IHTF Takeaways: The Top Emerging Hospitality Trends
With IHTF, the International Hotel Technology Forum, coming to a close, we’re recapping the biggest takeaways. From preventing data breaches to leveraging guest data to hyperpersonalize the guest experience, IHTF was jam packed with the latest industry news, updates and trends.
We sat down with three of our very own to hear their insights.
- Mirko Lalli, Travel Appeal CEO & Founder
- Hampus Ljunggren, Head of Business Development and Partnerships
- Yahya Fetchati, Strategic Advisor
The International Hotel Technology Forum is a leading event for the hospitality industry that took place in Zagreb, Croatia from May 14th – 16th. This event is comprised of pre-scheduled 1-on-1 meetings between hoteliers and technology providers, expert-led panels and round table discussions.
We asked our team what they learned and what stood out the most at IHTF.
How do you see the hospitality industry changing over the next few years?
Every day, new hospitality brands are joining the industry and changing the landscape. With consumer behaviors transforming, new types of guests are emerging and hoteliers are jumping on the opportunity to serve them. These brands are adopting new technologies and embracing innovation, not shying away from it. Over the next few years, the industry will be moving towards full integration across platforms.
Let’s talk AI. How is artificial intelligence streamlining processes for hotel managers?
Artificial intelligence was a hot topic at IHTF and for good reason. AI-driven solutions have made their home across all kinds of accommodations from independent hotels to the large chains. AI optimizes communication across departments, facilitates the response time for clients and improves the overall customer service.
Mirko, you spoke on the panel: “Revealing how integration and new AI driven technologies are key to optimizing guest relations and operations”. What were the biggest takeaways?
AI-driven technologies allow for a more efficient integration process and maximize guest personalization. Technology, from semantic analysis and machine learning to chatbots, facilitate the response time for clients and improve both the customer service and staff morale. Providing hotel staff with a seamless technology experience is just as important to them as it is for customers. If the staff is happy, they will deliver a better service, which in turn, has a positive effect on customer sentiment.
For example, the Travel Appeal Dashboard and Coach products allow for hoteliers to focus their efforts on guest-facing tasks and not the mundane jobs, which can efficiently be handled by AI technology. Chatbots are here to stay and many hoteliers are integrating them into their daily operations.
Another emerging trend is voice-activated technology, that we included in our 2019 Trends blog post. I was joined by John Flack, the Senior Director of Guest Facing Technologies at Hilton Worldwide. He perfectly summed up the current state of voice systems in the hospitality industry: “Voice is slowly being implemented, but careful approach is needed”. We’re looking forward to the future integration across hotels.
What are the biggest challenges hoteliers are facing with technology and how can they overcome them?
With innovation comes uncertainty. Managing multiple systems is a big challenge for hoteliers, especially independent accommodations (B&Bs, hostels, etc.) and smaller groups with 2-10 properties. To succeed in this environment, hoteliers will need to keep up with the speed of innovation and multiple providers.
However, hoteliers are in an ideal position because they have options. They can select the provider that best suits their needs and understands their clientele. Optimizing and personalizing the guest experience is invaluable and no one understands that better than hotel managers.
Lastly, what are the easiest methods for hoteliers to adapt future technologies?
Scheduling time to learn is invaluable. Attending conferences, webinars and training courses are great ways to stay updated with current trends. Taking 20 minutes a day to read blog posts and industry news is also a beneficial routine to get in the habit of. Lastly, when hoteliers integrate technology, 1-on-1 consultations and demos are critical. Having the technology to improve customer sentiment is wonderful, but impractical if you’re not using it to its full potential.