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Published on : Tuesday, February 9, 2016
On Thursday, 10 March 2016 the special guest at the ITB Hospitality Day will be Mario, a robot who works in a hotel. Visitors to the 11th hotel conference of the world’s leading travel trade show can witness him at the start of the event and briefly at every discussion round. On the subject of digitalization, the key topic at the ITB Berlin Convention, leading hotel experts will be discussing robots, hi-tech innovations and innovation labs. This is the first time a Chinese hotel group will be taking part. At Plateno Hotels, China’s second largest hotel chain, “totally digital” has become part of everyday life. There will also be a meeting of two senior executives from Google and Booking.com. A futurist will be describing digital natives and three other experts will be discussing investment in hotel guests.
Welcome, Mario! Mario is the youngest employee at the Ghent Marriott Hotel in Belgium. Standing 57 cm tall and weighing only six kilograms, he speaks 19 languages. At the ITB Hospitality Day, starting at 10.30 a.m., his inventor and hotel manager will be explaining why he was made and his hotel duties. Mario will be listening when at the next panel, starting at 11 a.m., Stephan Demmerle, director of the Business Unit Central Europe of the NH Hotel Group, will be explaining why the hotel chain makes use of a technology that can create a life-size human with a 3D hologram of his heart and distribute it around the world. Roland Schwecke of the marketing consultancy DICON Marketing- und Beratungsgesellschaft Berlin will be closely examining the impact of technology, for which Richard Singer of Travelzoo conducted a survey of consumer opinions for ITB Berlin.
The 25hours Hotel Company was at the forefront of innovation before innovation labs even existed. CEO Christoph Hoffmann will be talking about how life revolves around creativity in one’s own themed hotels. Dr. Jens Pippig of ProSiebenSat.1 Media will be explaining why in recent years startups have been supported in every sector, and hotel strategist René Massatti of TrendONE Vienna stores innovative ideas in a database (starting at 12.15 p.m.).
China’s largest hotel chain comprising 3,000 hotels is expanding rapidly and exploiting the Chinese fascination with the internet. Starting at 1.30 p.m., Eric Wu, chief financial officer and executive director from Guangzhou, will be talking to Maria Pütz-Willems, editor-in-chief of hospitalityInside.com and organiser of the ITB Hospitality Day, about digital life in the Far East, and how and why the Plateno Hotels Group, part of the hospitality giant Jin Jiang, intends to take on the European market.
OTA giants are inseparable from the hotel industry. How are distribution giants changing this sector and how is competition among OTAs changing? Terri Scriven, industry head of Hospitality, Google, London, and Peter Verhoeven, managing director, Europe/Middle East/Africa, Booking.com, Amsterdam, will be facing up to critical questions starting at 2.45 p.m.
In his 30-minute interlude, futurist Andreas Reiter of ZTB Zukunftsbüro, Vienna, will be drawing attention to digital natives, the generation born between 1980 and 1997, which from 2020 will represent over half of the workforce. What can hotel managers learn from their internet-obsessed employees?
The focus will then shift from workers to guests: who will win the long-term race for new and existing customers? Are there any effective tools left in the bid for customer loyalty? Points and miles, social media and ratings? What is the cost of “guest innovation“? These are just some of the questions to which Frank Astheimer, director of Partner Programmes, Miles & More in Frankfurt; Elina Zois, director of Marriott Rewards & CRM Europe, Marriott International in London and Benjamin Jost, chief executive officer of TrustYou, Munich, will be giving answers, starting at 4.40 p.m.