum” (the locals’ nickname for their city), dealing with so many out-of-towners is a piece of cake.

With the increasing number of hotel guests visiting the Dutch capital every year, running a hotel here should be all smooth sailing from now on, right? Not quite. There is something brewing that is about to shake up the hotel landscape across all of Europe.

Change is on the horizon.

Hotels are preparing to take on the booking sites, to reclaim their part of the conversion funnel and win back their direct bookings. And standing side by side with the hoteliers, to help them tackle this challenge, are metasearch marketing platforms and an enormous number of start-ups emerging with solutions for upselling, email marketing, and online reputation management.

So the future looks bright—albeit challenging—for hotel owners. But the question remains: where should they start when gearing up for this future? I think I am not alone when I say it can be hard to keep up with and adapt to the rapid changes and technological developments that impact the travel and hospitality sectors, because one thing is for certain (and to quote Bob Dylan): “The times they are a-changin’.” And the hospitality industry is changing right along with the times.

Which is exactly why these three days at HITEC Amsterdam will be so illuminating. The conference offers a chance to learn about the latest developments and opportunities for hotel businesses. I myself will be on the lookout for more insights into these three topics:

1. Hotel technology made simple.

Hotel chains might have the resources to study hotel tech products in depth, but the average independent hotelier is far too busy with daily operations to do so. Besides, when demand falls short, the hotelier needs to change course immediately. Ad-hoc tactics to increase direct or indirect bookings are becoming imperative, so I want to discover and report on the simple hotel technology that can help.

2. Entrepreneurs to keep an eye on.

This year HFTP is bringing Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) to HITEC Amsterdam—and to Europe for the first time ever. Hotel tech entrepreneurs, here is a tip: fast, accessible, intuitive and—last but not least—affordable tools will definitely win me over. I am excited to see what innovations these ambitious hotel-tech visionaries will debut, and have already gone through the list of competitors.

3. What will the hotel of the future look like?

That hotels should broaden their horizons and not depend on revenue coming from overnight stays alone is becoming increasingly apparent. But what else can we expect? HITEC Amsterdam closing keynote speaker Woody Wade wrote a book about it: The Hotel Yearbook 2036. I am really impressed that someone is able to predict what hotels will look like two decades from now! So, I will definitely be attending Wade’s closing keynote, “Scenario Generation: Thinking Differently About the Future,” on Thursday afternoon.

I will be keeping you updated about my findings in upcoming posts and tweets. And most of all, I am looking forward to meeting other hoteliers and hotel techies. See you there!

Fee Naaijkens is the industry manager for the Netherlands and Belgium at Trivago, a leading global hotel metasearch, helping travelers to find their ideal hotel for the best price. Follow Trivago on Twitter (@trivagoHM_nl) and Facebook.

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