Industry Update
Opinion Article 3 March 2020

Coronavirus Won’t Stop Hotel Technology

By James Harrison, Hospitality Technology Consultant at HotelTCS

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You Can Cancel Our Shows, You Can Ban Our Travel, But You Can Never Take Our Conference

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As I sit here on March 1st 2020, writing this article, we are in the middle of a global pandemic.

If you're reading this shortly after I issued it, you'll know that pandemic is the Coronavirus. If you've found this in an archive somewhere, years down the line, you either have much more insight than me at the time of writing or have completely forgotten about this event.

For the sake of humanity, let's hope it's the latter.

As we are in the grip of this pandemic, I felt it would be remiss of me not to talk about it.

Over the last 1 to 2 weeks the Coronavirus has had a wide-reaching effect. While the direct impact of the virus itself is still small (As of 01/03/2020), the indirect effect has been huge. There is much noise in the media about statistics showing risks, actions we should be taking, and the day by day casualties. Some I agree with, some I don't.

One interesting fact I discussed recently with Simone Puorto of Travel Singularity is this:

As of the End of February 2020, you are 2,000 times more likely to die of being hit by lightning than from the Coronavirus.

Make your own mind up as to how that makes you feel.

I'm not here to talk about any of those direct impacts, but you knew that, right? My focus, of course, will be on the indirect impacts, those around my favourite subject of hotel technology and travel technology.

Corona Virus Is Virtually A Reality

In the last week, we have seen some stock markets fall by up to 12%. We've seen people self-isolating and companies banning travel. Hotel bookings are down, with some hotels having the average daily rate reduced 5 fold! The thing that got me thinking though was the cancellation of conferences.

It was only a few weeks ago, while the Integrated Systems Europe 2020 event went ahead, World Mobile Conference was cancelled. Rumours began to circulate about other events, and whether they would go ahead.

Then as of the 28th of February, two hammer blows. ITB, the biggest travel technology show in Europe was cancelled. Next, the Hospitality Finance and Technology Professionals Hi-Tec Europe event was postponed until further notice. Two events that I was very much looking forward to attending.

Corona Virus Makes Hotel Technology Virtual

Receiving the news about the cancellation got me thinking. We now have a huge number of people who are not attending the events. People who had information to share, people eager to learn. Panels and debates that would no longer go ahead. Meetings, networking events, informal discussions, all lost. There had to be a better way, surely?

In the 2 days since these unprecedented announcements, LinkedIn has been buzzing with alternatives. You see the thing is, even though people can't attend as these shows are cancelled, they do want to "attend" the show, by other methods.

What this outbreak has shown me, is that there is a desire for people to attend shows virtually.

Hotel Technology Overcomes Corona Virus

Ok, maybe the heading above is a sweeping statement, as Hotel technology is unlikely to solve the outbreak. As I said though, we are talking about the indirect impact. The correct hotel technology can help you overcome some of the things impacted by Coronavirus.

Video conferencing has been with us for a long time, but now the opportunity is much more. The traditional idea of clunky dial-in numbers and formal meetings is not what is required here. That doesn't give hotel guests or conference attendees the right experience.

No, I see 2 strong opportunities.

Hotel Technology Meets Virtual Reality

The first option is more technically advanced but is certainly the opportunity for an immersive experience. Virtual reality.

Before you get visions of people in headsets, I should clarify. We are actually talking about Augmented and Extended Reality. Solutions like those provided by UgoVirtual. Using a mix of online portals, virtual reality and conferencing tools, you can actually be there.

I'm not going in-depth on VR/AR/XR right now, this will be for a later post on our blog. Just something for you to think about. I think the #1 opportunity, is below.

Hotel Technology Is Live And Unfiltered

Since the launch of #LinkedInLive 1 year ago, there has been a huge growth in professional live streaming. By making it invite-only, LinkedIn has limited the number of people who can do this. Almost as if it was designed as a service for those chosen, to be able to offer.

While live streaming has been present for years on both Youtube and Facebook, for professionals the audience was limited. The reach didn't exist. With LinkedIn though, professionals have an audience already. With a number of Live streams popping up throughout the Hospitality Space, including those by Rupesh Patel and of course Glenn Haussman with No Vacancy News.

However, leading the charge in the Travel and Hotel Technology space, is FunnelTV, the brainchild of Enzo Aita. With Live streams dedicated to technology and revenue and a growing audience, now could be the time to shine.

With Live Streams already planned, bringing together panels, networks and viewers that were planned for ITB, to peoples devices, where ever they are.

So out of what is clearly not the greatest situation, Hotel Technology does prevail, somewhat.

While we must not forget the devastation that can be caused by the Corona Virus, as a technologist and consultant I do think it's great that we can use these fantastic solutions to minimise the indirect impact.

In the wake of Corona Virus, I truly hope we can move back to normality. The learning from this though shows that technology can help us, and assist us. Not forgetting the environmental positive or the travel reduction, we really could be onto something.

So the next time you have a conference, and event, a seminar, could it be virtual? Could it be Live? Could it be the solution!

Bringing The Hotel To Your Guests Through Technology

Hopefully, the points above give you some thoughts on how your guests can get to your hotel, when they can't actually get to your hotel! Maybe a Live Stream is for you? Or are you thinking about Virtual Reality?

One of many favourite subjects of mine, and one I am very interested in. It's certainly not something hotels have been thinking about until now. Soon on our blog, we will be discussing how you can use VR/AR/XR in your hotel.

Also, if you love IoT, we've looked at this not once, but twice before! Read, enjoy, comment and share!

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