The one thing that is certain about technology is that it is ever-changing, and quickly. It is apparent in the consumer technology we use on a day-to-day basis. Just look at the apps you used frequently five years ago and compare them to what you are using today. Different?
This presents a unique challenge to technology professionals in hospitality. Because our business depends on maintaining a good customer relationship and maintaining efficient operations, it is necessary to look to popular innovations and technology tools gaining ground on the consumer level and adapt them to the needs of hospitality. To get an eye-level view of this convergence, turn your attention to HFTP’s startup technology pitch competition, Entrepreneur 20X (E20X). Established at HITEC Austin in 2014, E20X offers unfunded companies who develop unique hospitality technology an opportunity to introduce it to the hospitality technology community at HITEC.
This spring, HFTP produced the first HITEC Amsterdam, one of three HITEC events for 2017. In conjunction, the association also hosted the E20X Amsterdam competition. There were 12 competing companies; and based on what they brought to the competition, I noted three trends.
Customer loyalty is the goal that many hotel companies are reaching for as more and more travelers tend to select accommodations by best price. To help distinguish a property, hotels are turning to personalization tools to help make guest exchanges friendly and memorable, and which allow hotel staff to quickly respond to online feedback.
Several presenters offered this type of service. Cheerfy allows hotels to send guests a personalized message to their mobile devices upon arrival and departure of the property. What is advantageous to this software is that it uses the hotel’s Wi-Fi and point-of-sale/customer-relationship-management data to access the guest, no manual check-in by the guest is needed. Reputize and Roomatic booth provided tools for hotels to become aware of in-stay customer feedback so that managers can address issues in real-time. And last in this category was Stay Delightful, which provides a direct-messaging dashboard for staff to interact with guests where the guests prefer to communicate—text, email or existing chat apps.
Another large component to a profitable hospitality business is keeping operations running efficiently. With the proliferation of tech tools, managing inventory becomes easier. E20X Amsterdam saw several presenters that proclaim to do that. Event Intelligence is a service that consolidates and notifies subscribers of regional events, helping properties plan and manage their room inventory and pricing accordingly. Flowtify is a web application and mobile tool for paperless hygiene and quality management in the foodservice industry.
The most important resource and investment are your staff, and two companies offered technology to support human-resource management. AskPaul is an application that offers employee management, interactive shift management, absence and holiday management, and payroll accounting as well as time tracking. And the winnGetty Ier of both the E20X Amsterdam Judge’s Award and People’s Startup Award was Hyre. Hyre is an online marketplace that operates by connecting event organizers directly with independently contracted event staff, improving their staff management and overall experience level to their customers.
This is only the start for Entrepreneur 20X in 2017. I look forward to seeing what other unique tools are in development at HITEC Toronto E20X on June 26. In Toronto, another dozen (or more) startup companies are expected to compete. A third E20X will also take place at HITEC Dubai on November 14. It will be interesting to note at the end of the year all the presented technology, to see which technology trends carry through all three competitions.