By Alan E. Young
Today’s world is constantly changing, and the travel and hotel industry is facing many technological challenges and intense competition. When competition is at such a fever pace, innovation is everything. Across various platforms and specialties, we are seeing the enthusiastic embrace of ambitious thought leaders, entrepreneurs and start-ups who are fearlessly carving out their vision of the future.
In the past, there were yearly events that enabled travel and hotel technology providers to showcase their current solutions to prospective buyers. Now, due to the rapid change of technology and its impact on the industry, annual conferences and events have included innovation award segments within their regular program that are dedicated to the change-makers that are transforming the technology used by hoteliers. Within these competitions and events, industry professionals are granted the opportunity to display their latest innovations to panels of experts, earning exposure and praise across the hospitality landscape.
This past year has been an eventful one for our industry, with no shortage of educational events, thought leadership panels and conferences to showcase the technology which will enhance hoteliers’ internal processes and deliver a better guest experience. We’ve rounded up some of the highlights to give you an idea of what is to come and which travel and hotel start-ups to keep an eye on.
1. Phocuswright 2017 Innovators
For nearly 25 years, the Phocuswright Conference has invited qualified attendees to 3 different competition stages (Launch, Summit and Battleground) to showcase some of the most exciting new technology our industry has to offer. The winner of the Travel Innovation – Startup Category takes home a check for $100,000 USD.
conichi Award: Runner-Up for Travel Innovation – Startup Category Website: https://www.conichi.com/
By digitalizing tedious hotel procedures like check-in/check-out, digital door opening and invoicing, conichi is taking an impersonal standard, utilizing it in a smart way to create a new standard in hospitality. Travelers can use an express check-in and can check out via mobile without queueing at departure. Payments are safely made through the app to ultimately save the hotelier and guest valuable time.
2. HITEC Toronto
HITEC is the world's largest hospitality technology show, bringing the brightest minds and new tech to one place. During the 2017 show in Toronto, 13 pitchers were chosen depending on the field of applicants. From this selected group, one person from each startup pitched for four minutes to a packed session room and a panel of judges.
Each startup competed for the grand prize, or E20X Judge’s Award winner, which took home $5,000 USD and guaranteed spots on HITEC show floors for the following 12 months.
Stay Wanderful Award: E20X Judge’s Award Website: https://staywanderful.com/
Stay Wanderful brings you instant rewards you actually want. No more waiting to accumulate points – just book on one of their hotel partner's websites and get real rewards you can use right away such as: exclusive retail discounts, free flight credits, free dining credits and free transportation credits.
Arrivedo Award: People’s Start-Up Award Website: https://arrivedo.com/
Arrivedo offers hotels globally an online platform to organize their knowledge via Neighborhood Guides. A Neighborhood Guide is a group of articles consisting of recommendations, maps, routes, essential tips and more relevant information that hosts can share with travelers. Each Neighborhood Guide created online is in collaboration with one of their certified Arrivedo travel writers. This content helps guests to learn about local activities and what to do in the neighborhood around the hotel during the booking process.
3. HEDNA Innov8
HEDNA's Innov8 session focuses on eight new products, services and businesses in the marketplace that are positively shaping the hospitality industry and the way we conduct business. This is an interactive forum, created to share the innovations made by leading professionals in eight minute, engaging presentations. At this year’s HEDNA Austin Distribution Conference, Hopper took home the top Innov8 prize.
Hopper Award: Innov8 Winner Website: http://www.hopper.com/
The Hopper app for Android and iOS provides insightful, data-driven research to help travelers make better decisions about where to go and when to fly and buy. The app has now expanded its price prediction service to hotels, saving users $34 to $90 per night, on average, when booking a hotel room through its service.
4. HT-NEXT Awards
HT-NEXT has quickly become the must-attend educational and networking experience for hospitality technology professionals and solution providers. The program combines two leading industry events each year — Hospitality Technology’s Hotel Technology Forum and HTNG’s North American Conference.
Beekeeper Award: The 2018 TechOvation Award presented by HTNG (Hospitality Technology Next Generation) Website: https://www.beekeeper.io/en
Beekeeper has created a workplace app that digitizes hospitality workers who don't sit behind a traditional desk and don't have access to work email. By connecting operational systems and communication channels within one secure, intuitive platform, Beekeeper is helping hoteliers exchange information, share property updates, and communicate best practices within or across departments in 30 languages.
With so many impressive contributions competing for these coveted awards, there is no doubt that the hospitality industry has some incredible, innovative technology in-store for 2018 and beyond. Don’t forget to keep an eye on all off the innovators that pitch during these amazing events as one never knows where the next great idea will be born.