By: Mike Coletta, Managing Director at Travel Startups Incubator
I attended the HTNG (Hotel Technology Next Generation) conference in Amelia Island, Florida on March 1-3, 2016 participating as a judge at the TechOvation Awards along with 16 other judges from travel and hospitality.
I was impressed with the quality of the entries overall, giving top scores to INTEREL WMS (Water Management System) who won the award, and Savioke Relay who finished as a runner-up. While my 3rd choice was RoamingAround, I was not surprised that the 3rd official runner-up was Travel Tripper (more on that below).
INTEREL won the awards for the 2nd year in a row, having won for their “connectBsmart” beacon solution in 2015. The INTEREL Water Management System is the world’s first TCP-IP based hospitality guestroom water management solution. It’s ability to save water, prevent guests from getting burned, and IoT smart connectivity won me over as well as the other judges. A 300 room hotel can save 1.1 million gallons of water/year with this system and that’s a win-win for hotels as well as the environment.
Savioke Relay is the first autonomous robot for hotels. The robot has completed 15,000 deliveries of amenities to guest rooms in under 5 minutes, leaving staff free to interact with guests. At Travel Startups Incubator we see automation and robotics playing a big part in hospitality technology in the near future and it was wonderful to see this robot working extremely well.
Travel Tripper helps hotels secure direct bookings by displaying a price matching widget directly on the hotel’s booking engine. When a guest checks for rates availability, the widget instantly compares the hotel’s current rate with several OTAs and can make sure the hotel provides the best price in real time, tapping into the growing desire and efforts of hotels to fend off pressure from increasingly-powerful OTAs.
I liked RoamingAround for their approach to pinpointing location using beacons in a three-dimensional space using trilateration rather than proximity. He who has the most accurate beacons just might win!
A couple of other interesting startups who presented included ALICE, which connects a hotel’s operations, service and communications platforms together into a single platform (and recently landed $9m in funding led by Expedia), and Glowing.io, a multi-channel messaging app that enables hotels to communicate with guests through their preferred platform, be that SMS, Facebook, WeChat, WhatsApp etc.
Most of the other presenters were not startups but mature companies launching new products, many of which focused around guest/staff communication and operations/revenue optimization.
I had a very productive trip to sunny Florida and hope to attend HTNG again next year. A special thanks to HTNG for your hospitality and the many introductions you made for Travel Startups Incubator.