A list of the top five activities to do while at the HITEC Amsterdam hospitality technology conference.

Top 5 Must-Do’s While at HITEC Amsterdam

The hospitality technology landscape is vastly different from the 1972 inception (many years before the first hotel Property Management System) of The Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition and Conference (HITEC), a now global conference that exhibits the latest innovations in hospitality technology. Until 2017, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) has presented this leading hospitality conference in cities across the United States. Last year, the inaugural internationally-hosted HITEC event took place in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

As an innovative leader in hospitality technology and recent winner of the HTNG TechOvation Award, Beekeeper joins the conference this year to share the latest product updates to our team communication app. Stop by Booth 132 to learn more about how Beekeeper is connecting hospitality workforces everywhere across departments and locations with mobile-first digital communication tools.

Digital Hospitality Technology is ‘The New Normal’

This year, the second annual HITEC Amsterdam is being held April 11–13 at RAI Amsterdam Convention Centre. While online booking systems long ago replaced manual hotel ledgers, opening keynote speaker Nancy Rademaker’s presentation emphasizes the increasingly vital role digital internal communications play in the hospitality industry, and that hoteliers should not underestimate their impact on hotel business revenue.

In “Extreme Customer Centricity in a Networked World,” Rademaker stresses how our hyper-connected digital world has shaped consumer behavior, and how the hospitality industry must prioritize digital internal communications within their hotel workforce to meet the demands of and remain profitable in this digitally-driven market—wherein digital communication tools are the catalyst “to give customers what they want in a warm and human manner.”

Never been to the Netherlands? Not to worry: We’re here to share pre-and-post-HITEC conference ways to network, unwind, and enjoy the best of what Amsterdam has to offer!

1. Best Caffeine Fix: Bocca Coffee

Though weekends can be busy, Amsterdam locals describe the “amazing vibe and service” of centrally-located local spot Bocca Coffee as a “nice and spacious location to chill out.” Beekeeper insider buzz says it’s the place to enjoy the taste of truly exceptional coffee. Get an energy boost before the conference whirlwind begins, or think of it as a caffeinated HITEC networking alternative to the bar.

2. Contracts over Cocktails: Tales and Spirits

Boasting cocktails such as Bartender’s Ketchup and El Tango, and a bar bites menu with eclectic offerings such as oysters, truffle risotto, and ebi katsu, Tales and Spirits serves up intimate class in spades. Though on the smaller side, Tales and Spirits is perfect for a 1:1 meeting with any new leads you discover while at HITEC.

Insider tip: while there’s no dress code per se, house rules suggest you “dress to impress,” and to check in first with the hostess if your group is over six people, as they seat parties over six at their discretion.

3. Finger Food: Everything On A Stick

With a playfully self-explanatory name, food here is served up (you guessed it) on a skewer. With an equally fun philosophy, “Sharing is Caring,” Everything On A Stick’s menu is designed for the social interaction shared dining facilitates. Beekeeper insiders share that: “The exciting part is you are naturally curious how they manage to get certain foods on a stick!” If you prefer your food on-the-go, check out their website to track down their food truck.

4. Amsterdam’s Ultimate Walking Tour: FreeDam Tours

Led by locals (marked by their traffic-light-yellow umbrellas) this is said to be the most comprehensive walking tour available in Amsterdam––and, incredibly, is free for individuals and groups up to six people (though tipping your guide for an amazing experience is highly encouraged). The tour kicks off at Old Church (or ‘Oude Kerk’ in Dutch) covering Dutch cultural history, modern lifestyle, and personal anecdotes. This is a tour you simply can’t get anywhere else.

5. HITEC After Hours: The Heineken Experience

The Heineken Experience is the official tour of the first Heineken brewery, built in the heart of Amsterdam. Due to high demand, this original site closed in 1988, but is still active daily with 1.5 hour tours, available 365 days a year. There are three different tickets: Standard, VIP, and a combo ticket which includes the Heineken tour, a canal boat cruise with a tour guide, and also access to an epic 360 degree view of the city via the A’DAM LOOKOUT, located on top of the A’DAM Tower in North Amsterdam. Naturally, all tours end with two complimentary signature green bottles of the Dutch lager beer.

Want to learn more about how to elevate the guest experience and employee engagement with Beekeeper? Sign up for a complimentary consultation with Connie Rheams, Global Head of Hospitality at Beekeeper, during HITEC at Booth 132.

Guest using chatbots on a mobile app to check in on a mobile device.

Chatbots Simplify Hotel Operations and Transform Guest Experience

It may sound like something out of an episode of The Jetson’s but AI (yes, this includes actual robot assistants, like The Jetson’s beloved Rosie), particularly in the form of chatbots, is making frequent appearances in the hospitality industry. The goal? To improve the guest experience through more efficient internal communication with digital workforce solutions.

This year’s AAHOA Annual Conference takes note of this growing hospitality trend with a seminar, “Technology To Improve Housekeeping and Maintenance Efficiency,” featuring Dorothy Creamer, Editor, Hospitality Technology; Micah Green, Founder, Maidbot; David Mitroff, Founder and CBC, Piedmont Avenue Consulting; and Raman Rama, President, Sarona Holdings. The seminar focuses on how hotel owners can leverage the latest digital workforce products and services to simplify and improve hotel operations to enhance the guest experience and ultimately drive occupancy rates.

How Digital Communication Tools Help Increase Bookings

According to a study of travel review sites conducted by Christopher Andersen, Ph.D, Assistant Professor at the Cornell School for Hotel Administration, higher occupancy rates are directly linked to how high a hotel’s reviews and ratings are. Specifically, the study analyzed Travelocity data that demonstrated that if a property increases its review scores by 1 point on a 5-point scale, the hotel can raise rates and still maintain the same occupancy.

Notably, Anderson’s findings point to social media as a powerful ally when it comes to consumer booking habits and to making sure a curious browser goes through with booking a room in your hotel. More broadly, these findings reflect an equally important insight: the way we navigate and complete much of the tasks in our personal and professional daily lives revolves around digital technology and informs our expectations of consumer experiences.

Exterior of a hotel showing four stars.

Fast Mobile Search Experiences Matter

The access to and ease-of-use of digital technology, particularly when it comes to mobile devices, affects purchase follow-through. A 2017 Think with Google study showed that if a website takes longer than three seconds to load, 53% of consumers will leave the site and conversion is lost. Put simply, with the vast, instant access to information digital technology provides, consumers aren’t afraid to take the time to compare lodging options—otherwise known as ‘shopping around’—and are using consumer opinions to inform their transactions.

AI and Chatbots: Partners in Providing an Exceptional Guest Experience

Far from worrying about frontline workforce replacement, those working in the hospitality industry should view AI, especially chatbots, as valuable communication tools that can boost productivity and enable frontline employees to focus on their primary priority: an exceptional guest experience.

A hotel’s consumer ratings and reviews will always reflect guest experiences, for better or for worse. The benefits of AI assistance in the form of chatbots are two-fold for your digital workforce, and have far-reaching, positive implications for the hospitality industry. Increased service efficiency means better delivery of a memorable guest experience, leading to brand loyalty and thus greater occupancy rates.

Here are some of the major hospitality service areas that impact the guest experience that can directly benefit from chatbots and AI automated operations using digital workforce communication tools. For example, your hotel can implement a custom mobile app that guests can download to enhance their stay in relationship to the following hospitality experiences:

  • Room service: Chatbots can virtually take the in-room orders of guests. Chatbots can be programmed to ask a variety of detailed questions to ensure your guests get exactly what they need (like specific condiments on their sandwich, or extra ice in their water) and can even schedule delivery.
  • Guest check-in and check-out: One of the most useful applications of a chatbot is as a virtual booking agent. Chatbots can send reminders to guests regarding the details of their stay, such as check-in and check-out times, and augment them if necessary based on guest requests (for example, extra pillows or special food or beverage items to be in-room upon arrival).
  • Maintenance requests: When a guest encounters an in-room issue, such as a burned-out light bulb or a broken appliance, chatbots can field guest issue reporting so repairs can be made quickly.
  • Special requests: From wake-up calls, “do not disturb” notifications, or delivery of extra towels or toiletries, chatbots can handle instantaneous communication of many of the most common guest requests. Instead of picking up the phone and calling the front desk, guests submit requests with one click using the mobile app. Hospitality teams receive automated notifications of these requests directly, and can complete them more quickly and efficiently.
  • Concierge services: Think of a chatbot as a 24/7 virtual local guide to the best food and entertainment options in the area, including on-premise dining and events. Chatbots can be set with the day or week’s latest events and promotions. Best of all, with your hotel app, guests can consult the chatbot concierge at their convenience, whether in their hotel room or on-the-go.

Screen shot of a hotel guest reporting a maintenance issue on a mobile device.

This is all good news for the hotel industry, which is already uniquely profitable and, according to hospitality experts, is poised to experience even higher occupancy rates in 2018. Loyal customers will continue to patronize a hotel property even when rates increase because they are loyal to the guest experience you have created.

With the help of chatbots and a digital workforce app like Beekeeper, guest services that previously commanded substantial staff time and energy can be automated. When tasks like these are delegated to digital technology, your workforce is free to assist with more complex guest needs and requests that require face-to-face interactions.

To see how chatbots and AI can increase hospitality revenue, download our white paper, “Digitization of the Non-desk Workforce.”