BLOCKCHAIN FOR HOSPITALITY

October 17, 2017 | 27 views

Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG) is a non-profit association with a mission to foster, through collaboration and partnership, the development of next-generation systems and solutions that will enable hoteliers and their technology vendors to do business globally in the 21st century

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We create custom study abroad programs including day, weekend, and long break trips for any group size. With over 15 years of experience in the student travel industry, our expertise ensures a seamless experience from planning through execution.

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BUSINESS TRAVEL

Age of Digital Concierge: Hotel Chatbots Are Redefining CX

Article | August 5, 2022

The travel industry is reviving. Tourist spots across the globe are packed with excited explorers. Though it feels like everything is going back to normal, the way people travel has changed. The hospitality tech revolution is making mundane tasks easier and the customer experience richer. Most travelers prefer self-service over waiting to be served. Online planning and bookings have picked up pace, so have contact-less check-in and 24/7 digital concierge. Hotels must swiftly meet these evolving demands or risk losing in the race. They must incorporate technology into their day-to-day operations to eliminate human error, increase their service efficiency, and, above all, offer an outstanding customer experience. One of the technology trends reshaping the travel and hospitality industry is digital concierge—hotel chatbots that bring the concierge desk into the palm of a guest’s hand. Convenient, right? A Sneak Peak into Hotel Chatbots Hotel chatbots are software applications that communicate with your hotel’s website page visitors and resolve their queries. They are either programmed to behave a certain way or can be AI-powered. Programmed chatbots are configured to answer a limited set of questions. However, they can collect visitor information so your customer executives can get in touch with prospects to resolve their queries or provide them with booking assistance. On the other hand, AI-powered chatbots use NLP (Natural Language Processing) and ML (Machine Learning) to analye human behaviour and accordingly answer questions. Digital Concierge Brings in Conversions Personalized communication forms the crux of customer experience. A desired, non-intrusive interaction between a guest and a chat bot can create strong engagement and help the guest to make a booking at your hotel. In such cases, the bot will forward the booking inquiries directly into the IBE (Internet Booking Engine) and strengthen your direct sales. 30-50% of the chatbot-prospect interactions result in IBE forwarding of booking inquiries. This statistic shows how accepting the guests are of the chatbot’s services. (Source: DialogShift, Olga Heuser) Chatbots can also be integrated into social media platforms and instant messenger platforms so that guests can directly make bookings from a platform of their choice. How are Hotel Chatbots Redefining CX? Apart from bringing in revenue through direct sales, hotel chatbots also create a solid customer experience for the guests, so they don’t go home unsatisfied and give you a good review online. Here are the ways in which they enhance the customer experience: 24/7 Availability- Chatbots promptly respond to guest queries round the clock Multi-Lingual Support- Languages are not a barrier for them Efficiency- They lighten your hotel staff’s load of answering guest queries Customer Retention- They collect guest information, which helps in retention and follow-up Brand Awareness- They are brand representatives and increase brand awareness through responsiveness Additionally, AI- powered chatbots can also: Highlight the hotel’s special features upon check-in Recommend places and activities to do around the hotel with pictures and links Request feedback from guests about services Assist with table reservations or pool-side orders The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Used Rose to Impress Guests The introduction of Rose, a smart chatbot that converses with guests on The Cosmopolitan’s website, changed the game for the hotel. The bot’s playful personality wooed hotel guests. Those who made a booking directly from the website ended up spending 37% more than those who did not engage with her. Let’s Wrap It Up A hotel chatbot refines the concierge experience for guests through rapid response times and enhances your hotel’s AI marketing efforts. It can be an invaluable asset for hotel business owners looking to stay ahead in the race.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY,BUSINESS TRAVEL

AI CRM and Online Booking Tipped To Boost Travel Recovery

Article | July 20, 2022

Travel technology professionals view tech as the way to help travel come back stronger, according to research. The TravelTech Show (formerly TTE Europe) polled buyers and suppliers who listed artificial intelligence, customer relationship management and online booking tools as the top three technologies to help boost recovery. Rounding out the top five were self-service portals and innovative payment options. The findings will be unsurprising to many in the industry already looking to AI, the cloud and other technologies to boost efficiency and improve the customer experience. Brian Sheerin, managing director of SABS Travel Technologies, says: Allowing travelers to self-book through an OBT [online booking tool] while still providing simple methods to communicate, such as online chat, are key to reducing customer frustration and allowing travel businesses the space to restructure, to resource and to meet customer expectations. OBTs were already playing a massive part in booking travel pre-pandemic and now it is even more important in the role of rebuilding the sector and customer confidence in it.”In recent weeks, American Airlines announced a far-reaching partnership with Microsoft, Expedia Group unveiled its new tech platform Open World and Miami Airport announced its rollout of biometric boarding technology. Payment developments and other advances in travel fintech also have been highlighted recently as an increasing priority to the industry as it looks to find new revenue streams. The TravelTech Show research also quizzed participants on the top challenges facing the travel technology industry currently, with economic uncertainty taking the top slot (52%), followed by COVID-19 restrictions (46%) and climate change (36%). Cyber security took fourth place compared to two years ago when it was in seventh place. Meanwhile, sustainable travel moved to seventh place compared to the second-place spot it held in 2020.

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COMMERCIAL TRAVEL,INDUSTRY OUTLOOK

Augmented Reality Transforming the Travel and Hospitality Industry

Article | July 13, 2022

“I believe that augmented reality will be the biggest technological revolution that happens in our lifetimes.” – Tim Sweeney, Founder and CEO of Epic Games Augmented reality (AR) has proved to be a significant concept in tourism and hospitality management in the past few years. It allows us to enhance the physical environment and enhance the experience of exploring the surrounding area. According to Grand View Research, the global market for augmented reality was worth USD 25.33 billion in 2021. From 2022 to 2030, the market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40.9%. As things keep pace with digitalization and this generation seeks quick and efficient yet reliable methods, every sector widely uses the application of augmented reality. According to Hospitality Tech, the market size of augmented reality will reach $198 billion by 2025, and the hotel business will be one of the key contributors to this income target. Effectively, Starwood, Marriott and Holiday Inn are already making a difference in the travel and hospitality industry by leveraging this technology. An investment in AR brings a lot of change in business revenue for both small hoteliers and prominent hotel tycoons. AR Improve Customer Experience for Travel and Hospitality Redefine the customer experience with augmented reality in the tourism industry. AR-based travel apps help businesses enhance their services and offer personalized experiences to their customers. By adding interactive hotel features that make the space more fun, you can get people to visit nearby attractions. Utilizing CX to maintain and expand a client base produces a terrific asset that positively affects ROI. CX effectively boosts customer lifetime value (LTV), which can become self-perpetuating. Companies that excel at CX and customer-centricity are 60% more profitable and generate 5.7% more revenue than those that don't. Ideas for Implementing AR in the Tourism and Hotel Industry AR is utilized chiefly via smartphones and offers many options concerning interactive experiences. AR in Excursions & Travel Attractions AR technology may be a terrific marketing tool for guiding first-time guests through the hotel and a great way to retain customers and provide more engaging experiences. With the application of augmented reality software, a standard tourist map comes to life. Moreover, AR technology enables clients to examine points of interest, restaurants, and other businesses. Your hotel restaurant may even use augmented reality to let customers explore the menu and ingredients in a new way by showing them 3D versions of the meals on their phones. Transportation If you have a travel mobile app with AR, you can point out the transportation objects to get the best possible directions, travel route, next destination, and places to travel to. Pokemon Go shows one such example of how you can use modern digital technologies to make the travel experience even better. It became the first popular augmented reality game. This AR app brought players out into the street and made them move and travel a lot. Scadi is one such AR app in travel for visitors of Alpine ski resorts. It uses advanced algorithms to create the most comfortable, safe and exciting routes for skiers and snowboarders. Integrates with other technology Using augmented reality in conjunction with other technologies such as beacon technology allows your hotel to more efficiently promote to visitors and upsell through push notifications. For example, through push notifications, hotels may give partner companies special offers or discounts, and vice versa, partner businesses can advertise the hotel. Hospitality Industry Must Make Room for AR for Better ROI In a post-pandemic context, the travel and hotel industries embrace technological advancements that enhance visitor experiences, eventually boosting corporate income and reducing operating expenses. Utilizing interactive technologies like AR, VR, and other interactive technologies increases operational efficiency, productivity, and ROI. By using augmented reality with CMMS (Computerized Maintenance Management System) or EAM, you gain more understanding (Enterprise Asset Management). Augmented reality can assist facility managers in boosting the efficiency of their engineers and reducing the expense of ensuring their safety. AR will assist them in increasing their revenue by reducing their maintenance expenses. Using AR-based product models, the hospitality industry is gaining a significant competitive edge, resulting in faster sales cycles. Case Studies Holiday Inn During the Olympic and Paralympic Games in London in 2012, Holiday Inn introduced one of the first uses of Augmented Reality in a hotel setting. The experiences used picture recognition and chroma video. The program identified hotel locations and activated athlete video footage, merging real and virtual components. This Holiday Inn use case shows how hotels may leverage AR to develop unique guest experiences around local events. In addition, the campaign helped promote the hotel and bolster its status as the official hotel for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Premier Inn The Hub Hotel from Premier Inn, the largest hotel chain in the United Kingdom, is one of the few places to have adopted the AR technology back in 2016. The hotel provided a wall map of the local region in each room. Tourists could use their smartphones to read information about local areas of interest by pointing them at a wall. Conclusion The benefits of augmented reality in the travel and hospitality industries are immense. AR is a potent tool for increasing company potential and returns on investment. Utilizing innovative technology boosts your hotel's exposure and brand awareness while propelling it into the digital age. Augmented reality in the tourism industry truly sets you apart from the competition. FAQ How is augmented reality changing the travel & tourism industry? Augmented reality helps hotels enhance the physical locations they are attempting to attract visitors to, such as hotel rooms and local attractions. What is digital transformation in the hospitality industry? Digital transformation refers to how companies restructure themselves to adapt and modify their corporate culture to empower innovations that utilize technology and propel their enterprises to new levels of growth. What are the benefits of augmented reality? Creates unique customer experiences Reduces cognitive overload Increases engagement

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BUSINESS TRAVEL

Excellent Customer Experience in Travel Industry Generate Customer Loyalty

Article | May 10, 2022

As the impact of COVID-19 subsides, the devasted travel industry appears to be resuming normalcy with increased travel volumes. In addition, emerging tourism trends and technology in the travel industry have offered new possibilities for business travel to redefine itself. The present opportunities available in the travel sector may benefit your firm. However, customer experience in the travel industry has a significant impact on growing long-term loyalty. Providing a positive client experience is a significant problem for many in the travel and tourism industry. Customer Experience Is a Challenge to Recover Customer experience is a critical component of the travel and tourism industry. As travel volumes have increased in the post-covid era, so have negative travel experiences. Business travelers who commute frequently have higher expectations. For a very long time, they have voiced their dissatisfaction, even before the leisure travelers complained. This imbalance has been exacerbated by COVID-19. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, 38% of business passengers complained about the airline, double the percentage compared to leisure travelers. The actual question, though, is how to overcome this obstacle. Some companies may go above and beyond to reassure travelers with honesty, openness, and unmatched customer service. You may improve the customer experience by implementing the following ideas. Concentrate on the corporate culture Give specific examples of consumer advocacy Equip employees with the necessary tools According to a survey conducted by Think with Google, superior customer service is the most compelling aspect for high-value travelers. Additionally, 60% of them agree that customer service is the most crucial factor when it comes to picking a brand to travel with. CX Plays a Vital Role in Revenue Generation Managing customer experience in travel can enhance the brand-customer relationship, ultimately leading to revenue growth. The adoption of technology for travel booking, ticketing, and expenditure management has improved the customer experience. Satisfied customers increase income and assist firms in calculating the return on their travel and cost expenditures. Customer experience is a key differentiator that boosts customer happiness and loyalty, and both sells and establishes a competitive edge. “CX is the difference between success or slump.” — Chris Pescott, CEO of Perceptive. Annual business travel expenditures will reach $1.7 trillion globally by 2022. According to Statista, nearly 500 million business travels will take place withing the United States each year by 2022. Ways to Improve Customer Experience (CX) Use Tech to Create Breakthrough Customer Experiences Technology in the travel industry is regularly evolving. By putting technology at the center of each touchpoint, the industry is laying the groundwork for a successful customer experience in travel. Chatbots powered by AI and machine learning deliver client care 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Chatbots have been intelligently developed using cutting-edge technology and may be used in place of humans. AI is constantly evolving, making it more trustworthy and effective as a commercial solution. Embrace an Omnichannel Mindset With mobile devices accounting for more than 50% of online traffic, multi-device digital experiences have become the norm. In addition, today's customers interact with companies across various offline and online channels, frequently switching several times, and each stage of the journey must be seamlessly connected and consistent. As a result, adopting omnichannel is one of the most significant changes you will undertake. Use Customer Journey Mapping To create a customer journey, you must first understand your consumer. By comparing journey maps to core KPIs, you may gain a deeper insight into your customer experience and identify areas of concern and opportunity. You may use trip maps to enhance the customer experience and visualize the customer experience in the future. Alternatively, you may influence organizational transformation from the stage of inspiration to the planning and execution phases. Utilize all touchpoints and seek new possibilities for interaction. Case studies: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines KLM's social care staff are well-known for their responsiveness and efficiency – the airline even shows a live countdown on its Twitter header picture to inform consumers when they may anticipate a response. However, what sets the organization apart is its ability to generate unique customer experiences. Qatar Airways Qatar Airways is elevating the business class travel experience. At a recent travel industry conference in Berlin, the airline unveiled its Business Class QSuite. This is the first time a business class cabin has been offered and sold with a real double bed. However, the organization goes a step further by providing value to consumers traveling for business. Additionally, the QSuite may be an open work and meeting room. Multiple configuration choices appeal to clients seeking privacy or personalization. A score of 9.2 for audience insights indicates that the brand is in tune with its social audience well enough to cultivate an impressive number of committed followers. Conclusion The travel and tourism industry significantly benefits from nurturing an outstanding customer experience. Supremacy in customer experience can be offered with the help of sophisticated digital technology that can quantify effects and forecast behavior. In addition, as 'bleisure' travel continues to grow in popularity to blend business and leisure time, the customer experience in travel is increasing in relevance. FAQ: What are the benefits of a good customer experience? A good customer experience increases sales and creates customer loyalty. Moreover, it reduces complaints. How would you define excellent customer service? Great customer service means responding promptly to a client's wants, being responsive to their concerns, and offering an enthusiastic level of care. Do you value customer service or customer experience more? Consumer service results in a positive customer experience. Both are critical to the business's success.

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Spotlight

4.0 Tours

We create custom study abroad programs including day, weekend, and long break trips for any group size. With over 15 years of experience in the student travel industry, our expertise ensures a seamless experience from planning through execution.

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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

Loews Hotels & Co Breaks Ground on New $550 Million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center

Loews Hotels & Co | October 13, 2021

Loews Hotels & Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loews Corporation, has officially broken ground on the new $550 million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center. Executives from the company were joined by Arlington Mayor Jim Ross, former Mayor Jeff Williams, Chairman & Managing Partner of the Texas Rangers Ray Davis, The Cordish Companies' Director of Communications, Cari Furman, along with members of the Arlington City Council and other community and business leaders, to recognize and celebrate this milestone. The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center, a full-service resort, will further strengthen Arlington's robust convention and tourism opportunities. The city is one of the premier sports and entertainment destinations in the United States, and a leading destination for meetings, events, and leisure travel. "Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will allow us to capitalize on what we do best – combine a unique meetings and events destination with a best-in-class leisure resort. This significant investment further underscores our confidence and commitment not only in the great City of Arlington, Texas but also in the strength of the travel and tourism industry and our belief in the recovery of post-pandemic travel." Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels & Co. This property will be the second Arlington hotel for the hospitality company. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is scheduled to open in early 2024. This new hotel will be located across from Live! by Loews, which is a joint venture among Loews Hotels & Co, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, built on the former Texas Rangers' Lot J parking lot. "Arlington has some of the best built-in demand generators in the country, such as AT&T Stadium and Globe-Life Field. These attractions, coupled with Loews Hotels' track record of offering distinctive experiences alongside operational excellence, will help establish the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center as a centerpiece in The American Dream City," said Alex Tisch, President, Loews Hotels & Co. "Our goal is for Arlington, Texas to stand alongside Las Vegas and Orland as one of the preeminent family, sports and entertainment destinations in America." This new project marks the first time that Loews Hotels & Co is acting as the developer as well as the owner and branded operator. The nearly $550 million project is financed with Loews Hotels & Co capital and a $300 million loan from MetLife Investment Management. "Arlington continues to build on our incredible economic momentum, and today's groundbreaking is another exciting example of our commitment to job creation and providing world-class amenities to our residents and visitors," said Arlington Mayor Jim Ross. "Loews Hotels & Co is a best-in-class hotel brand and with innovative partners like Loews Hotels & Co, the Tisch Family, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, we're able to further establish The American Dream City as a premier destination for visitors around the globe." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will feature: 888 guestrooms and suites 200,000 square feet of indoor meeting space 66,000 square feet of outdoor space, including an oversized event lawn Five food and beverage outlets, including a three-meal indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring two wood-fire pizza ovens and homemade pasta made on-site and a soon-to-be-named third-party restaurant from a well-known restaurateur 1,550-space parking garage Resort-style beach club with two pools, man-made beach, cabanas, fire pits and water slide The Arlington Convention Center, also operated by Loews Hotels & Co, will be located within the hotel Situated between Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium, Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will be accessible to the 300-room Live! by Loews via a Sky Bridge. The two hotels combined will offer nearly 1,200 guestrooms and more than 300,000 square feet of meeting and event space. "The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and the Arlington Convention Center bring the development of the Arlington Entertainment District to another whole level," said Texas Rangers Chairman and Managing Partner Ray Davis. "The existing world-class sports and entertainment venues will now be complimented by incredible hotel and meeting facilities that will attract national and international events of all kinds. I want to thank our partners, the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, and The Cordish Companies for sharing our vision that has become a spectacular reality in a few short years." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is part of phase two of the development of Arlington's Entertainment District. Continuing their public-private partnership with the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, The Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies are building upon the momentum and success of Texas Live!, Live! by Loews, and the Rangers' new Globe Life Field. Additional features of the new expansion include a mixed-use residential building and a Spark coworking space, both developed by The Cordish Companies. "It is an honor for The Cordish Companies to continue our partnership with the Texas Rangers, Loews Hotels & Co and the City of Arlington to deliver a transformative project for Arlington," said Blake Cordish, Principal of The Cordish Companies. "Loews is one of the preeminent hoteliers in North America and a leader in the convention and meetings industry. The groundbreaking of the new Loews Arlington Hotel and Arlington Convention Center is an important next step in our commitment to create a world-class, mixed-use development that will cement Arlington as one of the leading premier sports, entertainment, culture, hospitality and tourism destinations in the country." Loews Hotels & Co is working with HKS as the architect and Looney & Associates on the interior design for this new development. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is being built by JE Dunn, who recently built the Loews Kansas City Hotel, which opened in June 2020. Arlington's Con-Real is also involved in the construction of the project. About Loews Hotels & Co Headquartered in New York City, Loews Hotels & Co is rooted in deep heritage and excellence in service. The hospitality company encompasses branded independent Loews Hotels, and a solid mix of partner-brand hotels. Loews Hotels & Co owns and/or operates 26 hotels and resorts across the U.S. and Canada, including the new Loews Kansas City and Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, the eighth hotel in partnership with Comcast NBC Universal that opened at the end of 2020. Located in major city centers and resort destinations from coast to coast, the Loews Hotels portfolio features properties grounded in family heritage and dedicated to delivering unscripted guest moments with a handcrafted approach.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

RateGain's OPTIMA releases MarketDRONE Narratives to help hoteliers react faster to market volatility

RateGain Technologies | September 08, 2021

RateGain Technologies, a provider of SaaS solutions for travel and hospitality, announced the launch of MarketDRONE Narratives, an update to its real-time rate intelligence SaaS solution for hotels, OPTIMA. Through this update, RateGain aims to transform how revenue managers plan and tackle market volatility on an everyday basis. On a daily basis revenue managers spend considerable time manually sourcing data and identifying critical insights that impact their market position. However, with increasing demand channels, last-minute travel plans, and the ongoing volatility, most revenue managers are pressed for time to get these insights on demand to mitigate inaccurate and incomplete analysis that drives revenue maximization. MarketDRONE Narratives provides clear actionable insights, shared every time there is a change in the market, helping revenue and pricing managers know exactly how to position ones revenue strategies for the day to mitigate any loss of market share while increasing RevPAR. Revenue and pricing managers will now save critical time that was earlier spent in collating and analyzing data, allowing them to take the lead in attracting more guests and increasing revenue. Narratives are generated based on change hints using a mix of distribution and market supply data combined with competitive rate shopping data across Hotels and OTAs. It generates personalized insights using all these data points with customized thresholds for each of the hotels that they can configure to get the most relevant insights for tailoring their strategies. RateGain developed these narratives by consulting our customers, industry experts to understand insights that are most vital to make better strategies. Over the last few years, RateGain has focused on solving the problem of collecting and providing accurate real-time data for hoteliers through updates to OPTIMA such as pricing playground and lightning refresh. However, with the volatility introduced in pricing since the pandemic, hoteliers don't only need real-time data but also instant insights which are powered by Narratives. Commenting on the launch, Harmeet Singh, CEO, RateGain, said, "As one of the largest aggregators of data in our industry, RateGain is committed to listening to our customers who have clearly stated the need to evolve rate intelligence solutions. MarketDRONE Narratives is a step in that direction where we continue to push innovation and help our customers move faster every day to unlock more revenue. We will continue to evolve and add more depth to this product such as providing insights on Parity and Events Intelligence to help our customers get all the insights they need instantly. " About RateGain RateGain is a global provider of SaaS solutions for the hospitality and travel industry, offering travel and hospitality solutions that unlock new revenue every day. We are one of the largest aggregators of data points in the world for the hospitality and travel industry.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

HUAWEI INVESTS $100M IN STARTUPS, MAKES FIRST TRAVEL MOVE IN MIDDLE EAST

Huawei | August 26, 2021

As part of its move away from hardware, Huawei is scaling up its cloud services and startup support in Asia Pacific and, while travel and hospitality is not top of mind yet, its move into this vertical seems inevitable with the expansion of its headquarters in Singapore and a recent first move in the Middle East. Huawei, facing pressure in Western markets and a slowdown in consumer business amid U.S. sanctions, has been steadily moving its focus away from manufacturing to become a tech and software company that believes “deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems the world is facing right now. "We will keep on innovating to help build a low-carbon, intelligent world,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the release of business results for the first half earlier this month. In the Middle East, travel marketplace Wego is the first travel player to sign a partnership with Huawei’s Petal Search to integrate the travel app into Huawei smartphones. “The world of travel and hospitality has entered a new era of m-commerce, as more than 60% of travellers rely entirely on smartphone applications when making their travel plans. Pre-installing the Wego app into smartphones is part of our continuous efforts to enable these travellers to get the best deals and options when shopping for their holiday,” says Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India. From May, all Huawei smartphones EMUI 5 and above bundled with the Wego app will be made available across stores in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan. “Over the last few years, we have been noticing a significant rise in the number of Wego users on Huawei devices. Interestingly, it has also been noted that Huawei smartphone users tend to spend more on travel than the average Android user,” says Hmedan. In the startup space, Huawei announced its plan to invest $100 million in the ecosystem, with the funds going towards its Spark Program in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years. Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are the priority markets and at the Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit in July, it announced the programme would develop four additional startup hubs – Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The overarching aim is to recruit a total of 1,000 startups into the Spark accelerator program and shaping 100 of them into scaleups. Speaking at the Summit, Huawei senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen said 34 years ago, Huawei was a startup with just $5,000 of registered capital. “Recently, we have been thinking: How can we leverage our experience and resources to help more startups address their challenges? Doing so would allow them to seize the opportunities posed by digital transformation, achieve business success, and develop more innovative products and solutions for the world.” Alexis Lee, Spark program manager at Huawei Cloud and AI Asia Pacific, who joined the team in January, told WebInTravel that 40 startups came through in the first cohort and about eight to 10 were identified to enter the “Spark Fire” programme, an accelerator. Zhang Ping’an, senior vice president of Huawei, CEO of Huawei Cloud BU, and president of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, announced at the Summit that “we have already helped four of these startups launch new products and completely transform their businesses, while helping eight enter new markets”. It is currently in the midst of selecting the second cohort – entries closed last week. Lee, who previously worked in the investor space and was at Grab for two years, said how Huawei differentiated from other accelerators in Singapore is in its business development strength. “We introduce startups to clients, obviously in China, as well as global. China is obviously the most attractive market for scale up.” It does not take equity, rather it invests in kind, offering cloud infrastructure support in credits as well as a strong mentoring and investor network. “The programme is about building up the startup community, and sharing our resources. We have the tech know-how and the client network to help startups scale.” Areas of interest include anything to do with AI, ML or 5G and industry verticals include fintech, logistics, smart cities, ad tech and insurance tech. Huawei says its global HMS ecosystem is the world’s third largest mobile app ecosystem, serving 4.5 million developers in over 170 countries and regions. The goal is to cultivate over 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers in Asia Pacific over three years. Huawei Cloud is second in China and fifth in the global IaaS market.

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HOSPITALITY TRENDS

Loews Hotels & Co Breaks Ground on New $550 Million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center

Loews Hotels & Co | October 13, 2021

Loews Hotels & Co, a wholly owned subsidiary of Loews Corporation, has officially broken ground on the new $550 million Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center. Executives from the company were joined by Arlington Mayor Jim Ross, former Mayor Jeff Williams, Chairman & Managing Partner of the Texas Rangers Ray Davis, The Cordish Companies' Director of Communications, Cari Furman, along with members of the Arlington City Council and other community and business leaders, to recognize and celebrate this milestone. The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center, a full-service resort, will further strengthen Arlington's robust convention and tourism opportunities. The city is one of the premier sports and entertainment destinations in the United States, and a leading destination for meetings, events, and leisure travel. "Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will allow us to capitalize on what we do best – combine a unique meetings and events destination with a best-in-class leisure resort. This significant investment further underscores our confidence and commitment not only in the great City of Arlington, Texas but also in the strength of the travel and tourism industry and our belief in the recovery of post-pandemic travel." Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels & Co. This property will be the second Arlington hotel for the hospitality company. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is scheduled to open in early 2024. This new hotel will be located across from Live! by Loews, which is a joint venture among Loews Hotels & Co, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, built on the former Texas Rangers' Lot J parking lot. "Arlington has some of the best built-in demand generators in the country, such as AT&T Stadium and Globe-Life Field. These attractions, coupled with Loews Hotels' track record of offering distinctive experiences alongside operational excellence, will help establish the Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center as a centerpiece in The American Dream City," said Alex Tisch, President, Loews Hotels & Co. "Our goal is for Arlington, Texas to stand alongside Las Vegas and Orland as one of the preeminent family, sports and entertainment destinations in America." This new project marks the first time that Loews Hotels & Co is acting as the developer as well as the owner and branded operator. The nearly $550 million project is financed with Loews Hotels & Co capital and a $300 million loan from MetLife Investment Management. "Arlington continues to build on our incredible economic momentum, and today's groundbreaking is another exciting example of our commitment to job creation and providing world-class amenities to our residents and visitors," said Arlington Mayor Jim Ross. "Loews Hotels & Co is a best-in-class hotel brand and with innovative partners like Loews Hotels & Co, the Tisch Family, the Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies, we're able to further establish The American Dream City as a premier destination for visitors around the globe." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will feature: 888 guestrooms and suites 200,000 square feet of indoor meeting space 66,000 square feet of outdoor space, including an oversized event lawn Five food and beverage outlets, including a three-meal indoor/outdoor restaurant featuring two wood-fire pizza ovens and homemade pasta made on-site and a soon-to-be-named third-party restaurant from a well-known restaurateur 1,550-space parking garage Resort-style beach club with two pools, man-made beach, cabanas, fire pits and water slide The Arlington Convention Center, also operated by Loews Hotels & Co, will be located within the hotel Situated between Globe Life Field and AT&T Stadium, Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center will be accessible to the 300-room Live! by Loews via a Sky Bridge. The two hotels combined will offer nearly 1,200 guestrooms and more than 300,000 square feet of meeting and event space. "The addition of the Loews Arlington Hotel and the Arlington Convention Center bring the development of the Arlington Entertainment District to another whole level," said Texas Rangers Chairman and Managing Partner Ray Davis. "The existing world-class sports and entertainment venues will now be complimented by incredible hotel and meeting facilities that will attract national and international events of all kinds. I want to thank our partners, the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, and The Cordish Companies for sharing our vision that has become a spectacular reality in a few short years." Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is part of phase two of the development of Arlington's Entertainment District. Continuing their public-private partnership with the City of Arlington, Loews Hotels & Co, The Texas Rangers and The Cordish Companies are building upon the momentum and success of Texas Live!, Live! by Loews, and the Rangers' new Globe Life Field. Additional features of the new expansion include a mixed-use residential building and a Spark coworking space, both developed by The Cordish Companies. "It is an honor for The Cordish Companies to continue our partnership with the Texas Rangers, Loews Hotels & Co and the City of Arlington to deliver a transformative project for Arlington," said Blake Cordish, Principal of The Cordish Companies. "Loews is one of the preeminent hoteliers in North America and a leader in the convention and meetings industry. The groundbreaking of the new Loews Arlington Hotel and Arlington Convention Center is an important next step in our commitment to create a world-class, mixed-use development that will cement Arlington as one of the leading premier sports, entertainment, culture, hospitality and tourism destinations in the country." Loews Hotels & Co is working with HKS as the architect and Looney & Associates on the interior design for this new development. Loews Arlington Hotel and Convention Center is being built by JE Dunn, who recently built the Loews Kansas City Hotel, which opened in June 2020. Arlington's Con-Real is also involved in the construction of the project. About Loews Hotels & Co Headquartered in New York City, Loews Hotels & Co is rooted in deep heritage and excellence in service. The hospitality company encompasses branded independent Loews Hotels, and a solid mix of partner-brand hotels. Loews Hotels & Co owns and/or operates 26 hotels and resorts across the U.S. and Canada, including the new Loews Kansas City and Universal's Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites, the eighth hotel in partnership with Comcast NBC Universal that opened at the end of 2020. Located in major city centers and resort destinations from coast to coast, the Loews Hotels portfolio features properties grounded in family heritage and dedicated to delivering unscripted guest moments with a handcrafted approach.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

RateGain's OPTIMA releases MarketDRONE Narratives to help hoteliers react faster to market volatility

RateGain Technologies | September 08, 2021

RateGain Technologies, a provider of SaaS solutions for travel and hospitality, announced the launch of MarketDRONE Narratives, an update to its real-time rate intelligence SaaS solution for hotels, OPTIMA. Through this update, RateGain aims to transform how revenue managers plan and tackle market volatility on an everyday basis. On a daily basis revenue managers spend considerable time manually sourcing data and identifying critical insights that impact their market position. However, with increasing demand channels, last-minute travel plans, and the ongoing volatility, most revenue managers are pressed for time to get these insights on demand to mitigate inaccurate and incomplete analysis that drives revenue maximization. MarketDRONE Narratives provides clear actionable insights, shared every time there is a change in the market, helping revenue and pricing managers know exactly how to position ones revenue strategies for the day to mitigate any loss of market share while increasing RevPAR. Revenue and pricing managers will now save critical time that was earlier spent in collating and analyzing data, allowing them to take the lead in attracting more guests and increasing revenue. Narratives are generated based on change hints using a mix of distribution and market supply data combined with competitive rate shopping data across Hotels and OTAs. It generates personalized insights using all these data points with customized thresholds for each of the hotels that they can configure to get the most relevant insights for tailoring their strategies. RateGain developed these narratives by consulting our customers, industry experts to understand insights that are most vital to make better strategies. Over the last few years, RateGain has focused on solving the problem of collecting and providing accurate real-time data for hoteliers through updates to OPTIMA such as pricing playground and lightning refresh. However, with the volatility introduced in pricing since the pandemic, hoteliers don't only need real-time data but also instant insights which are powered by Narratives. Commenting on the launch, Harmeet Singh, CEO, RateGain, said, "As one of the largest aggregators of data in our industry, RateGain is committed to listening to our customers who have clearly stated the need to evolve rate intelligence solutions. MarketDRONE Narratives is a step in that direction where we continue to push innovation and help our customers move faster every day to unlock more revenue. We will continue to evolve and add more depth to this product such as providing insights on Parity and Events Intelligence to help our customers get all the insights they need instantly. " About RateGain RateGain is a global provider of SaaS solutions for the hospitality and travel industry, offering travel and hospitality solutions that unlock new revenue every day. We are one of the largest aggregators of data points in the world for the hospitality and travel industry.

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TRAVEL TECHNOLOGY

HUAWEI INVESTS $100M IN STARTUPS, MAKES FIRST TRAVEL MOVE IN MIDDLE EAST

Huawei | August 26, 2021

As part of its move away from hardware, Huawei is scaling up its cloud services and startup support in Asia Pacific and, while travel and hospitality is not top of mind yet, its move into this vertical seems inevitable with the expansion of its headquarters in Singapore and a recent first move in the Middle East. Huawei, facing pressure in Western markets and a slowdown in consumer business amid U.S. sanctions, has been steadily moving its focus away from manufacturing to become a tech and software company that believes “deeply in the power of digital technology to provide fresh solutions to the problems the world is facing right now. "We will keep on innovating to help build a low-carbon, intelligent world,” said Eric Xu, Huawei’s Rotating Chairman, at the release of business results for the first half earlier this month. In the Middle East, travel marketplace Wego is the first travel player to sign a partnership with Huawei’s Petal Search to integrate the travel app into Huawei smartphones. “The world of travel and hospitality has entered a new era of m-commerce, as more than 60% of travellers rely entirely on smartphone applications when making their travel plans. Pre-installing the Wego app into smartphones is part of our continuous efforts to enable these travellers to get the best deals and options when shopping for their holiday,” says Mamoun Hmedan, Wego managing director for MENA and India. From May, all Huawei smartphones EMUI 5 and above bundled with the Wego app will be made available across stores in the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia and Pakistan. “Over the last few years, we have been noticing a significant rise in the number of Wego users on Huawei devices. Interestingly, it has also been noted that Huawei smartphone users tend to spend more on travel than the average Android user,” says Hmedan. In the startup space, Huawei announced its plan to invest $100 million in the ecosystem, with the funds going towards its Spark Program in the Asia Pacific region over the next three years. Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand are the priority markets and at the Huawei Cloud Spark Founders Summit in July, it announced the programme would develop four additional startup hubs – Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. The overarching aim is to recruit a total of 1,000 startups into the Spark accelerator program and shaping 100 of them into scaleups. Speaking at the Summit, Huawei senior vice president and board member Catherine Chen said 34 years ago, Huawei was a startup with just $5,000 of registered capital. “Recently, we have been thinking: How can we leverage our experience and resources to help more startups address their challenges? Doing so would allow them to seize the opportunities posed by digital transformation, achieve business success, and develop more innovative products and solutions for the world.” Alexis Lee, Spark program manager at Huawei Cloud and AI Asia Pacific, who joined the team in January, told WebInTravel that 40 startups came through in the first cohort and about eight to 10 were identified to enter the “Spark Fire” programme, an accelerator. Zhang Ping’an, senior vice president of Huawei, CEO of Huawei Cloud BU, and president of Huawei Consumer Cloud Service, announced at the Summit that “we have already helped four of these startups launch new products and completely transform their businesses, while helping eight enter new markets”. It is currently in the midst of selecting the second cohort – entries closed last week. Lee, who previously worked in the investor space and was at Grab for two years, said how Huawei differentiated from other accelerators in Singapore is in its business development strength. “We introduce startups to clients, obviously in China, as well as global. China is obviously the most attractive market for scale up.” It does not take equity, rather it invests in kind, offering cloud infrastructure support in credits as well as a strong mentoring and investor network. “The programme is about building up the startup community, and sharing our resources. We have the tech know-how and the client network to help startups scale.” Areas of interest include anything to do with AI, ML or 5G and industry verticals include fintech, logistics, smart cities, ad tech and insurance tech. Huawei says its global HMS ecosystem is the world’s third largest mobile app ecosystem, serving 4.5 million developers in over 170 countries and regions. The goal is to cultivate over 100,000 HMS cloud-native developers in Asia Pacific over three years. Huawei Cloud is second in China and fifth in the global IaaS market.

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