HITEC 2018: Hospitality forges new paths with personalization and open platforms

Ahmed (Joe) Youssef

EVP, Corporate Development & Marketing, Hospitality, Amadeus

This content is only available in this language.

What I love about my job is that I think our work at Amadeus is relatable. When I explain to people that we develop technology to help hotels, airlines, airports and travel agencies of all types and sizes to create useful and memorable customer experiences, they get it.

This week, our Hospitality team exhibited at HITEC 2018 – the premier industry event in hospitality technology. Participating companies ranged from behemoths like AT&T to a host of startups like Reply.ai, which develops conversationally acute chatbots and was the winner of this year’s entrepreneur competition, E20X. The diversity of products and offerings at HITEC this year illustrated the vast amount of technology decisions hoteliers have adopted in this constantly evolving industry to uniquely service their guests. Personalization was perhaps the most prevalent topic in the keynote and education sessions and across the show floor – everyone wants to know how to get closer to consumers to provide a relevant, differentiated experience. What was evident is that there are endless paths, some perhaps more cost-effective and scalable than others, to the same holy grail of a distinguishable personal experience.

Just imagine the power of being able to securely create digital profiles, with customer permission, that are built by learning our behavior and preferences through our shopping habits (my weekly trip to Whole Foods might suggest I’m willing to pay a little more for services that support my well-being); the types of restaurants we enjoy (so hoteliers will know what room service items to recommend to me upon my arrival); whether we request extra pillows during every hotel stay (indicating that the extra comforts of home are a must); or our frequency of business versus personal travel in a year (I’ve had six business trips in four months – I need quality time with my family and can use loyalty points to make it happen).

With imagination and technology, the possibilities are limitless.

The fast pace of change in consumer expectations, particularly among millennials who’ve grown up in a digital world, can be addressed only with open and flexible platforms that will allow hotels to quickly adapt to change, which the 30 to 50-year-old legacy systems at many hotels today simply cannot accommodate. Open was perhaps the second most popular buzzword this week in the context of building technology platforms that allow potential partners of all sizes to easily plug and play with the goal of constantly evolving the customer experience, something that we demonstrate to the industry with over 200 partner integrations.

As one panelist at the Millennials Reshaping the Industry education session suggested, we can no longer continue on the path we’re on simply because this is the way we’ve always done it.

I couldn’t agree more. We’re all hungry for change. Our opportunity is in determining what level of disruption our industry is ready for, and what we need to do to stay ahead of the pace of change.