Last week, ParkMaven’s Business Development team descended upon the ExCeL Centre for Hotel & Spa Tech Live.
Since bursting onto the B2B software scene, partnerships with hoteliers quickly drew our attention to the potential value we could realise from idle assets in this sector. Parking is often overlooked in the hospitality industry: it’s an altogether less luxurious offering than premium rooms in exotic destinations. The silver lining for hotel managers is that this untapped source of revenue can boost the figures on your bottom line.
Over the 25th and 26th September at ExCeL London, Hotel Tech Live laid on a rich programme of keynote talks and panel debates, as well as networking opportunities and immersive product demonstrations. Read on for our roundup of the highlights…
Rob Paterson opened the keynote theatre programme by pushing an emerging debate: is the hotel franchise model becoming a technology model? The CEO of Best Western Hotels explained that modern guests visit for the experience - not a trusted brand, particular facilities or décor.
Airbnb has spearheaded the remodelling of guest attitudes with success in their unconventional sharing economy model. Homestays provide unusual insight into a neighbourhood, with hosts’ honesty and fair pricing motivated by competition for high star ratings. It’s time for hotel companies to embrace this new attitude, celebrating individuality and streamlining operations with smart tech. Many hoteliers understand that technology is a key facilitator for exceptional customer experiences, but it’s not easy to keep up. The proliferation of software solutions is as baffling as it is helpful.
As the speed of change overwhelms so many franchise managers, Best Western responded by developing custom technology for members, including an EMS, revenue management and marketing tools. Hotel owners want freedom and creativity instead of hard brand assets; but they can’t manage without technology. Paterson implies that Best Western is evolving from a hotel chain to a tech company. We can’t help but agree that a SaaS approach to property management is the way forward. ParkMaven helps operators maximise value of existing assets, whilst freeing up hours wasted on manual processes to focus on delivering value to drivers.
Joanna Becker-Birck, WorldHotels’ Senior Manager of Marketing Strategy, urged the audience to “start with why”. A clearly defined guest experience results in a stay that’s memorable for the right reasons, and hotels that pull this off are rewarded with unwavering customer loyalty. Becker-Birck took audience members on a visual tour of Rochester, Michigan, to illustrate the power of the Royal Park Hotel’s commitment to ‘start with why’.
The Royal Park Hotel champions local luxury. Guests are incentivised to visit family businesses in the town and discover the story behind homegrown specialities. Royal Park Hotel staff are rewarded for taking opportunities to demonstrate their passion and purpose, which are often sparked by guests’ questions about the significance of eye-catching ‘Y’-shaped pins worn on their uniform lapels.
After learning about the Royal Park Hotel’s ‘why’ philosophy, the Mavens were left puzzling over the ways we could apply the same concept to our parking services. It’s hard to make parking a treat when most consider it a chore. We’re committed to making parking painless for drivers and car park operators alike. Head of Sales Andy commutes from Kent to London each day, and CEO Harrison Woods was inspired by parking price problems as a student in Liverpool. We reckon our ‘why’ is to build the solutions we dream of as drivers ourselves.
Michael Mrini won over AI sceptics with an introduction to his hotel chain’s charming virtual host, Edward. As Director of IT at Edwardian Hotels, Mrini is dedicated to enhancing the guest experience through sophisticated technology and AI. The Edwardian group exemplifies use of AI to complement a highly personalised service: a goal that resonates strongly with the ParkMaven team.
Edward the e-concierge is so charismatically personable that most guests believe the voice behind their text messages is a real person. But Edward’s not just a cost-efficient replacement for salaried staff: he collects data which is distributed to relevant departments. Thanks to Edward, the real chef knows to decorate a plate with a birthday message, and the real housekeeper knows to add an extra bathrobe every time the guest returns to an Edwardian hotel. We’re proud of the live customer happiness team behind ParkMaven, and found ourselves agreeing that technology should simply add polish to the overall client experience.
Throughout the event, our roving Head of Content Lydia Woodward accosted stand reps with quickfire questions about particularly curious tech solutions. One theme that quickly emerged was the importance of enhancing human relationships through technology, rather than replacing the warmth of interpersonal contact with cold, hard computing.
SoftBank Robotics’ Pepper performs simple, repetitive tasks with a cheerful expression that would eventually wane on the perkiest receptionist. This humanoid robot engages with guests in a unique, empathetic and entertaining manner. He enriches the customer experience whilst freeing up employees to deal with more complex enquiries.
TRILYO’s AI-powered virtual assistant serves a similar purpose: to assist, never to detract. Potential customers browsing TRILYO-supported hotel sites can interact with the assistant via a chat window to access tailored offers, recommendations and answers to FAQs. Every stage of the customer journey from booking to feedback can be conducted through one conversation. It’s friendly, seamless and personal: much more so than typical online transactions.
ParkMaven’s presence was bolstered by our partners at UK Car Park Management, who seized the event as an opportunity to introduce their Book-a-Space service. If that sounds familiar, there’s a good reason – ParkMaven’s Booking Button powers this new UKCPM service.
Branching out from enforcement and management services, Book-a-Space adds further value to the client by allowing them to advertise their surplus parking to an audience of motorists online. Drivers reserve convenient, guaranteed parking spaces at affordable rates, with the tap of a button.
One highlight was the result of a chance meeting with 36 Zero director, Mark Kirkham. 36 Zero produce fully interactive virtual tours from 360-degree images of your chosen space – whether that’s a hotel, venue or ParkMaven’s expo stand. Kirkham believes strongly in the value of ‘sticky content’: immersive, engaging media that holds visitors’ attention and draws them back to your website again and again.
Sad to miss out on this year’s Hotel Tech, or keen to relive your visit? Thanks to the wonders of VR technology, you can. See our stand in 3D here, featuring the winning smiles of our reps and the resplendent greenery of the company’s signature ‘expo carpet’ in their original glory.
Want to go one step further and experiment with ParkMaven’s software, too? Head to ParkMaven.com for a no-strings free trial – there’s no need to wait for Hotel Tech 2019.