Is it safe to go outside? Testbed Vegas – July ’20

Testbed Vegas - Hospitality Travel News

The beginning of a return to industry. Gradually around the world travel & hospitality business began to reopen, albeit at a reduced scale of operations. Less guests and passengers, more masks, more temperature checking and by the end of the month, more cases of Corona Virus transmission.

Less than 10% of the estimated $4trn in annual global IT spending has so far migrated to the cloud….. “the overwhelming majority” of computing is going to end up there one day. A company focused entirely on making that happen could become vast.

The Economist – Can Amazon keep growing like a startup?

Unfortunately the rate of transmission shows no sign of abating. Particularly in the USA, South America and the sub-continent. Leading countries who had handled transmission prevention well also experienced a rebirth of the virus. It appears that the virus will not be ‘magically disappearing’ anytime soon. Business will need to develop methods of operation to cater for heightened transmission scenarios in the longer term.

At a macro level the World Economic Forum provided a forecast on the future of technology and the major changes they foresee in a tech driven world. Skift continued to adjust their travel recovery index, which points to a prolonged timeline for recovery of the travel industry at large.

On the back of the cruise industry situation The Guardian took a big picture view of the future of sustainable travel. In a thoughtful and far reaching article they examine the future of the industry and ask many hard questions that are central to a sustainable future.

This month with a level of operation taking place in the travel & hospitality industry the news slowly migrated away from COVID19 to broader topics. We examine the food truck industry, catch up on the reopening of Las Vegas, learn about listening lights, tech based remote ordering at the bar and COVID19 surcharges, Hilton layoffs and Oracle’s interface platform, subscription based travel, space tourism, Amazon, micro-mobility and then to Italy.


Testbed Vegas Food Truck Where's the foodtruck

Catchy right? WTF stands for not quite what you were initially thinking.

Where’s The Foodtruck is a tech startup founded by fellow Las Vegan, Nicholas Spindel. As it happens the pandemic has invigorated attention to the Food Truck industry. Why? No need to dine in when you are providing your custom to a mobile kitchen.

Where’s the Foodtruck is designed to be the go to app to find your food truck food fix in the USA. The platform serves Food Truck vendors to provide their wares and most importantly, location and allow the customer to interact with the food truck vendor across the app.

Having been established and growing their market presence WTF is now seeking initial investments.

Testbed Vegas supports the growing Las Vegas travel & hospitality tech community of which Where’s The Food Truck is a great example of the possibilities. Sister company’s TRAVHOTECH & FOODnBEVTECH have been pleased to provide assistance on WTF’s journey.

You can meet Nick and hear more about his story at Testbed Vegas’ Vegas Travel & Hospitality Tech on July 28th at Desert Wind Coffee Roasters.

What’s your new technology normal?

The Dirty Boulevard

As Las Vegas is now back in action Testbed Vegas is retiring the Desert-ed Boulevard headline to return to our Lou Reed moniker. Vegas is back in action in a reduced capacity with several resorts opening early in the month and a gradual escalation in the ensuing weeks.

Testbed Vegas Las Vegas The Strip

It’s clear that people missed their Vegas and needed it with strong custom returning almost immediately to the city. Hundreds waiting outside the doors at 3.00am in the morning on opening day. Should Las Vegas be open? Some have questioned the viability of attracting visitors back to the city. As the city opened and staff returned to work the Las Vegas Culinary Union challenged conditions for the return to work of their members.

The big news this month was the approval of Cashless Gaming for Nevada. Why is this major? No more getting up to see the cashier or draw more money from the ATM. It’s now possible to top up electronically at the table or the machine. A win for the gaming industry. A loss for those advocating against problem gambling. There will be more to come on this story. In other customer oriented news a local Las Vegas restaurant launched a loyalty program using crypto currency.

Construction continues in the city with Resorts World reaching a point where they are ready to review a level of completion in certain parts of the building. Allegiant Stadium progresses focused on a timeline for the start of the NFL season. However The Drew project has stalled based upon funding with many of the leadership departing the project.

The Las Vegas Convention Center extension continues building toward their grand reveal at CES 2021 in January. Las Vegas is currently the number one events destination in North America, which has a lessened import in the middle of a pandemic. This video provides a sense of the finished product that will include the largest pillar-less exhibition space in North America. Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s tunnel boring project which began with the convention center, announced potential extensions to the airport and other Las Vegas destinations. Hooray!

What if? A number of planned projects did not come to fruition in Las Vegas. This article shows how Las Vegas might have looked if they came to pass.

Although not formally from Las Vegas, Cirque du Soleil, the global circus and performance company has an out sized presence with multiple productions housed in Las Vegas. This month the company filed for bankruptcy. They have not been able to perform since the beginning of the pandemic. We’re sure they will be back, at least in Las Vegas with so much infrastructure invested in their show spaces by gaming resorts.

By the end of the month the casino company’s required guests to don face masks as the virus spread grew rapidly in the bordering states of Utah, Arizona and California following reopening of businesses.

higuard hospitality technology information security

Why does the FBI identify Hospitality as a high value target?

Let there be hearing light!

Just when you thought you understood the breadth of data theft and hacking along comes another method. The term ‘only in the movies’ comes to mind when hearing of a way to listen to conversation through a light bulb! The vibration of the light based upon voice tones can be interpreted. From a distance! More in this article.

As the workforce has left the building for the more COVID safe environs of the home office, an unwanted result of the move is an increased exposure to information security threats for organisations. The home office environment is not always equipped to the level of security as what might be found in the office.

It’s your remote round!

Next time you are at the pub or bar with a group of friends and it’s your round you may not have to leave your seat. Driven through an intent to lower interaction in Pubs in England, new tech from industry colleague Jason Jeffreys, founder of Iris, is emerging for patrons to be able to order and pay for a round of drinks from an app on their phone. No need to plead with the barman anymore!

As the brunt of the COVID19 fallout continues to effect the food & beverage industry it has been predicted that as many as 2.2 million restaurants & bars may ultimately close resulting from Corona Virus impacts. Continued attention has been focused on the food & beverage industry as a broken business model with suggestions for a more equitable structure in a renewed post pandemic industry.

In an effort to defray the impact of limited guests and operational costs some restaurants are levying a surcharge on diners based upon Corona Virus trading conditions.

Tstbed Vegas Foodnbevtech Bar

The Oracle of connections

Oracle Hospitality hosted a global week-long event focused on connecting to their products. The effort stemmed from global industry criticism on difficulties connecting to one of the most widely deployed software application in the hospitality industry. Oracle responded by taking major steps toward open interface protocols. Some vendor participants were able to develop their interface in the space of the week.

The launch is stage 1 of changes that will take place in 2020 that will expose as many as 3000 functions to other industry technology providers. A major step forward for both Oracle and the hospitality industry. You can review the sessions here.

Fallout from COVID19 continued with Hilton and Hyatt announcing layoffs from their corporate offices. In speaking with several industry colleagues around the world, sadly there are many professionals who have felt compelled to give up on hospitality in search of new careers. What’s great about hospitality professionals? Find out here.

Speaking of great hospitality people, Mike Blake of HTNG and Henri Roelings of HospitalityNET were announced as the HFTP Hall of Fame recipients for 2020. Normally the announcement would take place at HITEC in June. We will look forward to being able to recognize them in person when the postponed HITEC convenes in October. Congratulations gentlemen!

COVID19 has brought a new focus on the great outdoors, camping, glamping Recreational vehicles, Caravaning and road trips in general. Bookings have increased for camping and planning for road trips in the North American summer. Meanwhile South African conservation and eco-resort founder Luke Bailes discusses sustainability and post COVID recovery for Singita.

This month, industry hotel management company led Roomkey announced that it was scaling back operations. Roomkey was a distribution platform initiative launched and partnered by some of the largest hotel operator brands. Fascinating as to why the industry can’t agree to help itself, yet pay third parties large commissions. Particularly when all participate in electronic distribution on their brand platforms. In the meantime New York City following on from examples in Europe has demanded that AirBNB share data on their operations in the city. Good news for established hotel operators and a balance in the market place.

Testbed Vegas Foodnbevtech Restaurant

Can’t find the right tech for your restaurant?

Subscribed to travel

Earlier on in the pandemic Testbed Vegas mused on the viability of subscription based travel as a solution for restoring demand and setting a level of predictabilty in cost exposure for business travel.

Since that time the dialogue has continued and subscription based travel provider eDreams crossed the 500K subscriptions in the month of June. Global hotel operator, Marriott and other industry players are also looking at how they approach negotiated rate setting for corporate customers in a world where commerce and travel demand has changed massively as a result of the pandemic.

SkyHi managed a level of market penetration with their airfare based subscription model in the USA. The topic deserves a much deeper review and consideration. Perhaps there is room for a rolling subscription based business for travel in some layers of the market.

Lost in space

Given the challenges of the travel industry on Terra Firma at the moment, Space looks much more enticing as a travel destination. It became that much more reachable as SpaceX launched their successful commercial flight in June. If you have a spare $300K you can briefly go into orbit or for $9M stay in a space station for 6 nights. Oh my Stars!

Closer to Earth the World Tourism & Travel Council launched their global Safe Travels standards in collaboration with the airline and cruise industry. In similar COVID19 related news and initiatives contact less tech is making a big play in travel as the solution to some of the pandemic challenges. Facial recognition promises to provide solutions to the travel market with tech vendors proposing solutions for the important US-UK travel marketplace.

In an interesting shift Tripadvisor owned Viator announced a move toward quality over quantity for the tour aggregator platform. The tour platform giant will classify providers based upon the quality of their presence and reputation to provide a more valuable quality recommendation to their customers.

Jungles, Bikes and Payment

Testbed Vegas e-scooter

This month we reviewed a selection of bigger picture topics that are emerging in travel or have a major influence or impact on the travel & hospitality industry.

First we look at the role of Amazon. Today one of the most successful company’s in history with an increasing impact on the lives of many people in Western countries. The potential for a step in to travel retail has long been mooted. Although in the background the Amazon Web Services platform is already well penetrated into the travel & hospitality industries. Whether it be directly to industry operators or in an opaque way through industry tech suppliers Amazon underpins the travel experience. The Economist examines the current and future of Amazon and the possibility of a break up of the retail and tech giant.

E-bikes and scooters exploded on to the planet as a new form of short distance or last mile transportation. Travelers around the world can be found on scooters and bikes from Lisbon to Shanghai as an alternative to mass public transport. Through the Corona Virus and the practicalities of urban living and the environment the e-Bike promises to continue its expansion as a fundamental piece of the local transportation pie. Is there a symbiotic relationship between hotels and micro mobility in the future?

Payments in the travel & hospitality sector have long been problematic due to various layers or provider, timelines and advanced payments requirements. Because of these traditional needs the payment side of travel & hospitality has been a less information secure environment prone to hacking and credit card fraud. In such an environment many parties will benefit from an improvement to the payment ecosystem for the industry. Mastercard and Voxel Group are leading an across industry alliance to improve payment handling processes.

The Heel of the Boot

The latest travel news for those of us based in the United States is that we won’t be heading to Europe anytime soon. Accordingly, Testbed Vegas thought we’d give you a glimpse of the the region of Apuglia on the heel of the Boot of Italy. Something to look forward to when we can next have the opportunity for an international sojourn.

There we were thinking that Testbed Vegas could get the group together in June. All of a sudden The Rona reared it’s head again! Consequently we thought it was the smart move to postpone the Vegas Travel & Hospitality Tech March event again.

We are determined to get everyone together at the end of July and we have a very talented and experienced group of industry people to share their experience on technology for the food & beverage industry.

Make sure you are registered for Vegas Travel & Hospitality we can get the catering right!

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