In spite of ‘inherent inertia’ in the travel industry, the hotel’s front desk emerges as dominant theme at EyeforTravel’s innovation and startup awards
The market for innovative solutions in the travel vertical is growing rapidly. In fact, EyeforTravel’s latest Mobile in Hospitality Report 2014 points to mobile check in solutions as one important technological innovation that is currently a major focus for the hospitality industry. So from the ten semi-finalists at the recent EyeforTravel Innovation & Startup Awards, announced in New York last week, this year’s winner is a guest-facing mobile room key solution from Ve-Go. The runner up, WalkSource, is an online marketplace for trading excess hotel demand, which provides three-way benefits.
Speaking of the win, Derek Beckmann, Ve-Go’s VP of Customer Success said the group’s affordable mobile check in, room selection, roomkey and check out application helps forward thinking hotels meet the needs of their guests both now and into the future. While many hotels around the world have already announced plans for mobile check in, room selection, and room key applications, EyeforTravel’s research also shows that there is still a degree of reticence among the executives to deploy them unless their value can be proven.
So there is still some work to do but the market exists and Ve-Go hopes that within five years its application will be installed throughout North America. He’d also like to see successful partnerships formed with some of the world’s most prestigious and forward thinking hoteliers that clearly want to improve guest satisfaction and increase operational efficiencies.
Some of the world’s most prestigious and forward thinking hoteliers…clearly want to improve guest satisfaction and increase operational efficiencies
Derek Beckmann, VP of Customer Success, Ve-Go
To date, Ve-Go is implementing the technology with the Menin Hospitality group, but looks forward to providing more partners around the world with its mobile solution.
On the subject of improving operational efficiencies, runner up WalkSource can help hotels add two to seven per cent to the bottom line each day. “The bottom line for everybody is revenue and we can make hotels more money,” says Maksim Izmaylov WalkSource cofounder and CTO. He adds that, “we can also help hotels who play aggressively and overbook to play more confidently”.
In addition, WalkSource helps hotels that have rooms at the end of the day to sell those that are overbooked. “Both types of hotels benefit from that but we also help guests who are being relocated. The result is they don't have to wait for hours anymore,” he says. This, he argues, points to a triple win because if the hotel uses WalkSource they can also find the room for a guest in minutes.
The bottom line for everybody is revenue and we can make hotels more money
Maksim Izmaylov, cofounder and CTO, WalkSource
While innovation is undoubtedly flourishing, for tech startups in the travel space there are challenges. “Some of the biggest challenges facing startups today within the travel vertical are market validation and partnering with the right technology providers who have affordable easy to use technology as well as the team to execute,” says Beckman. For Izmaylov, addressing the inherent inertia in the travel industry is one big challenge. “The travel industry lags behind by about five years and it's hard to deal with old systems, old browsers and lack of initiative for using new technologies,” he says.
Backing up this point, Tim Hentschel, CEO & Co-founder of HotelPlanner, who chaired the awards, had this to say: “This year’s winner and runner up provide much needed advances to the hotel’s front desk technology, which is an area of the hotel and guest’s experience that has not seen much improvement during the technology revolution. I expect these innovative companies will see much success in the next few years.”
Judging took place last week in New York by Richard Wells, Managing Director, Insight Venture Partners, Edmond Mesrobian, CTO Expedia, Susan Black, Founding Partner, Black & Wright and Matt Zito, Founder, Travel Startups.