Artificial Intelligence, touchless hotels, memberships, guest loyalty, trust, responsibility and the primacy of community are transforming hotel and hospitality marketing as the fallout from Covid becomes painfully real for the travel industry.

The consensus from a panel of six hospitality analysts and consultants addressing the  Bidroom-organised I Meet Hotel webinar from Italy, 29 October, was that the pre-2020 hospitality industry is all-but gone, with the biggest impacts in business travel, meetings, and longhaul aviation.

There will be no quick rebound from 2020, said the panellists. Next year will look and feel a lot like this year, with only slight easing.

On the demand side we can expect to see the continued primacy of domestic and car travel, and a lack of confidence in air and coach travel, said Giancarlo Carniani, General Manager of ToFlorence Hotels and Italy analyst at Phocuswright.

Surveys suggest the lifting of government restrictions will be key to bringing back consumer demand. Nevertheless, around 25% of people are ready to travel domestically now, with up to 90% saying they will travel domestically in 2021, based on Phocuswright data.

Tourists now value responsibility and trust more, said Maria Elena Rossi, Marketing and Promotions Director at ENIT, the Italian NTO. The slump in demand has given the industry space to address market segmentation and decide which kind of customer each destination really wants.

She told the online audience that it would probably not be until 2023 until tourism in Europe sees 2019 numbers again.

On the supply side hoteliers and destinations are grappling with unprecedented volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity, said Silvia Cantarella of Revenue Acrobats. There is often little or no revenue to manage. Forecasting is deeply problematic. It’s all a nightmare for hotel revenue managers.

Saying that 2020 was a “perfect storm” that accelerated changes that were already on the way, Cantarella had one clear recommendation: “It is vital to treat your hotel as a total asset and tap into all extra revenue opportunities.”

Turn your meeting space into a spa. Supply meals to local consumers. “Hybridisation generates new synergies and value,” said Nicola Accurso, founder of 21 Way of Living, a hotel sector consultancy. Hotels need to reinvent themselves with hybrid business models that optimise occupancy rates, he said. The emphasis should be on boosting the profitability of spaces and diversifying the mix of business, leisure and events.

The focus should be on creating a community of interests. One of the ways to do that is by creating guest loyalty through memberships based on a value added emotive bond with consumers.

Bidroom, an online community of frequent travellers, is one example. Its CEO Michael Ros said hotels should embrace flexibility and hybrid models. “Adapt to new realities and customer needs. Offer services such as hotel rooms as offices, food delivery, hybrid events. Offer long-stay rates, flexible rates, safety and hygiene services, and more.”

The Rise of Artificial Intelligence
The interface between supply and demand is now being transformed by artificial intelligence, said Simone Puorto, a hotel industry futurist, founder and CEO of Travel Singularity. The majority of poor hotel experiences on review sites are due to staff – i.e. humans. So we should embrace the substantial upsides where AI complements human intelligence in the delivery of service, he argued.

With the continued rise of nano technology, 3D printing, machine learning, easier and cheaper access to cloud computing, AI is poised to transform hospitality. It has already transformed manufacturing, Wall St and aviation.

Puorto showed that in the near future we can expect more touchless hotels, voice activated systems, self check in and out, and automated deliveries of luggage, food and drink to guest rooms.

“Hotels of the future will give guests the choice of interacting with humans or machines,” Puorto predicted.

Indeed, Cantarella argued that in the new era of man and machine collaboration, hoteliers will have to start thinking and acting like “Transversal Ninjas”.

Further insights from the I Meet Hotel, Italy, webinar and others are available by signing up at the I Meet Hotel website.

The next I Meet Hotel event, organised by Bidroom, will take place 28 November 2020 in partnership with the Swiss Hotel Management School.

I Meet Hotel is the first global industry event connecting hoteliers to the future of hospitality. Together, we will give our audience the keys to higher revenue and a customer loyalty approach with insightful conferences. We put emphasis on the networking session which enables all the participants to get to know each other, talk, exchange experiences and develop new business and personal relations. It is the perfect occasion to inspire and be inspired. I Meet Hotel physical events have recently taken place in Krakow, Istanbul, and Amsterdam. Special online ones have focused on France and Italy. The next I Meet Hotel will be with SHMS Switzerland on 28 November, 2020.

Bidroom is the world’s first membership-based hotel booking platform. It has offices in Amsterdam, Krakow, Istanbul and Paris. Bidroom’s fair-minded and transparent view on booking hotels and its unique, self-developed technology has gained praise in the hospitality industry worldwide since its introduction in 2016.

Since then, the company has earned many awards and accolades: Best “Grown Startup” from Hospitality Technology Forum 2019; Top Foreign Travel Startup 2018 at the Uzakrota Travel Awards; Tourism Trends Award 2018 – „IT for travel”; Startup Of The Year 2018 by travmagazine; Startup Innovation 2017 from World Tourism Forum Lucerne; Best Travel Startup of the Year 2017 from Uzakrota Travel Awards; Best Start-up in the Grown Startup category at the Hospitality Technology Forum 2019 in Zurich. Wired included Bidroom in its Hottest Startups in Amsterdam list in 2019; Forbes included it in its Eight Entrepreneurs And Their Startups That Are Shaping Travel Tech(2019)