Skip to main content

Seen & Heard at HITEC 2023

Technology leaders agree that AI will continue to be a driving force in hospitality tech, but don't forget about the possibilities that virtual reality, robotics, modernized workforce management technologies and even holograms can offer.
HITEC Exhibit Hall
Advertisement - article continues below

During HITEC 2023, Hospitality Technology spent time with a variety of exhibitors, learning about the new technologies they were showcasing at the show and picking their brains as to which technologies might become hospitality heavy weights and which might fall to the wayside. While generative AI was on the minds of most of those we spoke with, quite a few tech leaders felt that the best use of their time - and of their clients’ time - was to focus on getting the basics right first, before trying to dive headfirst into the myriad possibilities that AI offers. Here are a few brief recaps from some of the technology leaders we visited with during the show.

Above Property Services

During HITEC 2023, Above Property Services (APS) was showcasing its “Hotel in a Box” product. According to Aaron Shepherd, CEO and co-founder, the solution is everything a hotel needs to run their business from distribution and revenue management to booking engine, CRS, call center, PMS and more. Hoteliers using this particular product don’t have to worry that a reservation in the CRS didn’t show up in the PMS, or that a rate change in the PMS didn’t make it to the CRS because everything is integrated and created to work together seamlessly.

“We’re offering hotels a simple, elegant solution,” Shepherd said.

APS was also sharing with prospective clients that the company is  a distributed compute and distributed data platform, meaning it is an active actor in multiple Amazon regions around the world.

“From a point-of-presence standpoint, we are very fast with mobile devices and things like that because we have local hops worldwide,” Shepherd explained. “That’s how we’ve been able to have 100 percent uptime since our launch in 2015, and we take no scheduled downtime.”

In the near future, APS plans to launch a new trip planning tool that will incorporate AI called Trek. Trek will allow tour operators and travel agents to book fully complete global itineraries. An easy to use workflow engine for Travel Agents and Tour Operators, Trek can act as their primary tool to book and manage air, hotel, and transportation for their clients. The platform will also deliver on the go mobile and online access with real time connectivity to more than 350,000 hotels.


Actabl celebrated its first anniversary at HITEC 2023  with the debut of a unified launcher. As you’ll recall, the company was born from the merger of four other companies: Profitsword, Hotel Effectiveness, ALICE, and Transcendent. Therefore, this unified launcher offers users of multiple Actabl products access to all of them via a single login. Additionally, the products have been integrated on the backend so that customers can pull and push data between the two products without issue.  

While the company already offers business intelligence and predictive analytics, Actabl is looking to the future with prescriptive analytics and generative AI, says Anu Sharma, Vice President of Technology and Delivery. Specifically, the company wants to be able to offer hotel guests a customized experience through its guest application. Additionally, it plans to integrate more with IoT solutions so that it can make better recommendations on energy efficiency, sustainability and the like. And it plans to use generative AI to answer questions for its hotel clients such as: Who are our main customers? What region should we expand to? and Where can we do a better job of upselling or cross selling? 


Allseated has been working for more than a decade to enhance the hotel event planning experience. During the pandemic, the company developed a platform, leveraging the power of digital twin technology, that allows event planners to navigate through a hotel's event space and arrange tables, chairs, and other elements with precision. This results in a realistic preview of the event's look and functionality. It streamlines planning, eliminating the need for physical prototypes, allowing visualization and design of all aspects, from venue layout to lighting and sound arrangements.

Looking ahead, Allseated is considering expanding the capabilities of its platform to cater to leisure guests. These guests will be able to explore and visualize their rooms, the hotel view, pool, spa, and other key areas. Augmented reality will also be incorporated into this digital twin experience, allowing guests to virtually walk through the space and access important information like spa hours, pool location, and restaurant reservations.

"At this crucial moment, we are witnessing the profound impact and transformative potential of AI, AR, and VR on the hospitality industry," explained Erin Rooney, Chief Marketing Officer at Allseated Inc. "While we had previously explored VR but withdrew due to its premature state, the debut of Apple's VR headset has rekindled our interest, making it an interesting prospect, potentially becoming integral to Allseated's future."


During HITEC 2023, Amadeus and Knowland announced the creation of a new performance index: The Hospitality Group and Business Performance Index. This expanded partnership with Knowland will help the industry understand key trends in group travel, measure performance, and plan for the future. The Index combines Knowland’s event data—such as attendee numbers and the volume of booked space—with Amadeus’ group, negotiated, and GDS hotel booking data to give both individual and aggregate views of the key drivers of hotel performance.

When it comes to technology of the future, the company is cautiously optimistic about generative AI and its use cases.

“We’re being highly selective on which use cases we want to put forward when using generative AI,” said Michael Yeomans, SVP BI and Data Solutions. “We think there’s a real opportunity for generative AI to help the industry, but we don’t want to just follow a trend simply because it’s the buzz word of the day.”

The company is instead focusing on being a more connected provider and knitting together the hospitality ecosystem for the benefit of hoteliers of all sizes. 

“This industry is still small enough that the various providers need to find a way to work together,” Yeomans added. “So for us, we’re really making sure that the solutions we put out there are relevant and drive differentiated and incremental impact for the properties, and that we can connect with relevant partners in the industry. With 1,200 partners (and growing!), we’re doing just that.”


According to Uli Pillau, founder, Apaleo, typical property management systems - whether they’re on premise or in the cloud - are problematic because of their closed ecosystem. Integrations with typical PMS platforms are clunky, expensive and time-consuming which is ultimately holding the industry back and creating a cumbersome experience for the guest. For this reason, Apaleo was created to be a property management platform that offers reservation, inventory and payment technology, but also acts as an open ecosystem to host innovative brands and their apps.

“Our idea is that hotel groups should be totally free to put their tech stacks together how they want,” Pillau explained. “Hoteliers can use one of the 200 apps in our marketplace or they can develop their own.”

According to Pillau, the future of the guest experience is digital. Apaleo is already seeing multiple brands using its platform to completely digitize the guest journey while on property and the feedback seems to be quite positive with guests “loving it.” But it’s not just the guest experience that is driving this digital experience. With rising employment costs and an overall lack of staff within the industry, hoteliers won’t have much choice in the future, predicts Pillau.

“In Germany we saw 800,000 people leave the hospitality industry during COVID and they haven’t returned, and this is the same thing we’re seeing around the world. So hoteliers will either have to go digital and become more efficient or they’ll have to sell the business.”


Hotel revenue management company Duetto was showcasing a new product at HITEC 2023 called Advance. The product enables hotel revenue teams to optimize rates in real-time using events-related intelligence data from PredictHQ as well as travel data from Expedia. Advance relies on artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze millions of data points, draw conclusions, and then optimize pricing based on market signals.

As Duetto looks to the future, one of the industry challenges it sees hoteliers trying to tackle is the concept of total profitability. 

“We’re helping clients take steps towards total profitability in many ways, such as what is your total cost of acquisition - not just for OTAs - but how much it costs for each channel and then incorporating that into a revenue strategy,” said Debra Wolman, Group Vice President, Americas. “We’re also integrating with companies such as Oaky to help hoteliers with their upsell technology and improve their profitability as well as working with hoteliers to learn how to price ancillaries such as parking spots, pool cabanas, etc.”

Duetto will also continue to fine tune its use of AI in the near future.

“We’ll continue to innovate using AI in a way that is relevant for hoteliers,” Wolman added. “We’re focused on context and explainability. AI is great, but as it gets more sophisticated it becomes harder to explain to a hotelier why their room nights are priced the way they are because it's based on super complex AI algorithms. So, we’re going to be working hard to maintain context and explainability for our clients.”


According to Andre Smith, co-founder and CEO, Holoconnects’ mission is to evolve the way humans connect, engage and communicate using the power of holographic technology. Imagine this: A guest steps into a hotel, a sensor notices their presence and a life-sized hologram appears that provides a pre-recorded welcome. The guest is then presented with some buttons on a touchscreen. Some of the buttons may offer additional pre-recorded messages while others may allow the guest to speak with a live employee. The employee would stand in front of a camera and would instantly appear as a hologram within the holobox and could interact with the guest the same way as if they were in person at the front desk.

And while some hotels may choose to replace staff with this technology, Smith knows that other hotels are using it more as a staff enhancement – an extra employee on site to help alleviate some of the burden from front desk staff during the busy season, or to help out when a staff member calls in sick, or during night shifts when it’s harder to find employees to work those late hours. Ideally, the employee would actually be working in person, just at another property. And the hologram technology would allow them to step in and help out without having to be physically present. 

“Early feedback on the Holoboxes has been great -  with tech-savvy guests, business travelers, and those under 40 really liking the technology and gravitating to it,” Smith notes. “When smartphones came out, older consumers took longer to adopt the technology but eventually did, and now love it. We feel the same thing will happen here as well.”


Started in 2012, HotelIQ was one of the first business intelligence companies created specifically for the hospitality industry and to democratize data for hoteliers. For example, it offers an AI/machine learning functionality that offers predictive modeling (specifically for forecasting and budgeting). During HITEC, the company was showcasing its account management dashboard which aggregates all of the agencies a hotel uses to bring on business and creates a scatter plot to show which agencies are giving large quantities of businesses and growing, or large quantities of business and declining, etc. 

“All of a sudden, your top performers really stand out and hoteliers can easily tell where they need to focus their attention,” explained Sameer Umar, COO. “If hoteliers click on that agency, they’ll be able to see data broken down by booking channel, business mix, geographic mix, etc. which is powerful and helpful.”

When asked what the future holds, Umar believes technology will provide hoteliers with access to more meaningful predictions and actionable items as it heads toward prescriptive intelligence. But he also couldn’t resist commenting on generative AI.

“Everyone is talking about ChatGPT, there’s a fear in the industry about what AI can do,” he added. “We’ve all seen the Terminator movies and there’s some panic among consumers. But in all honesty, we’re ages away from that happening. We haven’t reached that level of sophistication. Instead what the industry should be focused on is: How do you leverage that AI in a more meaningful way with the data that is already available to you? Forget about it replacing jobs, that’s unlikely to happen. But it will help create efficiencies.”


During HITEC 2023, LG debuted the first set of guestroom TVs to feature Apple AirPlay technology. Hotel guests will connect their iPhone or iPad securely to a LG smart hotel TV by simply scanning a unique QR code. With no logins or passwords to remember and no separate app to download, this is a simple way for a hotel to enable guests to access their personal entertainment apps and accounts on the big screen in their room. Additionally, the company had very high interest from visitors regarding its integration with Amazon Alexa to create a voice-activated smart room that allows guests to close the drapes, turn off the lights, and order room service via the IoT device. 

Visitors to LG’s booth were also interested in learning more about the company’s foray into robotics with CLOi ServeBot

“CLOi is not intended to replace servers, but really it's meant to assist wait staff,” explained John Taylor, Senior Vice President, Public Affairs at LG Electronics USA. “It’s great for conferences and banquets where there are a lot of trays of food and dishes that need to be carried.

The company also showed off an EV charger that uses a 55-inch high-brightness outdoor display for advertising purposes. 

“We feel this will be an ongoing revenue stream for hoteliers as the number of electric vehicles continues to increase,” Taylor added. “Not only could the displays advertise amenities that the hotel has to offer and drive traffic to the hotel, but it could be used to advertise national brands and the hotel would get paid for hosting that advertisement on their EV chargers. It really got a lot of attention at the show.”


Property management system Solonis celebrated its first anniversary at HITEC 2023. The company, a direct descendant from RMS North America - a global cloud-based reservation system - was created to fulfill a need for a more modern, streamlined PMS that still provided all of the features, support, training and services that legacy PMS systems provide. 

In particular, Solonis knows that hoteliers might have access to large amounts of data, but they’re unable to make sense of it. The company was built to help solve that problem and specifically works with clients to ensure they’re accessing and utilizing their data in a way that makes sense.

“By year’s end, we’ll be launching an incredible integration with a data visualization platform that will display relevant data in preset templates based on the user’s role at the hotel,” said Adelle Rodriguez, Senior Director of Marketing, Solonis.

When asked about her thoughts on AI and the future of the hospitality industry, Rodriguez said she believes it can be a great tool to help hoteliers run their properties more efficiently. 

“Many hotels can’t afford a social media  marketing manager, and there are AI tools out there that can lend a helping hand in that department,” she notes. “I’m really excited to see how hotel’s adopt AI and begin to use it in a lot of fun, unique ways.”


Thynk, a provider of hotel CRM powered by Salesforce, is on a mission to Re:Thynk the hospitality landscape. Thynk says it has created a hospitality vertical-specific solution that seamlessly integrates with a property's PMS, POS, and other essential systems.

“Salesforce wanted to verticalize hospitality on their platform, and they approached Thynk to do that,” said Joel Pyser, CEO, Americas of Thynk. “We’ve built a hospitality vertical-specific platform that uses Salesforce as the foundation—which we then integrate with a property’s PMS, POS, etc.”

Traditionally, hotels use siloed platforms with analysts and revenue managers leveraging the information, leaving the day-to-day staff without access to valuable data. Thynk bridges this gap by putting data at the fingertips of hotel employees, empowering them with essential analytics to understand guest patterns and corporate accounts better.

When discussing the future of hospitality technology, Thynk emphasized the importance of modernizing hotel workforce tools. The new generation of employees is tech-savvy and accustomed to contemporary technology. By adopting high-tech solutions, hotel brands can create an environment that appeals to these younger employees, promoting ease of work and productivity.

The benefits of advanced technology are manifold for hotel brands. Firstly, onboarding and training new hires become more efficient, reducing the time and resources spent on outdated technology. This, in turn, aids in employee retention, as staff members appreciate the freedom from manual processes, allowing them to focus on what matters most - providing exceptional guest experiences.

“Of course, AI only works well when it’s fed quality data,” Pyser said. “And at this point, very few - if any - hotels have quality data. Quality data means centralized, clean and actionable data. So before implementing AI, hoteliers really need to figure out how to consolidate and clean up their data.”


This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds