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The underappreciated city of Minneapolis served as host for the 2019 edition of HITEC (produced by HFTP) which wrapped up its most recent four-day run on June 20, 2019. In the days and weeks leading up to the event, meeting solicitations and party invites filled my inbox at a growth rate any VC or entrepreneur would envy. As a first-timer to this international hospitality technology behemoth, it became apparent that HITEC actually begins a few weeks prior to when that first request or invitation lands in your over-stuffed inbox.

Time is limited. Once it’s gone, you can’t gain it back. Similarly, once a room goes unsold for a night, it will go unsold forever. There’s no way to recover that loss, because there’s no way to go back in time.
 
Many hotels fight this limitation by trying to sell as many rooms as possible. If all the rooms are completely booked, time no longer becomes a factor. But most don’t have the luxury of being at-capacity every single night. That’s why last-minute booking apps are growing in popularity in the industry, where hotels can make the most of each day. These apps specifically target guests who don’t plan far in advance, seeking accommodations from one week to one minute later.
 
There are several different ways your hotel can benefit from using last-minute booking apps in your business strategy.

IoT is Coming, Jon Snow…
Posted: 05/21/2019

Hospitality is prime for the coming advent of the various devices that make up the Internet of Things. Estimates show the industry now represents 17.5 million rooms worldwide and savvy guests are demanding more personalization and an overall improved guest experience along their connected travel journey and belief is that IoT can bring this to reality. 

The forces driving local search rankings are constantly changing. But recent studies suggest that in 2019, four key factors make up the local search algorithm. 
 
The most significant factor is Google My Business (GMB). If you’re not on it, get on it now.

The robotic revolution in the hospitality industry might seem to have taken a step back. This January, the famously quirky Henn-Na Hotel in Japan fired half of its 243 robot staff. The robotic workforce reportedly irritated guests and frequently broke down.



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Here Come the Robots!

08/21/2017
A robot first appeared in a motion picture in 1919, The Master Mystery. The machine was called “the Automaton,” as the term robot would not be used until 1920. Since then our imaginations have been led by humanoid machines capable of capturing our hearts (R2D2) to threatening our very destruction (Westworld, The Terminator). A common theme among these robots was an intelligence, sometimes sinister and sometimes benevolent, but always present. The movies implanted a mental image of a robot, but don’t be unduly alarmed – C3P0 is not yet on the horizon.  
 
Robots have reshaped manufacturing, technology, aerospace and online retail/warehouse supply chain structure and process. That same quantum leap is on its way to hospitality just as surely as the computer changed the front desk process late in the 20th century. Robots entering the hospitality industry will be very different from their fictional counterparts and certainly won’t possess the artificial intelligence of the sinister HAL Computer, from 2001: A Space Odyssey – at least not yet. 
 
However, the rate of technological change brings significant implications for today’s hotel executive, not only about the speed at which robotics will become an integral part of hospitality operations, but also in regard to the challenges this will present as employees – humans – navigate the adoption phase of the new technology.
 
A panel has been assembled to present and discuss this topic at the upcoming Lodging Conference in Phoenix, Ariz.: The panel, “Robots and AI: Here! Now!,” will focus on the growth of the robotics market as more and more hotels are testing and deploying robots for everything from check-in and room service to cleaning rooms, concierge and more. The audience will learn about the latest state-of-the-art advancements, and meet some robots as well. 
 
According to Ken Greger, managing director with AETHOS Consulting Group and the panel moderator, and one of the panelists, Robert Rippee, director of the hospitality innovation lab at UNLV, some of the topics that will be discussed include:
 
1. What is the current state of robotics in hospitality?
2. Robotics and human capital in hospitality: Where complementary and where divergent?
3. Will robots and artificial intelligence allow humans more time to focus on optimizing the guest experience?
4. What are some of the key advantages offered by robots and artificial intelligence?  And what areas should be avoided?
 
Let’s take a quick peek into the future: 
 
 Martin Ford in his book, Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, said, “Computers are getting dramatically better at performing specialized, routine and predictable tasks, and it seems very likely that they will soon be poised to outperform many of the people now employed to do these things.” As a hospitality tool, robotics will be adept at our specialized, routine tasks; tasks where accuracy is essential; tasks that require large amounts of data processing; and tasks that may be unsafe or dangerous to humans. Robots could redefine the entire system of processes within hotels, disrupting and changing departmental and organizational structures.  Some hotel companies are testing or have already deployed robotic solutions to housekeeping, room service, dishwashing and more.
 
One obvious advantage artificial intelligence will offer is the integration of language recognition and translation by machines into service processes. Although the current state is not perfect, language and linguistics applications are rapidly advancing. If you’d like to test the theory, just ask Siri how many languages she supports. 
 
All that said, robots are not adept at processing our human emotions nor is the technology adept at creative, unpredictable and non-routine tasks. The technology can’t be programmed to care about a guest nor possess other human emotions. So, will they work hand-in-hand on teams with humans? 
 
Robot and technology startups focused on the hospitality industry are actively designing and deploying robots in operating hotels. Leading hotel brands are beginning to test artificial intelligence coupled machines as well. 
 
Robert Rippee said, “We think the integration of robotics and AI into the hotel industry will progress rapidly. The early beta tests will provide verification of the economic benefits, cost-effective investment and free up human capital to focus on the guest experience. New jobs will be created to manage and support this technology, and staffing structures will likely change.”
 
Ken Greger adds, “The only thing to fear in this instance is failing to accept the inevitable. Come to our panel at The Lodging Conference and learn more. Embrace robotics and AI, commit to learning all you can about the current state and what else is just around the corner. Be proactive in thinking through and planning for this technology – and the appropriate human balance – so it doesn’t end up as an invasion to your business, or an advantage of your competitor.”
About The Author
The Lodging Conference




The Lodging Conference 2017 is a great venue for tech providers and experts to meet with and educate hotel owners, operators and deal makers on the latest software, automation and data solutions. With a high-powered roster of 190+ industry experts, an audience of 1,800+ and a relaxing resort atmosphere, the 23rd Annual Lodging Conference at the Arizona Biltmore from October 30 to November 2 provides the best combination of deal making, networking and relaxation. For more information or to register, please visit www.LodgingConference.com

 
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