What goes around comes around. October ’20.

Testbed Vegas what goes around comes around

We couldn’t think of a more apt title for this month’s update when considering that depending upon which part of the orb you are in its either round 2 or round 3 of the COVID plague coming to a town near you. In and among all that our global industry continues to strive for some type of restoration of normality against continued challenges. To think that we are still talking about this! And if you have been doing your reading, it looks like we will be for some time with projections that we will still be on topic in three years! It was interesting to note about travel passes as we had forecast in June.

In a glut of information, wisdom and experience matter most.

Curt Steinhorst

When looking back through some historical information sharing, we came across the quote, ‘In a glut of information, wisdom and experience matter most’. It is a quote that says so much but in essence differentiates between information and the background to leverage information. Curt Steinhorst presented on the topic in his keynote at the HFTP Annual Convention in October 2019. And now CyberHITEC 2020 takes its place instead of June! A number of digital events are coming up this week and you can read some of our thoughts on sessions to catch at these now digital shows.

What else?

A few things that caught our eye in big picture tech news. Does anyone like cold chips? It does not conjure up fond culinary reflection but in the world of tech ‘cold chips’ or cooled silicon chips are the difference between todays computing power and tomorrows in excess of Moore’s Law computing power. Cold Chips are great for faster computing. Speaking of cold, as winter is coming, so is Snowflake. If you’ve not heard Snowflake is one of the latest darlings of  the tech world as they provide BI in the cloud, making such capability available to the masses. IPO coming soon!

As of today, your friends at Testbed Vegas are still personally scribing our monthly contribution to the ever-growing body of internet-based data. We hope you feel it is of value. Soon we might be able to step away from the authors desk and pass it all on to an AI based Robot to do the writing for us. Authoring. So 20th century!

In relation to improving how we do things; we came across a valuable article about process mining. Another derived or modernized term designed to make people lots of moolah, but what it really means is that in business constant attention to improving the way you do things is key to success. It is what technology, and the management of technology is based upon. A great way to spend your efforts in the time of the plague if you have people around in a diminished workplace.

But first to some industry reading! This month the Vegas beat, Hotels and Airlines, Bot-clean rooms, tough times for restauranteurs, more momentum in subscription travel, food waste and food tracing.

Can’t get no satisfaction

Testbed Vegas Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong
The famous Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, China. (Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images)

Last month we lamented about the lack of friends for hoteliers in DC. This month others made a harder call that industry was getting the shaft by comparison to Airlines. Hard to argue on that based upon cash handouts to date.

In the meantime, the industry keeps on cleaning in the hope that guests will return. Much attention has been placed on improved hygiene for industry – we are not of the view there was a problem before – however the theatrics continue. In a meaningful development friends from Arizona based Cirq introduced the Cirqbot in Las Vegas this month. The Cirqbot is designed to provide an automated human free sanitization capability for the hotel room (and other places). Yani Zeros and his team are a constant ball of enthusiasm when it comes to design application to business problems. You can see a brief video here on the Cirqbot doing the rounds in a suite at MGM Resorts Aria.

CirqBot sanitizing a suite at MGM’s Aria Las Vegas

Contactless technology continues to be a hot topic in the hospitality sector. There is nothing new about the technology or the intent, although in the time of COVID attention has been heightened. The question is what will adoption look like? Which ideas will remain as permanent additions to the hotel industry? Some have questioned whether the guest really wants to stick to this hotel experience as a permanent model.

As the fallout of the plague continues Marriott announced the inevitable release of corporate team members as the city of London and the UK in general put in place a standing requirement to register all guests visiting a hospitality establishment in support of contact tracing. Tech to the rescue for this business need.

Technology Management = Asset Management

How are you managing your technology?

In a piece of news with a personal slant Shiji and Hongkong & Shanghai Hotels Group, better known as the Peninsula brand of five-star hotels around the world announced a technology partnership. With so much personal involvement and great friends and business associates involved in Fidelio-Micros-Oracle Hospitality, Peninsula and Shiji there are mixed feelings for all involved. Although what it demonstrates is that all things change. Sean’s article as titled is far more sensationalized than the truth as many of the people involved are the same people and the relationship and technology platform in fact shifts after more than 20 years. More observations on the story here.

The dirty Boulevard

Testbed Vegas Las Vegas sign

Fits and starts and fits again. You can’t beat Vegas for some unbridled enthusiasm. After all who else would build a 2M person city in the middle of a desert with no water? It is that can-do attitude that keeps the town rolling along and in positive news for local industry and the future a number of new entrants have come to town this month.

Imagine a Casino where you can walk out without stinking of smoke, not to mention the health impacts. Imagine no more as MGM Resorts Park MGM reopened this month as a non-smoking facility. Kudos to them and a great win for their staff as well. There will be more. Caesars also plans to reopen the Cromwell kid free. We would not have said that Vegas was a place for children, but Caesars is making it so. The Cromwell is about as boutique Casino as you will get.

The new to town Las Vegas Raiders played their first game in the new Allegiant Stadium. Virgin’s reinvented ex-Hard Rock Casino announced their plans to open in January despite COVID. Downtown Grand in the original Las Vegas city plans to introduce augmented reality based art to their new accommodation expansion. Area15, the new off strip food and beverage enclave for locals and visitors gave a glimpse into the type of experience guest can expect when they open.

News came out in relation to handling of COVID transmission in the casino gaming companys giving meaning to the real impact of the virus on business and employees. Meanwhile MGM ex CEO, Jim Murren settled his beef over wine in their challenged New Zealand vineyard venture. One less thing to whine about!

In a developing trend the gaming industry has realized that if you can’t bring the people to Las Vegas, then take Las Vegas to the people. Although not entirely new, the plague has demonstrated that the future of digital or online gaming takes and even bigger role in the industry with Expedia’s Barry Diller buying into MGM from this view and Caesars and William Hill teaming up for online betting.

Federal Bureau wI-fied

higuard hospitality technology information security

Why does the FBI consider hospitality a high target industry?

Did you know that the hospitality industry is considered to be a high target and high value industry for cybertheft? Well it is. The FBI spends a significant amount of resources working with the industry to improve digital security practices and actively investigating cyber theft and cyber fraud cases. In a recent article the FBI discuses hotel Wi-Fi services as a key area of risk for the guest and industry. So often the conduit to hacking and data theft activities in our industry.

If you want to catch up on the latest and greatest in the information security sector from the Federal Bureau of Investigation tune in to the session at CyberHITEC where the FBI will present on the topic. You will be pleased that you did.

Change is in the Air

Testbed Vegas Easyjet

And the change is that moving forward the airlines are removing, for the moment, the much maligned change fees for airline ticketing. It is true that there is a process or time and motion cost for a booking change when conducted by their staff. However, in a digital world where the customer is doing all of the work themselves it’s only an arbitrary restriction on the part of the airlines that forces a cost. When you understand the back end, it has as much to do with fare management and navigating the ‘rules’ of the change in booking = more money. Technology is moving this along with customer understanding of the nature of seasonality and fare costs.

In other news the airlines have commenced working in earnest toward COVID testing with a view to getting travel travelling again. Virus checks have been introduced between New York and London as a starting point for evaluating and implementing a ‘health passport’ for passengers. Some teething problems as noted by some of our friends who have been doing some early navigation of the new flying experience!

Big Apple rotten at the core

Restaurant dining room

In ground zero of the US COVID explosion we find the Big Apple or as has been described of more recent times the Big Apple Core. Meaning, what is left of the world city. News from people who have visited New York of recent times describes a city that is a shadow of its former self and citizens are leaving the city.

The pandemic has been particularly brutal for the restaurant industry in New York as is described in the letter from a former restaurant owner departing the industry. In an effort to improve trade conditions the city has taken further steps to support outdoor dining around the city. Why you would not be set up for this in the first place is lost on us! New York restaurants have also had allowances made for a COVID surcharge on the dining bill. By comparison the United Kingdom extended their incentives to get the public back out to support the restaurant industry through thoughtful programs. Such a contrast between two approaches.

Of recent trend is the Automart designed to cut down on the contact between the diner and the staff. What’s an automart – a place where you pick up your food from a private and secured box. Think about Amazon Locker as a model. We’re of the view that this model for a ‘mart’ style approach to a restaurant can be expanded into a self-serve kiosk as restaurants branch into pre-prepared meals and self service for retail style commerce. Speaking of which industry friend Gabrielle Hase highlighted the importance to ecommerce to the restaurant industry moving forward.

The short-term nature of the need for the restaurant industry to aggressively adopt technology and change the entire business model due to COVID is head spinning. But then with every challenge comes opportunity. Restaurant operators need to appreciate the importance of technology strategy and recognize the key role in business improvement.

Testbed Vegas Foodnbevtech Restaurant

Unsure how to bring technology into your restaurant?

In a major development for food management the USFDA announced new developments or food traceability to be introduced in the United States. Translated – the ability to trace a food item from the farm right through the supply chain process until it reaches the table, whether than be in the home or in the restaurant. The roots of the initiative are in food safety at the speed of data. The roll-on effects of the legislation are an overall improvement in quality of food and shortening the timeline through the supply chain.

This is a major initiative that will be supported through technology providers and should make major improvements in the way technology is used in this function of the industry. These same measures will also have a positive impact on food waste and food loss.

Is virtual travel travel?

Do you think that you can travel to the Amazon with Amazon virtually? Earlier in the month Amazon launched a new product as a portal to virtual travel experiences. While we are all homebound the logic of delivering such a product to the ever-growing Amazon marketplace makes a great deal of sense. The ensuing discussion has become whether virtual travel is really travel at all. Our view is that if you are Amazon why concern oneself with such petty matters. After all travel is in the eye of the beholder to pinch the phrase and if the virtual becomes a platform for commercializing physical then they will be laughing all the way to the transaction fee bank! For a collection of views, you can read more here.

In support of the virtual traveler big five consultancy, PWC, released a report on traveler sentiment. Amazon might have been reading. The long and short of it is that while as an example the US market hit 1M travelers in a day this month there is still a long road toward full recovery of traveler sentiment.

The continuation of momentum toward some form of a subscription based travel model for hotels has continued and this month a number of companys announced models for how they would approach monthly fees for accommodations services including CitizenM, Inspirato and BeRightBack. The trend toward subscription everything continues to grow so why not hotels?

Let’s build!

One of the most recent additions to Las Vegas Boulevard is the brand new Allegiant Stadium. The new home of the recently arrived Las Vegas Raiders. Would you like to see how a modern stadium is built? Watch the time lapse video below to see the process since the project commenced in November 2017.

There’s always much to discuss and review even in a COVID limited travel and hospitality industry. We continue to look forward to the time when the normal vibrancy and business of our industry continues.

That’s a wrap for October!

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