Hicon 2019: Technology Bridges the Gap Between Hospitality and Humans

Hicon 2019: Technology Bridges the Gap Between Hospitality and Humans


Technology is not an isolated component of hospitality, but a deeply integrated element of each aspect. By combining software and artificial intelligence and with human skills and intuition, something magical transpires.

This is a common theme in Travel Appeal's DNA, and it also emerged at Hicon, the only event entirely dedicated to hospitality and innovation. The second edition was recently held on December 5th at Talent Garden Calabiana in Milan.

The key takeaway? Big data, blockchain, artificial intelligence and mobile applications, if understood and exploited correctly, will build and foster authentic relationships between hotels and their guests.


Best Western: Technology will help us be more empathic

"A ‘smart’ hotel is comprised of people, not robots!”, reveals Giovanna Manzi, CEO of Best Western Italy. “People are the ones who make the difference and that’s why they’re the ones we have to take care of. We need to ensure that the entire staff is treated well if we want them to be creative and empathic with customers."

Technology is fundamental to bridge the gap between guests and hotels. Many hotel activities can be automated or managed by a chatbot or a computer, while other functions require a human touch.

Daniel Krisch, Senior Director at Oracle, shared the same concept in his presentation. He sites Colliers, leader in real estate services and investment management. They estimate that AI has the potential to increase hotel revenues by 10%, reduce costs by 15% and eliminate 73% of manual activities. If we remove the burden from staff by automating tasks, they'll have more time to focus on the most important job at hand: making guests happy.


Connecting generations with social networks

With TikTok’s arrival, everything changed. The Chinese social network, which has become the latest craze with youngsters around the world, publishes 20 to 60-second video clips. It’s created an impossible link between Trip.com, owner of the Ctrip portal, and Generation Z. Users are interested and engaged with services on the portal, finding routes and itineraries of past travelers, inspiring them to book a similar vacation.


Personalization: The only way to survive in 2020

No standardization, no commoditization, no homogenization.

"Personalization is the new expectation. One size doesn't fit all”, says Olaf Slater, General Manager of Sales at Sabre Hospitality, in one of the most insightful speeches at the Milan event.

For hotels to build relationships with guests and encourage guest retention, they must embrace personalization. To successfully personalize the guest experience, technology is required. Artificial intelligence, next-generation software, voice assistants and big data are the building blocks to create an unforgettable, tailor-made experience.

There are experts who criticize massive data collection and processing. However, taking data a step further, by evaluating it and uncovering insights, has invaluable potential. Understanding who your guests really are, why they selected your property and what they appreciated and criticized is the most important information to make their journey personalized, seamless and well received.

"It's time to think outside the room,'' concluded Slater. “We are no longer simple providers, but we are retailers, able as never before to provide guests with anything they could ever want and dream of.”

Mirko Lalli, Founder & CEO of Travel Appeal, cited a PhocusWire article about this very topic during Hicon's opening speech. "In mega hotels and big chains, that unique human touch becomes an expensive commodity, and a one-size-fits-all approach may end up being the prevalent trend. But here is where AI kicks in: If a hotel struggles to offer their guests a tailor-made experience, then management only needs to make its human touch more scalable.”

Stay up to date with the latest innovations in hospitality and technology and join us for Hicon 2020!