Within an industry as competitive as hospitality, keeping up with, or rather, remaining ahead of trends will ultimately decide a brand’s success. Those who fail to adapt and invest in those ideas and technologies which continue to move the needle and enhance the guest experience are sure to be left behind as our industry gears up for an exciting 2020.

It is with this very mindset that we welcome the annual onset of The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC®), held in high regard as the world’s largest hospitality technology exposition and conference brand. Hosted in Dubai from November 12th to 13th, the showcase will offer solution providers with unique access to the Middle East’s hospitality market currently worth over USD 75 billion, attracting hospitality leaders from around the globe. Attendees gain access to valuable education and panels lead by top hospitality experts while witnessing the latest and greatest in hospitality technology on the showroom floor.

Each year the event gets bigger and better, with the 2019 edition offering over 100 exhibitors and sponsors, 2,000 hospitality professionals, and 6,000 business meetings. HITEC has also assembled an impressive advisory panel, with 200 years of combined industry experience to address the Middle East’s unique challenges and needs.

So what can attendees expect from HITEC Dubai 2019?  Let’s look at the leading trends impacting the industry to find out:

The Mobile Movement Continues

IDS Next will be at HITEC Dubai again this year to showcase the latest advancements in mobile enterprise PMS with FX1 now available in Arabic. FX1 is a platform designed to keep “the guest” in the center of its universe, going above the traditional PMS. FX 1 platform combines PMS, POS, incident management, guest engagement, promotions, upsell, feedback, pre-check-in, self-check-in, in-room solutions for services, room dining, in-room check-out, multi-property chain CRS, and financials that include AP, AR, GL, all into one mobile-first system. IDS is also releasing new modules this year that include guest engagement (FX GeM), sales force management (FX Sales & Marketing), and hotel analytics on the go (FX1 Pulze).

The hospitality experience has gone digital, and that shift is only gaining momentum. Studies reveal that in 2020, hotels will be spending more time, money, and effort on building brand recall and loyalty to boost direct bookings, an initiative commonly supported by mobile technology. Beyond the continued demand for user-friendly native apps, self-service kiosks, and keyless room entry, HITEC attendees will be focused on exploring what’s new in mobile technology.

From advanced chatbots to IoT and smart rooms, the evolution of mobile technology is a priority for both guests and hotels.

Guest Experience

Increasingly, the experience is everything. To thrive, hotels must give guests a simple yet customized experience-with a human touch. It’s a tricky balance that few have achieved so far.

Attendees at HITEC Dubai should seek out solutions that enable interactions with guests that are convenient, frictionless, personalized, and responsive at every touchpoint on the property.

A good example is a simple QR code-based web link that is sent to guests at multiple touchpoints and means guests don’t have to download an app. Offering guests an easy way to provide feedback on the go helps to resolve issues before they become negative reviews. And when it comes to operations, empowering staff with the most advanced technology to communicate within all departments and track incidents is critical.

Another desire for the modern guest is seamless check in and check out. Can the guest pre check in and select the room like airline seats. Can they check out at the comfort or their rooms and walk away?

As the guest experience continues to be a key competitive differentiator, hoteliers are aiming to deliver data-driven, personalized marketing. The intelligent use of guest data from all touchpoints using a centralized system allows for better insights, operations, and performance analysis to ensure a hotel is on track for success.  This year’s conference will include knowledge sharing and best practices for creating a memorable guest experience to keep guests coming back.

Focus on the Millennials

Online and mobile channels are important to millennials, providing the information and insights they need to find the best products and services. They turn to their handheld devices to meet all their needs, and they prefer the ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) approach and self-service solutions for booking, check-in/out, ordering room service, making requests, housekeeping, and using their mobile device as a handheld wallet.

The millennial traveler also looks for instant deals rather than traditional loyalty systems, with 57% willing to share their data in exchange for personalized offers. Platforms which effectively aggregate and leverage big data in an insightful manner allow hoteliers to offer a more informed, personalized guest experience. Working within industry-wide data regulations, hoteliers have the opportunity to unlock ‘guest profiles’ that provide them with a clear understanding of who each guest is, and what their expectations are during their stay.

We can’t forget about the millennial employees. Technology that is user-friendly and mobile, enhanced with automation, real-time notifications, closed feedback systems, and KPI tracking motivates these next-gen employees to perform better.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become something of an industry buzzword over the last few years, and the technology certainly isn’t going anywhere. As hotels experiment with AI to identify the sweet spot between technology and in-person interactions, vendors continue to evolve their offering.

Whether this is through fingerprint and face recognition to place orders, access their devices, or voice detection to converse with chatbots, AI is opening a whole new world of possibilities for businesses to build a more interactive, personalized guest experience. AI can even predict the likelihood of future behaviors with high accuracy and uncover many more upsell and revenue opportunities.

With a promise to transform service by making it automated, fast and hassle-free, the continued exploration of AI technology is positioned as an integral discussion point moving into 2020.

Immersive Technology

Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) have also found their way into the industry buzzword lexicon, as vendors and hoteliers alike entertain the possibility of a more immersive hospitality experience. VR allows guests to experience a curated blend of the digital and physical world, which can be leveraged both pre-stay (virtual tours) and on-property, while AR can enhance the in-room or on-property experience in other unique ways. In fact, according to Adobe Digital Insights, “At least eight of the largest hotels have tested some kind of VR experience.”

With HITEC Dubai attracting so many cutting-edge companies from around the globe, attendees can expect to see some of the latest advances in both VR and AR technology.

As a hotelier, keeping your finger on the pulse of what is new and noteworthy in the realm of hospitality technology is paramount. HITEC Dubai represents an unparalleled opportunity to explore new technology, network with like-minded professionals, and get a glimpse into the future of hospitality.

I look forward to seeing you there!

About Binu Mathews

Binu is a seasoned professional with more than two decades of unequaled proficiency in varied industries including manufacturing, hospitality and information technology. As the CEO, Binu aims to drive IDS Next towards achieving the ultimate goal – to become the global leader and most preferred hospitality technology vendor globally. His personal goal is to be a change agent for organizations that are ready for the next level of growth.

Binu firmly believes in the power of collective effort and collaborative leadership. He always empowers his team and prompts his colleagues to bring in new ideas to the workplace. His forte has been with start-ups and turnarounds in technology companies in the emerging markets. He has also played leadership roles in managing operations in the Middle East and parts of Asia Pacific for one of the world’s largest hospitality technology companies for several years.

He can be contacted at binu@idsnext.com.

About IDS Next

IDS Next is a globally leading Hotel Technology Solutions provider with decades of unmatched domain expertise. Being pioneers in Hotel ERP architecture, our forte lies in providing unparalleled technology solutions for hospitality properties across categories. With unrivalled domain expertise, our USP lies in creating solutions that help hotels increase revenues, optimize costs and above all provide enhanced guest experience.

We are a dynamic company, which fully understands emerging markets, and its high growth needs. We provide efficient solutions across categories such as large independent hotels, chain hotels, boutique or resort hotels and even small budget hotels. Our offerings include integrated hotel management software, restaurant management software, mobile apps and mobile analytic solutions etc.

Armed with industry leading technology and overwhelming TCO, we command large market share in the markets we operate and growing at an enviable speed. Our software and technology solutions have also earned the trust of over 5000 hotels in 40 countries spread across South Asia, South-East Asia, Africa, Middle East, Sri Lanka & Maldives and Oceania. A truly dedicated 24/7-support centre ensures 98% retention of customers and unmatched customer satisfaction.