5 Innovative Companies to Watch for at HITEC 2016
By Alan Young, President of Puzzle Partner Ltd.
With just under 45 days until the world's largest hospitality tech show, the countdown is officially on. If you are not familiar with it, the Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference (HITEC) is a four-day event, complete with expert speakers and an incomparable list of exhibitors—all with the hopes of continually enhancing the fast-paced industry.
I'll be making the trek myself, and am already looking forward to hearing from the top minds in the hospitality tech industry, and making my way through the 300+ exhibits at the trade show. My objective is to find the most disruptive and innovative companies that I think have a fantastic future. You will not want to miss them either, so I've compiled a helpful list of several very promising ones here.
Without further ado, five companies to watch for at HITEC 2016, in no particular order:
If you're looking for a service management system for your hotel, AliceApp claims to be the most comprehensive one yet. With a suite of management tools for front of house, guest services and back of house, it appears the app creators have thought the modern hotel's needs through carefully. For the front of house, hoteliers can manage requests with an integrated calendar (complete with reminders) and create printable or email itineraries for guests. AliceApp's back of house functionality helps keep hotel staff on track with one convenient system that offers ticket management and a timer to track task completion time—data that further helps hoteliers improve their operations. Ultimately, AliceApp empowers hotels to increase team efficiency and communication, enabling hotels to deliver higher levels of service to their guests. A platform that keeps staff and guests on the same page is imperative in this day and age. Guest engagement technology is a highly competitive space right now, and only a few are having an impact. Keep a look out for this company.
Pronounced "savvy oak," Savioke is a company utilizing robotics to improve hotel services. Their focus is a robot called Relay, which, as its name hints at, relays small items to guests. Hotel staff simply load up requested items into the bot, and with the touch of a button, it's off for delivery. Relay is a timesaver for hotels and a fun service for guests. Currently, Savioke says the robots have completed over 13,000 deliveries to date across at least six big name hotels. The company believes in the power of robotics to improve lives and says they hope to expand their services to elder care facilities, hospitals, restaurants, and beyond. The Jetsons have arrived in the hotel industry, and even though robots will never completely replace the "people' aspect of hospitality, they can certainly assist in ensuring guest satisfaction.
For brands looking to promote themselves through ever-popular proximity awareness technology, Yikes might fit the bill. If you're not yet sure what proximity awareness is (or why it's valuable for brands), essentially it registers nearby devices of potential customers. Yikes utilizes this technology in a safe, secure way, to help brands build loyalty by keeping in close contact with customers. The service even allows customers to use their smartphones as keys to hotel rooms, among other conveniences. However, the company says they are more than that, boasting services like proximity awareness that tracks where guests are on the property, allowing hoteliers deliver personalized attention to guests easily and quickly. As the smartphone will continue to impact the hotel industry, I predict that it will soon be the primary device to handle most everything a guest requires while on and off property.
As is the trend, Novility is a company dedicated to data. The service collects data about hotel employees while training them with NovilityHELP, an interactive, engaging training system specifically made for the hospitality industry. It allows hoteliers to ensure their staff is trained and ready to provide high-quality services, as guest expectations continually heighten around the world. NovilityHELP was built to incorporate multiple languages, enabling employees to train in their language of choice. In a time when online reviews can make or break hotels, great service is more important than ever, and Novility is crafted with this in mind. Keeping employees engaged and well trained ultimately increases guest satisfaction, loyalty and revenue.
Created in 2013, AboveProperty is a cloud-based Central Reservation System that hopes to keep the hotelier's day-to-day operations and distribution simple. The company keeps up-to-date on the latest in travel technology to ensure their social-enabled travel software is cutting edge. The software has a myriad management capabilities, including products like Inline Revenue Management, Internet Booking Engine, Social Relationship Management, and Content Management System—and that's just the half of it. In a world of ever-increasing technological convergence, developing a next generation CRS that encompasses all the relevant guest related data and elements is no small feat. It will be interesting to see where this team gets their next group of clients.
These five companies are undoubtedly worth keeping an eye on—and the remarkable thing is, there are many more inventive companies exhibiting at this year's event. Considering that HITEC attracts the best and most diverse hospitality technology brands in the world - I am looking forward to expanding this list and discovering the next big things. Hope to see you there.
Are you looking forward to HITEC? Know of any other great companies to look out for at the conference? Please feel free to send me a note.
Ernest N. Morial Convention Center — New Orleans, LA United States
Alan E. Young is the President of Puzzle Partner Ltd. and co-founder of Next Big Thing Travel & Hospitality. Previously, Alan has held executive sales and marketing level positions with startup companies such as Newtrade Technologies, (acquired by Expedia), Hotel Booking Solutions (acquired by IBS Software) and TrustYou.More from Alan Young