by
Rich Siegel
12.8.2023

Siegel Sez 12/08/23

Siegel Sez 12/08/23

Definitely Doug 12/8/23: Top 5 Hotel Technology Trends from 2023

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When you get to mid-December it’s natural to reflect on the past year. I think everyone has memorable moments that stand out. As I look back on the previous 12 months, mine happened on April 3 when I had a knee replacement surgery. Yes, things like this happen when you get older, but if that’s the worst thing for me health-wise then that’s ok with me.

Of course, as we look back at what has happened, and in many cases, didn’t happen with technology in the hospitality world, it’s impossible to pick just one thing. Doug Rice in his Definitely Doug column that follows does a great job looking back at this year with a focus on technology trends. Are half the hotels really using Generative AI? Are closed systems truly a thing of the past? How about sustainability? Revenue beyond the rooms? How many hotels are investing in robots? In our last Siegel Sez of the year Doug does a great job reflecting on 2023 with a tease to what lies ahead.

For the many thousands of you who have been reading my Siegel Sez rants for more than 20 years, the team at Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online thanks you. And we especially thank Doug for sharing his thoughts on how technology is affecting the hotel industry. We hope you have a great holiday season and let’s all look forward to a great 2024. I will see you one last time this year after the latest technology happenings that follow with our final attempt this year at ‘you-know-what’!

Happy Holidays!

Rich
rich@hospitalityupgrade.com

Technology in the hotel industry does not change quickly. Every year, we see a few new ideas emerge.

Technology in the hotel industry does not change quickly. Every year, we see a few new ideas emerge.

Some turn out to be fads and never get much traction. Many others get a fair amount of adoption, but only within certain niche markets. Only a few really start to take hold. Today I will assess which of the new technologies that have emerged in recent years are likely to be in this last (and most important) category, recognizing that they can still take years (often decades) to work their way through the industry.

Driving Forces

Several underlying factors are responsible for many of the innovations of the past few years and especially in 2023. These include:

  • Continued shortages of, and increased costs for, labor in most parts of the world

  • Increased environmental awareness, sharply increased costs for energy (particularly in Europe), introduction of much more stringent environmental regulations in many countries, and a rapid shift towards electric vehicles in major world markets

  • The evolution of artificial intelligence, driving new solutions that were previously impractical to automate

  • Maturation of cloud computing and the continued expansion of open-source libraries and no-code/low-code tools that make software development much faster, and that have led to a proliferation of tech startups focusing on hotels

  • A growing guest preference for self-service digital options, particularly among younger consumers; and

  • A shift from the historical focus on rooms revenue towards total revenue, including both from ancillary products and services within the hotel, and from monetization of the local environment.

These factors are underlying drivers behind every one of the “top trends to watch” I have selected from the past year.  Here are the top five, plus a few bonus ones at the end.

1.     Generative AI Changes the Landscape

In recent memory, nothing in the technology world grabbed the headlines as completely as ChatGPT did when it was announced just a year ago. It represents a major advance especially in content creation, especially for marketing content that needs to be compelling but that many hotels find challenging to write and keep current. Even if what Generative AI creates is rarely perfect, it is usually good enough that humans need only focus on a final polishing. And where 100% accuracy is not required, it can satisfy needs that were not previously addressable.

For example, as a traveler, I find the AI-generated review summaries that TripAdvisor is now including on many hotel listings to be a great help when I am searching for a hotel. Similarly, while hotel chat tools that have incorporated Generative AI are far from perfect, they can be as good or even better than the newly hired 19-year-old front desk clerk that might answer chat requests in the absence of AI.

Just one year in, there are many ways that hotels are using Generative AI. I covered some of them a few months back in this article and will not repeat them here. But I also see companies trying to apply it to problems it cannot solve very well. Generative AI is based on language modeling, and as such can respond in very human-like ways. It can often provide the right answer to many general questions and to some specific ones.

But it fails miserably at tasks like itinerary planning, which requires consideration of prerequisites, logistics, logic, constraints, and time planning. I have tried many times to use ChatGPT or Bing to suggest leisure trip itineraries, and while it can recommend a good selection and sequence of things to see and do, it has almost no sense of how long the itinerary will take, whether the necessary transportation will be available at the times and locations needed, whether attractions will be open when you get there, or any other constraints that you or the providers may have. These aspects are not solvable with language patterns; additional overlays to large language models (which have yet to emerge) will be needed to address them.

Generative AI cannot solve everything (at least, not yet) but it can enable hotels to produce much more compelling and useful marketing content with less human input, and it is starting to emerge as a component of service as well, for its ability to address common guest questions and requests faster and less expensively than humans. It is not surprising that surveys indicate that nearly half of hotels are using Generative AI – just a year after ChatGPT was launched. In my 35 years in the hotel technology space, I cannot recall a technology that was adopted faster.

2.     Closed Systems are Fading Away

This year marked a milestone as the last major hotel company, Marriott, finally announced a plan to replace the 1980s-era property management system (PMS) that is used in most of its hotels. Older PMSs were built in an era when system interconnectivity was poor and inter-system cooperation was less essential. Interfaces were often accomplished by having one system drop a file with a transaction into a folder on an interface PC, which another system could pick up and process whenever it was ready. These closed-system designs led to integrations that were often expensive, unreliable, difficult to monitor, and hard to repair when things went wrong or to update when needs changed. And because these systems operated on local computers, it was difficult, expensive, and often disruptive to update them.

Newer systems, now adopted or in progress for all major hotel brands, provide much more accessible (and often free or nearly free) connectivity through open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Often available to partners either publicly or upon registration, these enable other systems to make processing or data requests to the PMS (and vice versa). And because these newer systems are cloud-based, they are relatively easy to update. Most updates require little or no effort on the part of the hotels using them. Major hotel groups that have migrated or are migrating to platforms such as from Agilysys, HotelKey, Infor, Sabre Hospitality, and SkyTouch Technology, have greatly reduced technology friction and will continue to reap benefits over time. Many smaller hotel groups are also benefiting, with hundreds of vendors to choose from and a few, such as Cloudbeds and Mews, starting to achieve real scale.

For many years, the elephant in the room was Oracle’s Opera PMS, by far the most common system globally. It has been widely seen as the most functional system, especially for larger and more complex or upscale hotels, and can be deployed in more countries than any of its competitors.

However, Opera long had a legacy design and business process that were less than welcoming to third-party integrations. It was also designed for deployment on premise-based servers (or in later years, hosted single-tenancy instances, which was only marginally better). Oracle (and MICROS in the two decades before it was acquired) also had a reputation for charging high fees for interfaces; the ROI impact hampered both innovation on the vendor side (if it required integration with the PMS) and adoption of those innovations by hotels.However, Oracle’s corporate DNA (dating to long before its acquisition of MICROS in 2014) has always been open systems, and after several years of false starts, they have within the past four to five years made significant inroads at opening up Opera’s APIs and reducing or eliminating the costs for both other vendors and customers who need to use them. In 2023, Oracle started aggressively moving customers to the new Opera Cloud platform as well. These changes are still works in progress and may take a few more years to fully play out, but the level of complaints from both customers and other vendors in the hotel ecosystem has been greatly reduced. If Oracle is not yet as “open” as some of its newer counterparts, it is at least well on the way.

Open systems create the opportunity for better delivery of guest self-service options as well. So far, only a few PMS companies have taken that to heart and started delivering a single solution that has both staff- and guest-facing user interfaces (as discussed in this recent blog), but hundreds of add-on modules have appeared and are able to connect easily with many of the more open PMSs on the market.

Finally, the launch and early adoption trends of the new HTNG Express standards are starting to simplify many of the simpler PMS connectivity requirements that previously required more work to implement than many vendors found practical. Among PMSs, Agilysys, Oracle Opera, and Visual Matrix have already adopted these standards, along with at least 15 non-PMS vendors. The new standards do not address some of the more complex integration requirements for PMSs (such as for distribution systems) but greatly reduce the workload required to implement many post-booking and operational use cases.

3.     Green Technology Pays Off

Sustainability emerged as a priority for a few hotels and vendors about 15 years ago, but for many years the uptake was anemic and growing only slowly. That started to change a few years ago but has gotten major boosts within the past two years, especially in Europe. The impact of the Ukraine war on European energy costs was a major driver, but so has been increasingly aggressive legislation. Additionally, more hotel buyers (notably corporate travel managers, meeting planners, and Gen Z and millennial consumers) worldwide are prioritizing sustainability when they select hotels.

To be sure, much of the attention to sustainability is still lip service, but that is changing. Certification programs, such as LEED, BREEAM, Green Globe, GreenLeaders from TripAdvisor, Green Key Global, and many others are making it easier for buyers to impartially assess hotels’ environmental footprint. Legislation with teeth is starting to be introduced as well; the United Kingdom has targeted a 68% reduction in energy intensity for hotels by 2034, and hotels that fail to meet requirements may have their operating licenses revoked. An interesting CBRE study summarizes progress especially in Europe. While most European hoteliers will already be familiar with many of the developments, U.S. hoteliers would be wise to pay heed.

Sustainability products, and particularly those that can reduce energy consumption, are getting more attention in the industry. Most common are energy management solutions for guest rooms, which are the greatest energy users in most hotels. But we are also starting to see a maturation of solutions for water management, kitchens, food waste, laundry, lighting, and other applications. Power management is another emerging area, with some hotels utilizing self-generated energy, most commonly from solar panels, and energy storage solutions.

4.     Revenue Beyond the Guest Room

Many real estate investors are now realizing that the digitization of the hotel experience can open up new revenue opportunities that were previously too costly to justify. These are now often supported via low-cost and/or zero-risk (e.g., commission-based) software products. Resorts and some high-end hotels have long offered ancillary services such as spa, dining, golf, ski lift tickets, or water sports, but these were often booked manually, or with clumsy digital interfaces.

Within the past couple of years, however, a tsunami of new vendors (and in a few cases enhancements from existing vendors) have begun offering revenue-producing add-ons that are used during the booking experience, in pre-stay emails or text messages, or onsite via chat, guest app, QR code, or kiosk. They sell what the more basic booking engines and online travel agencies often cannot: amenities, spa experiences, tennis lessons, cooking classes, kayak rentals … you name it, and you can sell it. And of course, they can also enhance room revenue by selling early check-in, late check-out, or room upgrades. A few can even guarantee (for a price) room features such as fireplaces, balconies, kitchenettes, or even a specific room, using some form of attribute based selling (covered in a two-part blog last spring here and here).

Increasingly, the quest for additional revenue is extending beyond the hotel building and into the local community. Hotel bookings are usually the first thing a traveler books in a city, and who better than the hotel to suggest (and sell and even earn a commission from) the activities that are of the most interest to, and most convenient for, their guests? Dozens of new vendors provide solutions to help hotels monetize these opportunities (I covered some of them in an earlier blog here).

The big hotel brands have taken note and started to incorporate some of these products into their loyalty apps. But hotels may not want to stop there, since these apps often reach only a small percentage of guests (and especially of leisure guests). More and more hotels are reporting success with reaching out to guests pre-arrival (especially via text message) to make them aware of things to do during their stay and to book them. Unlike the brand apps, text messages or emails can reach almost all guests – and also unlike many brand apps, any commissions go to the hotel rather than to the franchisor.

5.     Robot Labor

Robots were launched in hotels several years ago, mostly as a novelty. However, adoption has accelerated markedly in the past year or so as capabilities improve and costs decline. And despite concerns that robots carry the risk of de-humanizing hospitality, the most commonly adopted robotics applications have not done that. Rather, robots are finding steady applications in and around kitchen and food preparation areas, busing food between kitchens and function space, providing security in the building and parking lots, and for cleaning tasks (especially vacuuming). Robots can replace some of the less skilled staff that are proving impossible for many hotels to hire, and they can be significantly cheaper as well (especially when you factor in costs of shift coverage, training time, and turnover).

I covered some of the interesting applications in a two-part blog (here and here) earlier this year. Robots can also interact with guests and enhance the guest experience, although whether this is appropriate will vary from hotel to hotel and guest to guest. Robots can wander the lobby, interact with guests waiting in line (and in some cases address whatever they were there for autonomously), offer welcome drinks, entertain children, and even escort guests to their room or to hotel facilities. Many guests find them entertaining, as well. They generally get very positive reviews from both staff and guests, across hotel categories ranging from select service to upscale; applications in the economy and luxury sectors have been more limited to date.

The adoption of robotics by hotels is still in the early days, but the robotics companies I have spoken with have all reported major increases in interest (and orders) from hotels within the past 12-18 months. The robot revolution has already largely played out in the Chinese hotel market, and there is little reason to think it will not continue to grow in other markets as well.

Beyond the Top 5

Three other technologies of note likely passed the tipping point in 2023. One of them is digital tipping, which several large brands are now rolling out. It is a no-brainer to offer something that enables guests to pay hotels’ staff more, improving the well-being of low-wage workers at little or no cost to the hotel owner. I wrote about this a bit over a year ago (link) and interest has skyrocketed in the time since, as more and better solutions have emerged on the market.

Another key technology is electric vehicle (EV) charging. The need is growing rapidly, and it is often a key differentiator for EV drivers when selecting a hotel. Whether they offer low-cost (slower) charging as amenity, fast charging at a markup, or something in between, hotels that offer EV charging will get the lion’s share of business from EV drivers. Government financial incentives also apply in many markets and have been helping persuade hotels to install chargers. I covered this about a year ago in this blog; since then the momentum has continued to build, with Hilton recently announcing a major deal with Tesla that will cover 2,000 hotels.

Finally, I am seeing much greater interest in financial reconciliations. As systems become easier to connect, it becomes easier to automate the labor-intensive, spreadsheet-centric process of verifying that financial obligations created in one system (like the PMS) are fully resolved in another (like the bank’s). In many cases due to labor shortages, discrepancies were never being found at all, and that represents revenue that is never collected or costs that are overpaid. There has been an explosion of new applications across a wide range of use cases, such as OTA commissions, gratuity management, reimbursement for award stays. Watch my next column for an in-depth review of this area.

That’s a wrap for my year in review. Happy holidays to all, and see you next year!

Visual Matrix Recognized as One of North Texas' Best Places to Work in 2023 Amid Ongoing Growth and Innovation

Visual Matrix, a leading provider of advanced technology solutions for the hospitality industry, was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the region’s “Best Places to Work.” visualmatrix.com

Cendyn and SiteMinder Establish Strategic Partnership to Grow Revenue for Hotels

Cendyn, a catalyst for digital transformation in the hospitality industry, and SiteMinder, the name behind the only software platform that unlocks the full revenue potential of hotels, are excited to announce a strategic partnership to mutually grow each other’s revenue management capabilities for the benefit of more than 70,000 hotels.cendyn.com     siteminder.com

Agilysys Appoints Managing Director to Lead Growth in the Asia Pacific Market
Agilysys, a leading global provider of hospitality software solutions and services, today announces the appointment of Tony Marshall to the position of Vice President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific.
www.agilysys.com

Jim Rowe to Lead Sales and Marketing for Property Systems Across Jonas Hospitality Brands
Jonas Hospitality is excited to announce the promotion of Jim Rowe to SVP Sales & Marketing, Property Systems in a move that will bring all brands closer together under the Jonas Hospitality Brand.
jonashospitality.com

Joshua Bergen Named CEO of CyberTek

CyberTek MSSP, an award-winning Managed Security Service Provider, has announced that it has appointed Joshua Bergen as Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, Bergen will spearhead the company’s mission to partner with businesses to overcome infinite challenges through technology and expertise. www.VENZAgroup.com

VENZA Hires Mark Peterson as Sales Executive to Lead Efforts in Latin America

VENZA, a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions for the hospitality industry, today announced that it has hired Mark Peterson as Vice President of Sales, Latin America. In this role, he will be responsible for leading sales efforts in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean and accelerating the company’s ongoing expansion across global markets. www.VENZAgroup.com

VENZA Expands its Security Team; Extends Leadership in Compliance, PCI DSS, and Cybersecurity

In a strategic move to bolster its position as a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions in the hospitality industry, VENZA has announced the expansion of its Security Team with the addition of three new hires: Edgar Ayala and Nathan Brown as Security Analysts, and Elizabeth Parente as a Vulnerability Scanning Engineer. www.VENZAgroup.com

Jonas Hospitality Promotes Jake Lewis to President of Property Systems

Jonas Hospitality is excited to announce the promotion of Jake Lewis to President of Property Systems, to further the technical innovation and collaboration happening across the portfolio of Jonas Hospitality companies. Grouping the operations of several Jonas Hospitality companies under one leader will drive a cohesive vision for how our teams and technology collaborate to effectively maximize growth and potential of each company. jonashospitality.com

Strawberry Migrates Their 100th Hotel Onto Mews Hospitality Cloud

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud that was recently named the World’s Best PMS Provider, has reached a significant milestone in the successful rollout of its Property Management System (PMS) across all Strawberry Hotels. www.mews.com

Mews Surpasses 1,000 Marketplace Integrations with Hospitality’s Biggest App Store

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud, hits another significant milestone as it continues to expand the world’s largest network of integrated hospitality apps. www.mews.com

Noble House Hotels & Resorts Moves Property Management to the Cloud with Infor

Infor, an industry cloud company, announced that Noble House Hotels & Resorts, a curated collection of award-winning boutique hotels, luxury resorts, and unforgettable adventures, has selected Infor Hospitality Management Solution (HMS) for its property management system (PMS) of record.

www.infor.com

IDeaS Launches Resorts Revenue Council, Convening Commercial Leaders from Resorts and All-Inclusive Properties across the Globe

IDeaS, the world’s leading provider of revenue management software and services, announced today the launch of the IDeaS’ Resorts Revenue Council, a dynamic in-person and virtual community where industry leaders, creative thinkers, and innovators from the resort and all-inclusive space will meet regularly to discuss key industry challenges and catalyze the evolution of a holistic approach to commercial management for resorts. ideas.com

BWH Hotels Scandinavia’s Revenue Center Selects FLYR for Hospitality as Preferred Revenue Management System

With FLYR’s AI-driven revenue management system, BWH Hotels Scandinavia’s Revenue Center will be able to unlock next-level decision intelligence and automation for 56 properties – delivering maximum revenue potential and operational efficiency.

flyr.com

PPDS To Reveal Major Expansion Plans at ISE 2024, With New Products, New Markets and Exciting New Partnerships Kicking Things Off in Barcelona

PPDS is delighted to confirm its participation at ISE 2024 (30 Jan - 2 Feb), with an exciting array of new performance and experience enhancing products and major partnership announcements, including official entry into a multi-billion-euro market, plus another series of world first displays kicking things off in Barcelona.
www.ppds.com

Cloud5 Communications Partners with PureHD to Provide Hotels New Guestroom Entertainment Option

Cloud5 Communications, a leading provider of IT solutions and services for more than 5,000 hotels across the Americas, today announced its partnership with PureHD, a leading provider of digital, high-definition, interactive streaming solutions for the hospitality industry. Through this partnership, Cloud5 will now offer in-room entertainment, on-demand streaming, and free-to-guest television in addition to its award-winning HSIA and telecommunications solutions.
www.cloud5.com     www.purehd.com

Nomadix Expands Hotel TV Casting with New Version of Google Chromecast

Nomadix Inc​., bringing connected experiences to life, today announced the expansion of its TV Casting solution. The hospitality industry has been facing two major TV Casting challenges: the end of sale for Chromecast v3 and the Netflix account-sharing policy changes. Nomadix solved both with its latest release, making it simple for guests to enjoy their own shows, including Netflix, on its hospitality-focused Nomadix Casting platform.
nomadix.com

New Mews Kiosk Cuts Check-In Time by a Third and Generates Thousands in Extra Hotel Revenue

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud, has unveiled its next-generation kiosk solution for hotels. The Kiosk can be used for check-in and check-out, by guests or by staff.
mews.com

Continuing to grow: dailypoint™ opens office in DubaiContinued International Expansion of a New Dubai Office

dailypoint, a leading Data Management and CRM platform for sophisticated individual hotels and hotel groups, proudly announces its continued international expansion with the opening of a new office in Dubai.
www.dailypoint.com

Knowland Announces Certification Program to Advance Sales Proficiency and Increase Hotel ROI

Knowland, the world’s leading provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality, announced today the Knowland Certification Program. The program includes three certification credentials to help hotel sales professionals level up their skill sets, elevate their professional profile, and demonstrate proficiency with management. www.knowland.com

Clairvoyix Announces a Room Block Email Confirmation System and Room Block Customer Service Tool for OPERA Cloud.

The latest OPERA Cloud-enabled solution from Clairvoyix allows properties who book rooms and events without meeting space the ability to offer comprehensive email confirmations without the need for a sales and catering system. www.clairvoyix.com

Pay Integration for CoreSelectTM Live, M3 and AvidXchange Partnership Revolutionizes Hotel Accounting with Fully Automated Financial Management Solution

M3 Accounting Solutions, Inc. (“M3”), one of North America’s top providers of accounting software and services, and AvidXchange, a leading provider of accounts payable (AP) automation software and payment solutions for middle market businesses and their suppliers, announced a partnership to provide hotels a fully automated financial management solution. www.m3as.com

Spark by Hilton Leverages Think Simplicity at Germantown, DC Location

Think Simplicity, a cloud communication technology provider of all-inclusive voice and chat solutions for the hospitality industry, announced today Spark by Hilton™ will utilize the company’s communication platform at its Germantown Washington DC North location. www.thinksimplicity.com

Sertifi Partners with Leading Travel and Payment Companies to Ensure Frictionless Arrivals for Business Travelers

Sertifi, developers of a digital and secure credit card authorization solution used by over 15,000 customers, is excited to celebrate 12M+ authorizations received via the platform since launching its authorization solution in 2018. corp.sertify.com

Shephard's Beach Resort Maximizes Guest and Property Security with Surveillance Camera Deployment by Hotel Internet Services

Hotel Internet Services (HIS), a full-service provider of internet services and solutions for the hospitality industry, has announced its successful implementation of a robust network of security camera solutions at Shephard’s Beach Resort in Clearwater, Florida. www.hotelwifi.com

Dutch Language Translations Highlight Depth of VENZA’s Security Awareness Training

VENZA, a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions for the hospitality industry, today announced that it has made its flagship introductory security awareness courses available in Dutch. This additional translation reflects the company’s continued global expansion and commitment to providing accessible training courses to all users. www.VENZAgroup.com

Nonius Hub Achieves Milestone: 150+ Integrations Now Available!

This milestone solidifies our position as the leading platform for seamless and efficient hotel operations and reflects our commitment to delivering an unparalleled suite of integration solutions. www.noniussolutions.com

HSMAI Announces 2023 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) announces the Top 25 Extraordinary Minds awardees to be presented in conjunction with the HSMAI Adrian Awards Celebration on February 13, 2024, at the New York Marriott Marquis. adrianawards.hsmai.org

HFTP Announces BAE Ventures as Exclusive Sponsor of Entrepreneur 20X Europe 2024
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) is pleased to announce BAE Ventures as the sponsor of Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) Europe. The successful pitch competition featuring hospitality technology start-ups will conclude the first day of HFTP’s inaugural Digital Horizons 360 (DH360) symposium on Tuesday, 20 February 2024. www.hftp.org

AHLA Expands Government Affairs Team with New Tax Policy VP

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today announced the hiring of Jessica Brady as vice president of federal affairs for tax policy. www.ahla.com

FutureLog Takes Center Stage as Gold Sponsor at the 21st Annual HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific

FutureLog, a leading innovator in hospitality technology solutions, proudly announced its Gold sponsorship of the prestigious 21st Annual HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence. The Hotel Management magazine event was held on Friday, November 24, 2023, at The Star Event Centre Sydney. www.futurelog.com

UrVenue Sponsors ILHA and INSPIRE Luxury Hospitality Conference

The International Luxury Hotel Association (ILHA) is thrilled to announce UrVenue as a two-year sponsor of the association and its upcoming INSPIRE Luxury Hospitality Conference. urvenue.com

Amadeus Data Reveals Los Cabos, Mexico to Be Top Hotel Destination for Christmas and New Year's Travel

As we head towards the festive season, hoteliers are preparing for demand as people look to travel over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Global technology provider Amadeus, with its unique forward-looking business intelligence data, is seeing a peak in demand over the Christmas and New Year period across major markets around the world. www.amadeus.com/hospitality

Sojern Reveals First of Its Kind 'State of Destination Marketing 2024 Report'

Produced through a partnership between Sojern and Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT), and supported by Brand USA, Destination Canada and the European Travel Commission, the report sheds light on the latest industry trends and challenges. www.sojern.com

When you get to mid-December it’s natural to reflect on the past year. I think everyone has memorable moments that stand out. As I look back on the previous 12 months, mine happened on April 3 when I had a knee replacement surgery. Yes, things like this happen when you get older, but if that’s the worst thing for me health-wise then that’s ok with me.

Of course, as we look back at what has happened, and in many cases, didn’t happen with technology in the hospitality world, it’s impossible to pick just one thing. Doug Rice in his Definitely Doug column that follows does a great job looking back at this year with a focus on technology trends. Are half the hotels really using Generative AI? Are closed systems truly a thing of the past? How about sustainability? Revenue beyond the rooms? How many hotels are investing in robots? In our last Siegel Sez of the year Doug does a great job reflecting on 2023 with a tease to what lies ahead.

For the many thousands of you who have been reading my Siegel Sez rants for more than 20 years, the team at Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online thanks you. And we especially thank Doug for sharing his thoughts on how technology is affecting the hotel industry. We hope you have a great holiday season and let’s all look forward to a great 2024. I will see you one last time this year after the latest technology happenings that follow with our final attempt this year at ‘you-know-what’!

Happy Holidays!

Rich
rich@hospitalityupgrade.com

Definitely Doug 12/8/23: Top 5 Hotel Technology Trends from 2023

Technology in the hotel industry does not change quickly. Every year, we see a few new ideas emerge. Some turn out to be fads and never get much traction. Many others get a fair amount of adoption, but only within certain niche markets. Only a few really start to take hold. Today I will assess which of the new technologies that have emerged in recent years are likely to be in this last (and most important) category, recognizing that they can still take years (often decades) to work their way through the industry.

Driving Forces

Several underlying factors are responsible for many of the innovations of the past few years and especially in 2023. These include:

  • Continued shortages of, and increased costs for, labor in most parts of the world
  • Increased environmental awareness, sharply increased costs for energy (particularly in Europe), introduction of much more stringent environmental regulations in many countries, and a rapid shift towards electric vehicles in major world markets
  • The evolution of artificial intelligence, driving new solutions that were previously impractical to automat
  • Maturation of cloud computing and the continued expansion of open-source libraries and no-code/low-code tools that make software development much faster, and that have led to a proliferation of tech startups focusing on hotels
  • A growing guest preference for self-service digital options, particularly among younger consumers; and
  • A shift from the historical focus on rooms revenue towards total revenue, including both from ancillary products and services within the hotel, and from monetization of the local environment.

These factors are underlying drivers behind every one of the “top trends to watch” I have selected from the past year.  Here are the top five, plus a few bonus ones at the end.

Technology in the hotel industry does not change quickly. Every year, we see a few new ideas emerge.

Some turn out to be fads and never get much traction. Many others get a fair amount of adoption, but only within certain niche markets. Only a few really start to take hold. Today I will assess which of the new technologies that have emerged in recent years are likely to be in this last (and most important) category, recognizing that they can still take years (often decades) to work their way through the industry.

Driving Forces

Several underlying factors are responsible for many of the innovations of the past few years and especially in 2023. These include:

  • Continued shortages of, and increased costs for, labor in most parts of the world

  • Increased environmental awareness, sharply increased costs for energy (particularly in Europe), introduction of much more stringent environmental regulations in many countries, and a rapid shift towards electric vehicles in major world markets

  • The evolution of artificial intelligence, driving new solutions that were previously impractical to automate

  • Maturation of cloud computing and the continued expansion of open-source libraries and no-code/low-code tools that make software development much faster, and that have led to a proliferation of tech startups focusing on hotels

  • A growing guest preference for self-service digital options, particularly among younger consumers; and

  • A shift from the historical focus on rooms revenue towards total revenue, including both from ancillary products and services within the hotel, and from monetization of the local environment.

These factors are underlying drivers behind every one of the “top trends to watch” I have selected from the past year.  Here are the top five, plus a few bonus ones at the end.

1.     Generative AI Changes the Landscape

In recent memory, nothing in the technology world grabbed the headlines as completely as ChatGPT did when it was announced just a year ago. It represents a major advance especially in content creation, especially for marketing content that needs to be compelling but that many hotels find challenging to write and keep current. Even if what Generative AI creates is rarely perfect, it is usually good enough that humans need only focus on a final polishing. And where 100% accuracy is not required, it can satisfy needs that were not previously addressable.

For example, as a traveler, I find the AI-generated review summaries that TripAdvisor is now including on many hotel listings to be a great help when I am searching for a hotel. Similarly, while hotel chat tools that have incorporated Generative AI are far from perfect, they can be as good or even better than the newly hired 19-year-old front desk clerk that might answer chat requests in the absence of AI.

Just one year in, there are many ways that hotels are using Generative AI. I covered some of them a few months back in this article and will not repeat them here. But I also see companies trying to apply it to problems it cannot solve very well. Generative AI is based on language modeling, and as such can respond in very human-like ways. It can often provide the right answer to many general questions and to some specific ones.

But it fails miserably at tasks like itinerary planning, which requires consideration of prerequisites, logistics, logic, constraints, and time planning. I have tried many times to use ChatGPT or Bing to suggest leisure trip itineraries, and while it can recommend a good selection and sequence of things to see and do, it has almost no sense of how long the itinerary will take, whether the necessary transportation will be available at the times and locations needed, whether attractions will be open when you get there, or any other constraints that you or the providers may have. These aspects are not solvable with language patterns; additional overlays to large language models (which have yet to emerge) will be needed to address them.

Generative AI cannot solve everything (at least, not yet) but it can enable hotels to produce much more compelling and useful marketing content with less human input, and it is starting to emerge as a component of service as well, for its ability to address common guest questions and requests faster and less expensively than humans. It is not surprising that surveys indicate that nearly half of hotels are using Generative AI – just a year after ChatGPT was launched. In my 35 years in the hotel technology space, I cannot recall a technology that was adopted faster.

2.     Closed Systems are Fading Away

This year marked a milestone as the last major hotel company, Marriott, finally announced a plan to replace the 1980s-era property management system (PMS) that is used in most of its hotels. Older PMSs were built in an era when system interconnectivity was poor and inter-system cooperation was less essential. Interfaces were often accomplished by having one system drop a file with a transaction into a folder on an interface PC, which another system could pick up and process whenever it was ready. These closed-system designs led to integrations that were often expensive, unreliable, difficult to monitor, and hard to repair when things went wrong or to update when needs changed. And because these systems operated on local computers, it was difficult, expensive, and often disruptive to update them.

Newer systems, now adopted or in progress for all major hotel brands, provide much more accessible (and often free or nearly free) connectivity through open Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). Often available to partners either publicly or upon registration, these enable other systems to make processing or data requests to the PMS (and vice versa). And because these newer systems are cloud-based, they are relatively easy to update. Most updates require little or no effort on the part of the hotels using them. Major hotel groups that have migrated or are migrating to platforms such as from Agilysys, HotelKey, Infor, Sabre Hospitality, and SkyTouch Technology, have greatly reduced technology friction and will continue to reap benefits over time. Many smaller hotel groups are also benefiting, with hundreds of vendors to choose from and a few, such as Cloudbeds and Mews, starting to achieve real scale.

For many years, the elephant in the room was Oracle’s Opera PMS, by far the most common system globally. It has been widely seen as the most functional system, especially for larger and more complex or upscale hotels, and can be deployed in more countries than any of its competitors.

However, Opera long had a legacy design and business process that were less than welcoming to third-party integrations. It was also designed for deployment on premise-based servers (or in later years, hosted single-tenancy instances, which was only marginally better). Oracle (and MICROS in the two decades before it was acquired) also had a reputation for charging high fees for interfaces; the ROI impact hampered both innovation on the vendor side (if it required integration with the PMS) and adoption of those innovations by hotels.However, Oracle’s corporate DNA (dating to long before its acquisition of MICROS in 2014) has always been open systems, and after several years of false starts, they have within the past four to five years made significant inroads at opening up Opera’s APIs and reducing or eliminating the costs for both other vendors and customers who need to use them. In 2023, Oracle started aggressively moving customers to the new Opera Cloud platform as well. These changes are still works in progress and may take a few more years to fully play out, but the level of complaints from both customers and other vendors in the hotel ecosystem has been greatly reduced. If Oracle is not yet as “open” as some of its newer counterparts, it is at least well on the way.

Open systems create the opportunity for better delivery of guest self-service options as well. So far, only a few PMS companies have taken that to heart and started delivering a single solution that has both staff- and guest-facing user interfaces (as discussed in this recent blog), but hundreds of add-on modules have appeared and are able to connect easily with many of the more open PMSs on the market.

Finally, the launch and early adoption trends of the new HTNG Express standards are starting to simplify many of the simpler PMS connectivity requirements that previously required more work to implement than many vendors found practical. Among PMSs, Agilysys, Oracle Opera, and Visual Matrix have already adopted these standards, along with at least 15 non-PMS vendors. The new standards do not address some of the more complex integration requirements for PMSs (such as for distribution systems) but greatly reduce the workload required to implement many post-booking and operational use cases.

3.     Green Technology Pays Off

Sustainability emerged as a priority for a few hotels and vendors about 15 years ago, but for many years the uptake was anemic and growing only slowly. That started to change a few years ago but has gotten major boosts within the past two years, especially in Europe. The impact of the Ukraine war on European energy costs was a major driver, but so has been increasingly aggressive legislation. Additionally, more hotel buyers (notably corporate travel managers, meeting planners, and Gen Z and millennial consumers) worldwide are prioritizing sustainability when they select hotels.

To be sure, much of the attention to sustainability is still lip service, but that is changing. Certification programs, such as LEED, BREEAM, Green Globe, GreenLeaders from TripAdvisor, Green Key Global, and many others are making it easier for buyers to impartially assess hotels’ environmental footprint. Legislation with teeth is starting to be introduced as well; the United Kingdom has targeted a 68% reduction in energy intensity for hotels by 2034, and hotels that fail to meet requirements may have their operating licenses revoked. An interesting CBRE study summarizes progress especially in Europe. While most European hoteliers will already be familiar with many of the developments, U.S. hoteliers would be wise to pay heed.

Sustainability products, and particularly those that can reduce energy consumption, are getting more attention in the industry. Most common are energy management solutions for guest rooms, which are the greatest energy users in most hotels. But we are also starting to see a maturation of solutions for water management, kitchens, food waste, laundry, lighting, and other applications. Power management is another emerging area, with some hotels utilizing self-generated energy, most commonly from solar panels, and energy storage solutions.

4.     Revenue Beyond the Guest Room

Many real estate investors are now realizing that the digitization of the hotel experience can open up new revenue opportunities that were previously too costly to justify. These are now often supported via low-cost and/or zero-risk (e.g., commission-based) software products. Resorts and some high-end hotels have long offered ancillary services such as spa, dining, golf, ski lift tickets, or water sports, but these were often booked manually, or with clumsy digital interfaces.

Within the past couple of years, however, a tsunami of new vendors (and in a few cases enhancements from existing vendors) have begun offering revenue-producing add-ons that are used during the booking experience, in pre-stay emails or text messages, or onsite via chat, guest app, QR code, or kiosk. They sell what the more basic booking engines and online travel agencies often cannot: amenities, spa experiences, tennis lessons, cooking classes, kayak rentals … you name it, and you can sell it. And of course, they can also enhance room revenue by selling early check-in, late check-out, or room upgrades. A few can even guarantee (for a price) room features such as fireplaces, balconies, kitchenettes, or even a specific room, using some form of attribute based selling (covered in a two-part blog last spring here and here).

Increasingly, the quest for additional revenue is extending beyond the hotel building and into the local community. Hotel bookings are usually the first thing a traveler books in a city, and who better than the hotel to suggest (and sell and even earn a commission from) the activities that are of the most interest to, and most convenient for, their guests? Dozens of new vendors provide solutions to help hotels monetize these opportunities (I covered some of them in an earlier blog here).

The big hotel brands have taken note and started to incorporate some of these products into their loyalty apps. But hotels may not want to stop there, since these apps often reach only a small percentage of guests (and especially of leisure guests). More and more hotels are reporting success with reaching out to guests pre-arrival (especially via text message) to make them aware of things to do during their stay and to book them. Unlike the brand apps, text messages or emails can reach almost all guests – and also unlike many brand apps, any commissions go to the hotel rather than to the franchisor.

5.     Robot Labor

Robots were launched in hotels several years ago, mostly as a novelty. However, adoption has accelerated markedly in the past year or so as capabilities improve and costs decline. And despite concerns that robots carry the risk of de-humanizing hospitality, the most commonly adopted robotics applications have not done that. Rather, robots are finding steady applications in and around kitchen and food preparation areas, busing food between kitchens and function space, providing security in the building and parking lots, and for cleaning tasks (especially vacuuming). Robots can replace some of the less skilled staff that are proving impossible for many hotels to hire, and they can be significantly cheaper as well (especially when you factor in costs of shift coverage, training time, and turnover).

I covered some of the interesting applications in a two-part blog (here and here) earlier this year. Robots can also interact with guests and enhance the guest experience, although whether this is appropriate will vary from hotel to hotel and guest to guest. Robots can wander the lobby, interact with guests waiting in line (and in some cases address whatever they were there for autonomously), offer welcome drinks, entertain children, and even escort guests to their room or to hotel facilities. Many guests find them entertaining, as well. They generally get very positive reviews from both staff and guests, across hotel categories ranging from select service to upscale; applications in the economy and luxury sectors have been more limited to date.

The adoption of robotics by hotels is still in the early days, but the robotics companies I have spoken with have all reported major increases in interest (and orders) from hotels within the past 12-18 months. The robot revolution has already largely played out in the Chinese hotel market, and there is little reason to think it will not continue to grow in other markets as well.

Beyond the Top 5

Three other technologies of note likely passed the tipping point in 2023. One of them is digital tipping, which several large brands are now rolling out. It is a no-brainer to offer something that enables guests to pay hotels’ staff more, improving the well-being of low-wage workers at little or no cost to the hotel owner. I wrote about this a bit over a year ago (link) and interest has skyrocketed in the time since, as more and better solutions have emerged on the market.

Another key technology is electric vehicle (EV) charging. The need is growing rapidly, and it is often a key differentiator for EV drivers when selecting a hotel. Whether they offer low-cost (slower) charging as amenity, fast charging at a markup, or something in between, hotels that offer EV charging will get the lion’s share of business from EV drivers. Government financial incentives also apply in many markets and have been helping persuade hotels to install chargers. I covered this about a year ago in this blog; since then the momentum has continued to build, with Hilton recently announcing a major deal with Tesla that will cover 2,000 hotels.

Finally, I am seeing much greater interest in financial reconciliations. As systems become easier to connect, it becomes easier to automate the labor-intensive, spreadsheet-centric process of verifying that financial obligations created in one system (like the PMS) are fully resolved in another (like the bank’s). In many cases due to labor shortages, discrepancies were never being found at all, and that represents revenue that is never collected or costs that are overpaid. There has been an explosion of new applications across a wide range of use cases, such as OTA commissions, gratuity management, reimbursement for award stays. Watch my next column for an in-depth review of this area.

That’s a wrap for my year in review. Happy holidays to all, and see you next year!

CORPORATE NEWS

Visual Matrix Recognized as One of North Texas' Best Places to Work in 2023 Amid Ongoing Growth and Innovation

Visual Matrix, a leading provider of advanced technology solutions for the hospitality industry, was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the region’s “Best Places to Work.” visualmatrix.com

Cendyn and SiteMinder Establish Strategic Partnership to Grow Revenue for Hotels

Cendyn, a catalyst for digital transformation in the hospitality industry, and SiteMinder, the name behind the only software platform that unlocks the full revenue potential of hotels, are excited to announce a strategic partnership to mutually grow each other’s revenue management capabilities for the benefit of more than 70,000 hotels.cendyn.com     siteminder.com

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Agilysys Appoints Managing Director to Lead Growth in the Asia Pacific Market
Agilysys, a leading global provider of hospitality software solutions and services, today announces the appointment of Tony Marshall to the position of Vice President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific.
www.agilysys.com

Jim Rowe to Lead Sales and Marketing for Property Systems Across Jonas Hospitality Brands
Jonas Hospitality is excited to announce the promotion of Jim Rowe to SVP Sales & Marketing, Property Systems in a move that will bring all brands closer together under the Jonas Hospitality Brand.
jonashospitality.com

Joshua Bergen Named CEO of CyberTek

CyberTek MSSP, an award-winning Managed Security Service Provider, has announced that it has appointed Joshua Bergen as Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, Bergen will spearhead the company’s mission to partner with businesses to overcome infinite challenges through technology and expertise. www.VENZAgroup.com

VENZA Hires Mark Peterson as Sales Executive to Lead Efforts in Latin America

VENZA, a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions for the hospitality industry, today announced that it has hired Mark Peterson as Vice President of Sales, Latin America. In this role, he will be responsible for leading sales efforts in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean and accelerating the company’s ongoing expansion across global markets. www.VENZAgroup.com

VENZA Expands its Security Team; Extends Leadership in Compliance, PCI DSS, and Cybersecurity

In a strategic move to bolster its position as a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions in the hospitality industry, VENZA has announced the expansion of its Security Team with the addition of three new hires: Edgar Ayala and Nathan Brown as Security Analysts, and Elizabeth Parente as a Vulnerability Scanning Engineer. www.VENZAgroup.com

Jonas Hospitality Promotes Jake Lewis to President of Property Systems

Jonas Hospitality is excited to announce the promotion of Jake Lewis to President of Property Systems, to further the technical innovation and collaboration happening across the portfolio of Jonas Hospitality companies. Grouping the operations of several Jonas Hospitality companies under one leader will drive a cohesive vision for how our teams and technology collaborate to effectively maximize growth and potential of each company. jonashospitality.com

GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

Strawberry Migrates Their 100th Hotel Onto Mews Hospitality Cloud

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud that was recently named the World’s Best PMS Provider, has reached a significant milestone in the successful rollout of its Property Management System (PMS) across all Strawberry Hotels. www.mews.com

Mews Surpasses 1,000 Marketplace Integrations with Hospitality’s Biggest App Store

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud, hits another significant milestone as it continues to expand the world’s largest network of integrated hospitality apps. www.mews.com

Noble House Hotels & Resorts Moves Property Management to the Cloud with Infor

Infor, an industry cloud company, announced that Noble House Hotels & Resorts, a curated collection of award-winning boutique hotels, luxury resorts, and unforgettable adventures, has selected Infor Hospitality Management Solution (HMS) for its property management system (PMS) of record.

www.infor.com

REVENUE MANAGEMENT & ANALYTICS

IDeaS Launches Resorts Revenue Council, Convening Commercial Leaders from Resorts and All-Inclusive Properties across the Globe

IDeaS, the world’s leading provider of revenue management software and services, announced today the launch of the IDeaS’ Resorts Revenue Council, a dynamic in-person and virtual community where industry leaders, creative thinkers, and innovators from the resort and all-inclusive space will meet regularly to discuss key industry challenges and catalyze the evolution of a holistic approach to commercial management for resorts. ideas.com

BWH Hotels Scandinavia’s Revenue Center Selects FLYR for Hospitality as Preferred Revenue Management System

With FLYR’s AI-driven revenue management system, BWH Hotels Scandinavia’s Revenue Center will be able to unlock next-level decision intelligence and automation for 56 properties – delivering maximum revenue potential and operational efficiency.

flyr.com

GUEST FACING TECHNOLOGY

PPDS To Reveal Major Expansion Plans at ISE 2024, With New Products, New Markets and Exciting New Partnerships Kicking Things Off in Barcelona

PPDS is delighted to confirm its participation at ISE 2024 (30 Jan - 2 Feb), with an exciting array of new performance and experience enhancing products and major partnership announcements, including official entry into a multi-billion-euro market, plus another series of world first displays kicking things off in Barcelona.
www.ppds.com

Cloud5 Communications Partners with PureHD to Provide Hotels New Guestroom Entertainment Option

Cloud5 Communications, a leading provider of IT solutions and services for more than 5,000 hotels across the Americas, today announced its partnership with PureHD, a leading provider of digital, high-definition, interactive streaming solutions for the hospitality industry. Through this partnership, Cloud5 will now offer in-room entertainment, on-demand streaming, and free-to-guest television in addition to its award-winning HSIA and telecommunications solutions.
www.cloud5.com     www.purehd.com

Nomadix Expands Hotel TV Casting with New Version of Google Chromecast

Nomadix Inc​., bringing connected experiences to life, today announced the expansion of its TV Casting solution. The hospitality industry has been facing two major TV Casting challenges: the end of sale for Chromecast v3 and the Netflix account-sharing policy changes. Nomadix solved both with its latest release, making it simple for guests to enjoy their own shows, including Netflix, on its hospitality-focused Nomadix Casting platform.
nomadix.com

New Mews Kiosk Cuts Check-In Time by a Third and Generates Thousands in Extra Hotel Revenue

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud, has unveiled its next-generation kiosk solution for hotels. The Kiosk can be used for check-in and check-out, by guests or by staff.
mews.com

MARKETING

Continuing to grow: dailypoint™ opens office in DubaiContinued International Expansion of a New Dubai Office

dailypoint, a leading Data Management and CRM platform for sophisticated individual hotels and hotel groups, proudly announces its continued international expansion with the opening of a new office in Dubai.
www.dailypoint.com

SALES & CATERING

Knowland Announces Certification Program to Advance Sales Proficiency and Increase Hotel ROI

Knowland, the world’s leading provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality, announced today the Knowland Certification Program. The program includes three certification credentials to help hotel sales professionals level up their skill sets, elevate their professional profile, and demonstrate proficiency with management. www.knowland.com

Clairvoyix Announces a Room Block Email Confirmation System and Room Block Customer Service Tool for OPERA Cloud.

The latest OPERA Cloud-enabled solution from Clairvoyix allows properties who book rooms and events without meeting space the ability to offer comprehensive email confirmations without the need for a sales and catering system. www.clairvoyix.com

BACK OFFICE

Pay Integration for CoreSelectTM Live, M3 and AvidXchange Partnership Revolutionizes Hotel Accounting with Fully Automated Financial Management Solution

M3 Accounting Solutions, Inc. (“M3”), one of North America’s top providers of accounting software and services, and AvidXchange, a leading provider of accounts payable (AP) automation software and payment solutions for middle market businesses and their suppliers, announced a partnership to provide hotels a fully automated financial management solution. www.m3as.com

COMMUNICATIONS & INFRASTRUCTURE

Spark by Hilton Leverages Think Simplicity at Germantown, DC Location

Think Simplicity, a cloud communication technology provider of all-inclusive voice and chat solutions for the hospitality industry, announced today Spark by Hilton™ will utilize the company’s communication platform at its Germantown Washington DC North location. www.thinksimplicity.com

PAYMENT PROCESSING

Sertifi Partners with Leading Travel and Payment Companies to Ensure Frictionless Arrivals for Business Travelers

Sertifi, developers of a digital and secure credit card authorization solution used by over 15,000 customers, is excited to celebrate 12M+ authorizations received via the platform since launching its authorization solution in 2018. corp.sertify.com

SECURITY

Shephard's Beach Resort Maximizes Guest and Property Security with Surveillance Camera Deployment by Hotel Internet Services

Hotel Internet Services (HIS), a full-service provider of internet services and solutions for the hospitality industry, has announced its successful implementation of a robust network of security camera solutions at Shephard’s Beach Resort in Clearwater, Florida. www.hotelwifi.com

Dutch Language Translations Highlight Depth of VENZA’s Security Awareness Training

VENZA, a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions for the hospitality industry, today announced that it has made its flagship introductory security awareness courses available in Dutch. This additional translation reflects the company’s continued global expansion and commitment to providing accessible training courses to all users. www.VENZAgroup.com

ARCHITECHURE & INTEGRATION

Nonius Hub Achieves Milestone: 150+ Integrations Now Available!

This milestone solidifies our position as the leading platform for seamless and efficient hotel operations and reflects our commitment to delivering an unparalleled suite of integration solutions. www.noniussolutions.com

HOSPITALITY EVENTS & ASSOCIATION NEWS

HSMAI Announces 2023 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) announces the Top 25 Extraordinary Minds awardees to be presented in conjunction with the HSMAI Adrian Awards Celebration on February 13, 2024, at the New York Marriott Marquis. adrianawards.hsmai.org

HFTP Announces BAE Ventures as Exclusive Sponsor of Entrepreneur 20X Europe 2024
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) is pleased to announce BAE Ventures as the sponsor of Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) Europe. The successful pitch competition featuring hospitality technology start-ups will conclude the first day of HFTP’s inaugural Digital Horizons 360 (DH360) symposium on Tuesday, 20 February 2024. www.hftp.org

AHLA Expands Government Affairs Team with New Tax Policy VP

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today announced the hiring of Jessica Brady as vice president of federal affairs for tax policy. www.ahla.com

FutureLog Takes Center Stage as Gold Sponsor at the 21st Annual HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific

FutureLog, a leading innovator in hospitality technology solutions, proudly announced its Gold sponsorship of the prestigious 21st Annual HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence. The Hotel Management magazine event was held on Friday, November 24, 2023, at The Star Event Centre Sydney. www.futurelog.com

UrVenue Sponsors ILHA and INSPIRE Luxury Hospitality Conference

The International Luxury Hotel Association (ILHA) is thrilled to announce UrVenue as a two-year sponsor of the association and its upcoming INSPIRE Luxury Hospitality Conference. urvenue.com

MARKETING REPORTS

Amadeus Data Reveals Los Cabos, Mexico to Be Top Hotel Destination for Christmas and New Year's Travel

As we head towards the festive season, hoteliers are preparing for demand as people look to travel over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Global technology provider Amadeus, with its unique forward-looking business intelligence data, is seeing a peak in demand over the Christmas and New Year period across major markets around the world. www.amadeus.com/hospitality

Sojern Reveals First of Its Kind 'State of Destination Marketing 2024 Report'

Produced through a partnership between Sojern and Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT), and supported by Brand USA, Destination Canada and the European Travel Commission, the report sheds light on the latest industry trends and challenges. www.sojern.com

When you get to mid-December it’s natural to reflect on the past year. I think everyone has memorable moments that stand out. As I look back on the previous 12 months, mine happened on April 3 when I had a knee replacement surgery. Yes, things like this happen when you get older, but if that’s the worst thing for me health-wise then that’s ok with me.

Of course, as we look back at what has happened, and in many cases, didn’t happen with technology in the hospitality world, it’s impossible to pick just one thing. Doug Rice in his Definitely Doug column that follows does a great job looking back at this year with a focus on technology trends. Are half the hotels really using Generative AI? Are closed systems truly a thing of the past? How about sustainability? Revenue beyond the rooms? How many hotels are investing in robots? In our last Siegel Sez of the year Doug does a great job reflecting on 2023 with a tease to what lies ahead.

For the many thousands of you who have been reading my Siegel Sez rants for more than 20 years, the team at Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online thanks you. And we especially thank Doug for sharing his thoughts on how technology is affecting the hotel industry. We hope you have a great holiday season and let’s all look forward to a great 2024. I will see you one last time this year after the latest technology happenings that follow with our final attempt this year at ‘you-know-what’!

Happy Holidays!

Rich
rich@hospitalityupgrade.com

Siegel Sez 12/08/23

When you get to mid-December it’s natural to reflect on the past year. I think everyone has memorable moments that stand out. As I look back on the previous 12 months, mine happened on April 3 when I had a knee replacement surgery. Yes, things like this happen when you get older, but if that’s the worst thing for me health-wise then that’s ok with me.

Of course, as we look back at what has happened, and in many cases, didn’t happen with technology in the hospitality world, it’s impossible to pick just one thing. Doug Rice in his Definitely Doug column that follows does a great job looking back at this year with a focus on technology trends. Are half the hotels really using Generative AI? Are closed systems truly a thing of the past? How about sustainability? Revenue beyond the rooms? How many hotels are investing in robots? In our last Siegel Sez of the year Doug does a great job reflecting on 2023 with a tease to what lies ahead.

For the many thousands of you who have been reading my Siegel Sez rants for more than 20 years, the team at Hospitality Upgrade and Hotel Online thanks you. And we especially thank Doug for sharing his thoughts on how technology is affecting the hotel industry. We hope you have a great holiday season and let’s all look forward to a great 2024. I will see you one last time this year after the latest technology happenings that follow with our final attempt this year at ‘you-know-what’!

Happy Holidays!

Rich
rich@hospitalityupgrade.com

Definitely Doug 12/8/23: Top 5 Hotel Technology Trends from 2023

Technology in the hotel industry does not change quickly. Every year, we see a few new ideas emerge. Some turn out to be fads and never get much traction. Many others get a fair amount of adoption, but only within certain niche markets. Only a few really start to take hold. Today I will assess which of the new technologies that have emerged in recent years are likely to be in this last (and most important) category, recognizing that they can still take years (often decades) to work their way through the industry.

Driving Forces

Several underlying factors are responsible for many of the innovations of the past few years and especially in 2023. These include:

  • Continued shortages of, and increased costs for, labor in most parts of the world
  • Increased environmental awareness, sharply increased costs for energy (particularly in Europe), introduction of much more stringent environmental regulations in many countries, and a rapid shift towards electric vehicles in major world markets
  • The evolution of artificial intelligence, driving new solutions that were previously impractical to automat
  • Maturation of cloud computing and the continued expansion of open-source libraries and no-code/low-code tools that make software development much faster, and that have led to a proliferation of tech startups focusing on hotels
  • A growing guest preference for self-service digital options, particularly among younger consumers; and
  • A shift from the historical focus on rooms revenue towards total revenue, including both from ancillary products and services within the hotel, and from monetization of the local environment.

These factors are underlying drivers behind every one of the “top trends to watch” I have selected from the past year.  Here are the top five, plus a few bonus ones at the end.

CORPORATE NEWS

Visual Matrix Recognized as One of North Texas' Best Places to Work in 2023 Amid Ongoing Growth and Innovation

Visual Matrix, a leading provider of advanced technology solutions for the hospitality industry, was recognized by the Dallas Business Journal as one of the region’s “Best Places to Work.” visualmatrix.com

Cendyn and SiteMinder Establish Strategic Partnership to Grow Revenue for Hotels

Cendyn, a catalyst for digital transformation in the hospitality industry, and SiteMinder, the name behind the only software platform that unlocks the full revenue potential of hotels, are excited to announce a strategic partnership to mutually grow each other’s revenue management capabilities for the benefit of more than 70,000 hotels.cendyn.com     siteminder.com

PEOPLE ON THE MOVE

Agilysys Appoints Managing Director to Lead Growth in the Asia Pacific Market
Agilysys, a leading global provider of hospitality software solutions and services, today announces the appointment of Tony Marshall to the position of Vice President and Managing Director for Asia Pacific.
www.agilysys.com

Jim Rowe to Lead Sales and Marketing for Property Systems Across Jonas Hospitality Brands
Jonas Hospitality is excited to announce the promotion of Jim Rowe to SVP Sales & Marketing, Property Systems in a move that will bring all brands closer together under the Jonas Hospitality Brand.
jonashospitality.com

Joshua Bergen Named CEO of CyberTek

CyberTek MSSP, an award-winning Managed Security Service Provider, has announced that it has appointed Joshua Bergen as Chief Executive Officer. As CEO, Bergen will spearhead the company’s mission to partner with businesses to overcome infinite challenges through technology and expertise. www.VENZAgroup.com

VENZA Hires Mark Peterson as Sales Executive to Lead Efforts in Latin America

VENZA, a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions for the hospitality industry, today announced that it has hired Mark Peterson as Vice President of Sales, Latin America. In this role, he will be responsible for leading sales efforts in Latin America, Mexico, and the Caribbean and accelerating the company’s ongoing expansion across global markets. www.VENZAgroup.com

VENZA Expands its Security Team; Extends Leadership in Compliance, PCI DSS, and Cybersecurity

In a strategic move to bolster its position as a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions in the hospitality industry, VENZA has announced the expansion of its Security Team with the addition of three new hires: Edgar Ayala and Nathan Brown as Security Analysts, and Elizabeth Parente as a Vulnerability Scanning Engineer. www.VENZAgroup.com

Jonas Hospitality Promotes Jake Lewis to President of Property Systems

Jonas Hospitality is excited to announce the promotion of Jake Lewis to President of Property Systems, to further the technical innovation and collaboration happening across the portfolio of Jonas Hospitality companies. Grouping the operations of several Jonas Hospitality companies under one leader will drive a cohesive vision for how our teams and technology collaborate to effectively maximize growth and potential of each company. jonashospitality.com

GUEST MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS

Strawberry Migrates Their 100th Hotel Onto Mews Hospitality Cloud

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud that was recently named the World’s Best PMS Provider, has reached a significant milestone in the successful rollout of its Property Management System (PMS) across all Strawberry Hotels. www.mews.com

Mews Surpasses 1,000 Marketplace Integrations with Hospitality’s Biggest App Store

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud, hits another significant milestone as it continues to expand the world’s largest network of integrated hospitality apps. www.mews.com

Noble House Hotels & Resorts Moves Property Management to the Cloud with Infor

Infor, an industry cloud company, announced that Noble House Hotels & Resorts, a curated collection of award-winning boutique hotels, luxury resorts, and unforgettable adventures, has selected Infor Hospitality Management Solution (HMS) for its property management system (PMS) of record.

www.infor.com

REVENUE MANAGEMENT & ANALYTICS

IDeaS Launches Resorts Revenue Council, Convening Commercial Leaders from Resorts and All-Inclusive Properties across the Globe

IDeaS, the world’s leading provider of revenue management software and services, announced today the launch of the IDeaS’ Resorts Revenue Council, a dynamic in-person and virtual community where industry leaders, creative thinkers, and innovators from the resort and all-inclusive space will meet regularly to discuss key industry challenges and catalyze the evolution of a holistic approach to commercial management for resorts. ideas.com

BWH Hotels Scandinavia’s Revenue Center Selects FLYR for Hospitality as Preferred Revenue Management System

With FLYR’s AI-driven revenue management system, BWH Hotels Scandinavia’s Revenue Center will be able to unlock next-level decision intelligence and automation for 56 properties – delivering maximum revenue potential and operational efficiency.

flyr.com

GUEST FACING TECHNOLOGY

PPDS To Reveal Major Expansion Plans at ISE 2024, With New Products, New Markets and Exciting New Partnerships Kicking Things Off in Barcelona

PPDS is delighted to confirm its participation at ISE 2024 (30 Jan - 2 Feb), with an exciting array of new performance and experience enhancing products and major partnership announcements, including official entry into a multi-billion-euro market, plus another series of world first displays kicking things off in Barcelona.
www.ppds.com

Cloud5 Communications Partners with PureHD to Provide Hotels New Guestroom Entertainment Option

Cloud5 Communications, a leading provider of IT solutions and services for more than 5,000 hotels across the Americas, today announced its partnership with PureHD, a leading provider of digital, high-definition, interactive streaming solutions for the hospitality industry. Through this partnership, Cloud5 will now offer in-room entertainment, on-demand streaming, and free-to-guest television in addition to its award-winning HSIA and telecommunications solutions.
www.cloud5.com     www.purehd.com

Nomadix Expands Hotel TV Casting with New Version of Google Chromecast

Nomadix Inc​., bringing connected experiences to life, today announced the expansion of its TV Casting solution. The hospitality industry has been facing two major TV Casting challenges: the end of sale for Chromecast v3 and the Netflix account-sharing policy changes. Nomadix solved both with its latest release, making it simple for guests to enjoy their own shows, including Netflix, on its hospitality-focused Nomadix Casting platform.
nomadix.com

New Mews Kiosk Cuts Check-In Time by a Third and Generates Thousands in Extra Hotel Revenue

Mews, an industry-leading hospitality cloud, has unveiled its next-generation kiosk solution for hotels. The Kiosk can be used for check-in and check-out, by guests or by staff.
mews.com

MARKETING

Continuing to grow: dailypoint™ opens office in DubaiContinued International Expansion of a New Dubai Office

dailypoint, a leading Data Management and CRM platform for sophisticated individual hotels and hotel groups, proudly announces its continued international expansion with the opening of a new office in Dubai.
www.dailypoint.com

SALES & CATERING

Knowland Announces Certification Program to Advance Sales Proficiency and Increase Hotel ROI

Knowland, the world’s leading provider of data-as-a-service insights on meetings and events for hospitality, announced today the Knowland Certification Program. The program includes three certification credentials to help hotel sales professionals level up their skill sets, elevate their professional profile, and demonstrate proficiency with management. www.knowland.com

Clairvoyix Announces a Room Block Email Confirmation System and Room Block Customer Service Tool for OPERA Cloud.

The latest OPERA Cloud-enabled solution from Clairvoyix allows properties who book rooms and events without meeting space the ability to offer comprehensive email confirmations without the need for a sales and catering system. www.clairvoyix.com

BACK OFFICE

Pay Integration for CoreSelectTM Live, M3 and AvidXchange Partnership Revolutionizes Hotel Accounting with Fully Automated Financial Management Solution

M3 Accounting Solutions, Inc. (“M3”), one of North America’s top providers of accounting software and services, and AvidXchange, a leading provider of accounts payable (AP) automation software and payment solutions for middle market businesses and their suppliers, announced a partnership to provide hotels a fully automated financial management solution. www.m3as.com

COMMUNICATIONS & INFRASTRUCTURE

Spark by Hilton Leverages Think Simplicity at Germantown, DC Location

Think Simplicity, a cloud communication technology provider of all-inclusive voice and chat solutions for the hospitality industry, announced today Spark by Hilton™ will utilize the company’s communication platform at its Germantown Washington DC North location. www.thinksimplicity.com

PAYMENT PROCESSING

Sertifi Partners with Leading Travel and Payment Companies to Ensure Frictionless Arrivals for Business Travelers

Sertifi, developers of a digital and secure credit card authorization solution used by over 15,000 customers, is excited to celebrate 12M+ authorizations received via the platform since launching its authorization solution in 2018. corp.sertify.com

SECURITY

Shephard's Beach Resort Maximizes Guest and Property Security with Surveillance Camera Deployment by Hotel Internet Services

Hotel Internet Services (HIS), a full-service provider of internet services and solutions for the hospitality industry, has announced its successful implementation of a robust network of security camera solutions at Shephard’s Beach Resort in Clearwater, Florida. www.hotelwifi.com

Dutch Language Translations Highlight Depth of VENZA’s Security Awareness Training

VENZA, a leading provider of data protection and regulatory compliance solutions for the hospitality industry, today announced that it has made its flagship introductory security awareness courses available in Dutch. This additional translation reflects the company’s continued global expansion and commitment to providing accessible training courses to all users. www.VENZAgroup.com

ARCHITECHURE & INTEGRATION

Nonius Hub Achieves Milestone: 150+ Integrations Now Available!

This milestone solidifies our position as the leading platform for seamless and efficient hotel operations and reflects our commitment to delivering an unparalleled suite of integration solutions. www.noniussolutions.com

HOSPITALITY EVENTS & ASSOCIATION NEWS

HSMAI Announces 2023 Top 25 Extraordinary Minds

The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) announces the Top 25 Extraordinary Minds awardees to be presented in conjunction with the HSMAI Adrian Awards Celebration on February 13, 2024, at the New York Marriott Marquis. adrianawards.hsmai.org

HFTP Announces BAE Ventures as Exclusive Sponsor of Entrepreneur 20X Europe 2024
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) is pleased to announce BAE Ventures as the sponsor of Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) Europe. The successful pitch competition featuring hospitality technology start-ups will conclude the first day of HFTP’s inaugural Digital Horizons 360 (DH360) symposium on Tuesday, 20 February 2024. www.hftp.org

AHLA Expands Government Affairs Team with New Tax Policy VP

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) today announced the hiring of Jessica Brady as vice president of federal affairs for tax policy. www.ahla.com

FutureLog Takes Center Stage as Gold Sponsor at the 21st Annual HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence in Australia, New Zealand, and the South Pacific

FutureLog, a leading innovator in hospitality technology solutions, proudly announced its Gold sponsorship of the prestigious 21st Annual HM Awards for Hotel and Accommodation Excellence. The Hotel Management magazine event was held on Friday, November 24, 2023, at The Star Event Centre Sydney. www.futurelog.com

UrVenue Sponsors ILHA and INSPIRE Luxury Hospitality Conference

The International Luxury Hotel Association (ILHA) is thrilled to announce UrVenue as a two-year sponsor of the association and its upcoming INSPIRE Luxury Hospitality Conference. urvenue.com

MARKETING REPORTS

Amadeus Data Reveals Los Cabos, Mexico to Be Top Hotel Destination for Christmas and New Year's Travel

As we head towards the festive season, hoteliers are preparing for demand as people look to travel over Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Global technology provider Amadeus, with its unique forward-looking business intelligence data, is seeing a peak in demand over the Christmas and New Year period across major markets around the world. www.amadeus.com/hospitality

Sojern Reveals First of Its Kind 'State of Destination Marketing 2024 Report'

Produced through a partnership between Sojern and Digital Tourism Think Tank (DTTT), and supported by Brand USA, Destination Canada and the European Travel Commission, the report sheds light on the latest industry trends and challenges. www.sojern.com

And now for you-know-what...

Nothing beats a great holiday commercial that is more about the message than the product. One of our favorites ever made!

A Holiday to Remember

Discover Return On Experience

Three ecosystems — Hospitality & Leisure, Food & Beverage, and Inventory & Procurement — operate independently and together depending on your needs.

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Let's Get Digital

7 Questions to Ask Before You Invest in a Hotel Mobile App

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Let's Get Digital

With high rates of mobile device users and high expectations to digitally connect, what should your hotel app do? Besides providing a great digital guest experience, your hotel mobile app should be a reflection of your property and should give your guest the digital access they need to experience your property to the fullest.

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Return on Experience solutions delight guests, retain staff & grow margins

Agilysys’ Cloud platform, solely engineered for hospitality, delivers Return On Experience (ROE) across every hospitality touchpoint. That means more repeat stays, greater spend, stronger reviews, a more empowered staff and a healthier bottom line.

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