The month when things went crazy! Testbed Vegas – March ’20.

Woman reading on a lounge chair

How things change in a matter of a month. Massive industry upheaval and the world in a state of panic due to the outbreak and cross border pollination of the CoronaVirus. With the desperate grab for toilet paper happening around the world perhaps it’s a good thing that occupancy is down in hotels!

Trade shows and events have been cancelled around the world and specific to our own industry, ITB in Berlin and HFTP in Europe have been cancelled for the year. What we know at the end of the second month of the new decade is that 2020 will not end the way it started for industry. Our industry will have some challenging times ahead and hopefully in the second half of the year, return to a level of normality.

With the desperate grab for toilet paper happening around the world perhaps it’s a good thing that occupancy is down in hotels!

Testbed Vegas

This month we take a look at the return of Vegas Travel & Hospitality Tech, MURTEC in Las Vegas, dive into F&B trends, more OYO, The Las Vegas beat, Uberflying, Expedia, Google & Tripadvisor, Davos’ tech predictions and the oldest company’s in the world. And of course your get away from the office idea!

The show must go on!

Vegas Travel & Hospitality Tech reconvenes

We took a little hiatus after the Hospitality Technology Hacks & Pundits CES Dinner and CES. We had indicated it took some stamina!

Now with renewed vigor Testbed Vegas commences the VTHT season of events with a dive into the world of Food & Beverage technology on the 31st of March.

Vegas Travel & Hospitality Tech

To say that we are excited about the possibilities and prospects in this part of hospitality would be an understatement. It’s our solid view that the industry is about to have a revolution throughout their business environment. We’re talking about it and putting the smart people in Las Vegas on the Green Lounge to give you the lowdown.

Testbed Vegas and our sponsors, TRAVHOTECH, Farestar, hiGuard, and Desert Wind Coffee Roasters will provide the food and beverage. The Las Vegas industry leaders will talk the techtalk. Join the community for what has come to be anticipated as a high standard evening.

MURTEC – Talking enterprise F&B Tech in Las Vegas

Testbed Vegas and sister company TRAVHOTECH are excited to be heading to MURTEC next week at Paris Las Vegas. MURTEC, in it’s 25th year, assembles the Multi-unit Restaurant operations and technology crowd to discuss the current and future opportunities brought to light through technology.


EnsembleIQ whose other publications and forums include Hospitality Technology, Restaurant Technology Network convene the event and we are looking forward to participating.

Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals (HFTP) Las Vegas chapter and the International Food & Beverage Technology Association (IFBTA) will celebrate technology on Tuesday evening at Beer Park at Paris.

The dirty Boulevard

Las Vegas Strip

And if there wasn’t enough happening in January, February brought even more bombshells in the gaming industry. MGM Resorts CEO, Jim Murren announced that he will be departing the company. Jim’s tenure has been long and the company has gone through a number of major events over that time. In 2008 the company was 30 minutes away from going out of business. 12 years later they look to grow around the world.

MGM Resorts also announced a data breach stemming back to 2019 where 10M guest data records were impacted. More than likely MGM Resorts will be exposed GDPR and California Data Privacy Act penalties as the investigation unfolds.


All of the US Gaming operators were impacted heavily when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) closed borders and limited travel across the nation and specifically Macau in an effort to limit the spread.

The Caesars-Eldorado merger moves ever closer with most of the state approvals granted to allow the amalgamation to take place. It is expected that there will be sale of further Las Vegas and company properties on top of the sale of Rio and Harrah’s Reno announced earlier.

Word on the street is that there have been mass cancellations up and down Las Vegas Boulevard as impacted by the spread of the CoronaVirus. the MGM Grand had lost all of their short term volume group business at the end of February.

Food, Restaurant, Revenue, Blockchain and 3rd Party delivery

Image result for 3rd party restaurant delivery

So much to talk about in the Food & Beverage technology scene. We’ve decided to dedicate the next Vegas Travel & Hospitalty Tech to the topic.

In the meantime, Blockchain as a technology has the potential for major benefits in supply chain technology and none moreso than food. Consider the possibility of food tracking, grower, history and logistics and tracking back to production location. even shorter shelf life of fresher food and elimination of levels of logistics through local production. Remember the Greenhouse from CES?

3rd party delivery in restaurants has taken off, although operators have found that the cost of service is proving to be unprofitable. Some operators have ceased the service due to quality issues and the cost impact. There’s no doubting that the customer enjoys the convenience, but how will the industry match quality and profitability for the service moving forwards?

And yet the restaurant industry is on a growth phase in North America. The industry is forecast to deliver almost 900B USD in revenue in 2020. A number of key trends are emerging and technology will be key to the future of the industry sector.


There are always two sides to every story. With so much attention from industry on the plight of OYO and the SoftBank relationship, OYO’s CEO Ritesh Agarwal responded to media scrutiny. In an interview he discussed the basis of their approach and some of the short term shifts in strategy that have been made, including reigning in the speed of growth and focusing on core operational theaters and platforms, before continuing to scale. No doubt this will be news well received from organisations and people with a direct relationship to the company.

OYO Logo

OYO’s remarkable growth had taken place in what is a largely uncontested marketplace with lower end accommodation. A related article from Skift discusses OYO and it’s growth in relation to the home market of India, which puts into perspective some of the behavior of the company.

Dust in the Distribution system

Google’s focus on hotel and airline search means that the dust is still settling among the OTA and Metasearch players.

Image result for OTAs

This month Google made some concessions on the presentation of search results for hotel search based upon agitation from the OTA community and undoubtedly in deference to potential anti competitive practices in the EU. Although it really is hard to dispute that the master of presentation of information has simply streeted the field with their updated presentation models.

Barry Diller has continued scrutiny of the Expedia business post the boardroom disagreement with Mark Okerstrom, the departed CEO. Diller suggested that the culture and work ethic of the company required some attention, which must have sent shivers through the company workforce. Layoffs continue as they realign the company and operation.

Tripadvisor is also feeling the pain of the Google play with revenue substantially reduced and a number of staff layoffs as a result. The company is looking to regain equilibrium in the new operating climate with question on the future viability of the company and a return to focus on reviews.

Some of the oldest businesses in the world are hospitality companies

Giving rise to the reality that sustenance is essential for human life and great civilizations thrive based upon higher quality sustenance, it there fore makes sense that many of the oldest company’s in the world are involved in the hospitality and travel industry.

Info graphic - oldest company by country

In a fascinating info graphic you can track by country the oldest business house in a location. Transport, Post and Banks feature heavily. But an overwhelming number of countries list a food and beverage company as the oldest house of business. An army moves on it’s stomach. Perhaps the world too.

In Europe a restaurant, inn and a winery represent the oldest businesses. A chicken restaurant in China reaching back as far as 1000 AD. In fact in the top 10 oldest business houses, five are from the hospitality sector.

Uber, Uber and Away with Uber Air!

A flying vehicle sketched above a city skyline

As we saw at CES and has been in industry news for around a year, Uber is moving in to air services. There are three target cities for trial of the service and one of them is Melbourne, Australia. Initially Uber plans to offer air taxi services via Helicopter for airport transit runs, with a mid term plan to provide rooftop drone services of the like of the vehicles seen at CES this year.

The ABC in Australia takes a deeper look in to plans for the service and examines some of the municipal and logistical challenges involved in bringing the service to life.

Techfuture from Davos

Intercontinental Davos

The business glitterati were somewhat quieter this year than in the past and the Davos World Economic Forum seemed to slip by with little media attention. This may have been due to what was developing in China.

Regardless of the level of coverage in main stream media, with the participation of MIT, Davos made some predictions for the future of technology over the next ten years. Business and one of the leading Tech research and education establishments demands a level of attention.

Get your Glamp on

This month we wanted to plant the idea of getting away to something other than a hotel room. What about Glamping? The term given to camping in an upmarket way. First pioneered in Africa around the Safari experience the luxury camping model has spread around the world driven by such leading luxury brands as Oberoi and Amanresorts.

At CES this year we discovered a new concept of Bubble Tents. Inflatable climate controlled environments that can be established in ‘Pop-up’ mode and removed for a short term or seasonal approach on camping. We liked what we saw!

Bubbletent from BubbleTree

Upheaval would be the footnote for our industry at the end of February 2020. It looks quite certain that this scenario will continue on for at least two more months with major events like the Olympics questioning their viability. More fallout is to come.

In the meantime look after yourselves and try to find the good in the situation. We will look forward to seeing you at the end of the month at Vegas Travel & Hospitality Tech. Hopefully we have a general improvement on a global scale.

Knowledge is no weight to carry!