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IHTF 2023 - Where to focus on tech for the guest experience

In this episode we're joined by Nils Ziehn, limehome’s Vice President of Product & Business Intelligence and Antonis Chalkiopoulos, CEO of Triparound who are two of the sponsors of IHTF 2023. We cover the value of IHTF and where hotels need to focus on tech to deliver a digital guest experience.


Programme Notes


Ryan Haynes:

Hello and welcome to the fifth episode for the pre-IHTF 2023 conversations as we near the event at the end of March in Vienna. We've already spoken to Real Hotel Group Best Westerns and Accor as well as some of the sponsors. In today's episode, we are speaking to Nils Ziehn of Limehome and Antonis Chalkiopoulos from a trip around to find out what's going to be on their minds when they speak to the Hoteliers at the event.


Ryan Haynes:

Joining me is Neil Singh, the Vice President of Product and Business Intelligence at Lime Home. He's going to be talking about learning from building a digital hotel experience, a Lime Home case study at IHTF 2023 this year. Nils, thanks ever so much for joining us today. Now you've got this big presentation coming up, learning from building a digital hotel experience. I mean that's where it is right now. Digitalization, stacking up that technology within the hotels. This must be a prime event for you and your customers.


Nils Ziehn:

Yeah, hi Ryan. Thanks for having me. I mean, it's really great connecting with others, meeting people, and discussing what the trends are in our industry. Of course, how are others solving all of our common problems? It's really nice. But at the same time, also have the opportunity this year to speak about what our learnings are from building our digital guest experience at Limehome. I think it's a topic that's particularly interesting for many of the players that are moving in a similar direction, but of course, also sparks the conversation and learn from others how they are tackling, our problems and this topic. So really looking forward to it.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean the program looks absolutely fantastic because it is a set of case studies, IRA from hotels themselves or businesses that are really building out that digital agenda, that tech stacking up that technology there. So, we are going to get some real insights from you about how you put this technology together and the impact that it's had. Is that right?


Nils Ziehn:

Exactly. Yeah. I mean we've now been at this for a couple of years and having the opportunity to build a lot of things ourselves while also making use of the other tools that are out there in the market, I think gives us a quite nice insight on what has worked, what didn't work, where we invested maybe too much time in the past, but also what are the key things that our guests really appreciate about what we've built. And I think that's really cool to see over the last couple of years. But I think also something that others can appreciate and maybe take some learnings from.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, going through the procurement process of identifying the right tech stack and the right partners is a headache for a lot of people because there are so many out there. But this sort of event is fantastic to really get into, get under the skin and see what technology has been used before and where the pitfalls but also the opportunities lie for this year. What do you see are the key concerns and issues for hotels and, and type of solutions that they're looking for?


Nils Ziehn:

Yeah, I mean I think have been many things in the, in the news and also in the discussions about inflation, staffing shortages, but also just changing customer behaviour, different expectations now in the post covid world and also of course with more and more staff moving online, reduce business travel in some markets. I think there are many common things. I do believe that our digital-first approach has helped us to kind of get over some of these hurdles, in the past and also kind of having built up a lot of knowledge around data insights, using that for our expansion and pricing and so on. I think it's been quite nice, but at the same time still, we are facing similar kind of problems as the others.


Nils Ziehn:

So, of course, exchanging on these topics, I'm really looking forward to.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, absolutely. There's so many people in that room and the fact that you've got that moment to sit with them and have a proper conversation and then obviously you've got the networking breaks as, as well as the lunches and dinners, it, it really does make for an opportunity to dive into proper conversation with hotels and other vendors across the industry. What value do you see that you add to your customers with Lime Home?


Nils Ziehn:

Yeah, I mean with our approach I think you can really offer a superior accommodation experience while having a price competitive to our standout hotel. And I think also our guests really appreciate kind of the entire journey from having their own apartment and the privacy of their own apartment with us skipping the line at the reception and so on. I think that's really nice, but at the same time, having this experience that both apply to solo travellers, couples as well as families and our bigger rooms, I think that's a quite nice culmination. And then of course we can expand and enrich the experience with our digital products also during this day and not just your arrival.


Ryan Haynes:

I mean it's amazing how the industry itself and accommodation types have massively diversified over the last few years. What we once knew as holiday homes are now sort of serviced hotels, but obviously you've got that entire apartment to yourself. Hotel brands are also looking at diversifying their portfolio and adding on a whole set of alternative accommodation offerings is there any sort of new developments that you are making at Lyme home or trends particularly that you are seeing in this market that you're particularly excited about?


Nils Ziehn:

Yeah, I mean there's been a lot going on in Autumn last year we had our big last fundraising. So we keep sustaining our fast growth and expanding into new markets, Italy and Portugal very soon. We are really looking forward to also expanding to those markets. Also of course increasing our existing portfolio in the existing countries and also investing our technology, launching new products for our customers pretty much on a daily basis from improving the checking experience during the during stay product and so on. And hopefully soon also offering more and more services to our customers. Really looking forward to that.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent news I really look forward to actually meeting you at IHTF in Vienna this year and then actually, actually having a proper conversation interview about this case study that you are going to be delivering at the event. Because I think it's going to be really interesting, particularly for hotels and other tech vendors that are going to be in the, in, in, in the space at the time to, to really understand what was most effective and how the company is also still battling with some areas around digitalization and what lies ahead. So I think that it's a really interesting roadmap for anybody going through that experience or who is planning on that. So definitely check that out at the IHTF 2023.


Ryan Haynes:

Neils, thanks again for joining me today.


Ryan Haynes:

With me now is Antonopoulos the co-founder and CEO of Triparound now this is your second year actually attending the IHTF Antonis. So what was so great about the event last year to make you return?


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

So, hi Ryan. It's great to be here. It's great to join one other here. The IHTF conference for us, it's one of the few events that give us the opportunity to interact with technology experts in the hotel industry, hospitality industry, and get to meet with the decision-makers in each of these properties and hotels that we want to also attract and convince to use our solution and product. So it's great that you can interact with them, get their feedback on the product that you're providing to them, and get to connect with all of them in person and manage to book a few deals ideally at the end of the conference.


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

Absolutely. And for course


Ryan Haynes:

It's always great to make new contacts as you say, and additional customers at the same time, you are also going to be on one of the panels. So what do you feel are the key concerns and issues that you are having conversations with hoteliers about at the moment?


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

Yes. So, you know the technology stack in the hospital is very fragmented. So there are so many software solutions that hotel leaders are using to manage day-to-day tasks and, and, and issues they face in their business. And you cannot connect all of them in one place. So, it, it's what we do. Also, the fact that we kind of organize under an umbrella solution, all the operational aspects, they, they, they, they, they face it. It's one of the things that they, they also, the efficiency in their team.


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

So, so how to con better connect with their guests, how to drive direct traffic to their website, how to provide a better guest experience, and increase revenue from ancillary service and experiences without creating more labour for their team. So, this is some, some, let's say problems that they do face and that we also try to provide a solution for.


Ryan Haynes:

Yeah, I mean we, we've, we've always heard about how there's always a dedicated person to manage a particular system rather than actually managing all the systems. It seems to be a, a way that in the industry we've, we've sort of gone out, we've created these systems that don't talk to one another, but now it's all about how that data can be shared and all about how you can automate and those process and digitalize some of those mundane proc administrative processes I guess as well that the staff have to deal with. And this is particularly key at a time when it's difficult to find the right kind of staff as well. I guess this is what you are particularly seeing across the industry, but also the need to reduce costs for hotels because it's becoming a very costly business, isn't it?


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

Yeah, yeah. That, that's, that's, that's true. So, and just to give you a sense also since our, our bread and butter is how to manage and, and promote distillery service experiences, how to promote anything but the room transfers, rentals, whatever you offer your restaurants, your wellness facilities. And the thing there is that booking those services today requires excessive manual work in many situations. So, you have to communicate with the supplier vendor, you have to get an email for a request by then get back to the guest to understand the exact needs. You don't have a very detailed way to book all those products online and just a number that we have here in places where you might exchange more than 25 emails with a guest just to plan their trip, especially for resorts.


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

You understand how much effort is needed, from any team member or concerned member to manage all that. And we do what we say to our customers that you don't have to reduce the personalization aspect because they don't want to provide a personalised experience with their guests to connect with them while they arrive. You get to have all these things, but you get to reduce the time needed for managing stuff that is doing are done manually today. So, this is where we bring value. This is where you can reduce the costs if you don't if you cannot find employees, you can use technology to replace a few aspects of your business. But again, you get to train your team in one platform and not, not lose time on training in multiple systems.


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

All that stuff cost a lot and they cannot scale us.


Ryan Haynes:

Absolutely. As you say, there's so, so many different aspects that need to be considered when looking at the tech stack and how you can bring those greater efficiencies. And what are some of the key developments that you've been working on within trip around over the last year?


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

Yes. So Triparound, of course, is a B2B travel tech company. So, what we do is that we address the day-to-day needs of the hostile professionals, and our guest experience platform is focused on, as I said before, managing anything but the rooms. It's like how to book, like acting as an umbrella solution, how to book the spa, the restaurant, and anything you have inside the hotel. We can manage it, we can organize it, can help promote it online through many different channels. And, and this is what we have been doing lately. We try to bring also more revenue through many different channels. Imagine that any hotelier has a website right now.


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

You cannot have access normally to bookable services and experiences on their website. So you need to get those book hour products online, which provide a better experience for the guests and also increase direct traffic. You can also create mail marketing campaigns that can also drive upselling of those products before pre-arrival, during the stay, also post-stay, just to give you a number, through the last year we've seen that more than 50% of the bookings happen to trip around happen pre-arrival, meaning that someone that, that travels in, let's say August this year is booking services from today. Which is, which is amazing because this is a way for hoteliers, we know about RevPAR, how the revenue per available room, but if you can imagine how the total revenue per available room, if you add all the services, how this can, can, can be increased and how much money, more how can you can maximize guest spending and profit.


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

This is what we focus on. And lately, we are now launching also for the last few months, we are developing a new also web app a way for let's say for our customers, especially for hoteliers. Whenever a customer books a room with them, of course, we do provide services for booking experiences and services to their website. But also, now through a web that we're releasing, we are giving the opportunity to connect with them throughout their trip because now they have a web app to get to check their room, their check-in, and checkout information and book more services through this channel. So it's a way for them to have more communication ways with their guests.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. And as you say, you know the more that the guest feels that they're in contact with the hotel, that greater accessibility and greater freedom of choice just makes Yes. Product accessible, don't they?


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

Yes. And also, data is everywhere Ryan. If you manage to collect the data, to organize the data, you get to provide a more personalized approach to your guest, which is needed right now. You need to understand that Ryan is travelling tomorrow, and is coming to our hotel and we know that Ryan likes, let's say, selling trips. Oh, we have this product, let's provide this opportunity to Ryan to book now online that that's something that's needed and you need to collect the data and read the data and understand the value that is behind all the information that is collected.


Ryan Haynes:

Wonderful. Antonis, thank you very much. You're going to be at IHTF 2023 available for anybody to be able to speak to as well as on the panel discussion where we're going to explore a lot more about the interconnectivity between different systems and how that can be utilized by the hotel to bring greater efficiencies and reduce that pressure on staff while always bringing in more revenue, right?


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

That's correct. Thanks so much, Ryan. I'm looking forward to this event.


Ryan Haynes:

Excellent. Look forward to seeing you in just a few weeks’ time. Thank you.


Antonis Chalkiopoulos:

Thank you, Ryan. Thanks so much.

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