As in other sectors of the economy, technology has permeated all aspects of the hotel trade and has become a crucial determinant of competitiveness in the industry. Indeed, technology is driving change in everything from customer service and loyalty schemes to revenue management and building techniques. In recognition of technology’s growing importance, this year’s edition of IHIF, to be held in Berlin from 5-7 March, will include a special ‘conference within a conference‘. It’s been dubbed ‘Hotel Tech Hub‘, and will offer a full programme that will run in parallel to the main conference proceedings.

Over 20 expert speakers

Hotel Tech Hub is designed to be an immersive space where hotel owners, operators and their partners can learn about the latest technology trends and how to harness them to increase asset values, improve customer engagement and gain competitive advantage. Over 20 expert speakers will present, debate and live demo the latest technology innovations during the three-day event.

According to Rom Hendler, founder and managing partner at InnoVel, an Israeli technology consultancy and a supporter of the IHIF Hotel Tech Hub, “The travel industry in general and the hotel industry, in particular, are in a dire need of innovation and new technology solutions to stay current, efficient and attractive. Many of the technology innovations are already in existence in other industries, but fail to transfer to hospitality businesses. One of the main reasons for this is that the decision makers are often leaving critical decisions around technology to their IT leaders and those in many cases are not interested in the “additional work and risks” that come with it. The uniqueness of the IHIF Hotel Tech Hub is that it is exposing the top leaders of the industry to those types of solutions. It is one of the first opportunities where small start-ups or technology providers can meet the owners, the management companies, the brands and even the private equities, all looking for ways to make their businesses more profitable.”

‘Decoding Hotel Technology Trends’

This roundtable discussion, to be held on Tuesday 6 March at noon, will evaluate key hotel tech trends, such as robotics, IoT (Internet of Things), virtual front desk, etc., and discuss whether they are viable investment options. Panellists and the audience will then vote on each technology to decide whether they’re worth investing in or not. Panellists will include Julie Fawcett, managing director, Qbic Hotels, an innovative London-based startup; Marloes Knippenberg, CEO of International Hospitality Development, Kerten Capital, a private equity and venture capital firm; Martin Stegner, chief information officer, Novum Hospitality, a fast-growing medium-sized German chain; and Hubert Viriot, CEO, YOTEL, a capsule hotel concept.

All About Data

Big data has been a hot topic in recent years. Later on Tuesday, a session “All About Data” will examine managing data to deliver better services safely and cost-effectively through:

  • Collecting & tracking consumer data: methods, best uses and regulatory requirements;
  • Putting in place the right revenue management strategy for a hotel; and
  • Promoting operational efficiency through effective data management.

Rom Hendler of InnoVel will discuss these topics with Klaus Kohlmayr, ‘chief evangelist’ at ‎IDeaS Revenue Solutions, a revenue management consultancy, Michael Levie, founder and chief operations officer at citizenM, the innovative Amsterdam chain, along with Pieter van Tilburg, founder and CEO, ‎CityHub, a new hostel concept, also from Amsterdam.

And finally, no tech conference could be complete without some discussion about cybersecurity, which will be led by Peter Erceg, senior vice president global cyber & technology at Lockton, an insurance brokerage and risk management concern.

Macy Marvel is a freelance analyst at Mintel focused on the global hospitality sector. Also a consultant at Opus Hospitality in Geneva and an advisor to Lausanne Hospitality Consulting – a division of Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne, Macy is a frequent presenter at international hospitality and tourism industry conferences.