Web 2.0 & 3.0 Impact on Hospitality Technology | HFTP HITEC

Speaking in Anaheim at last week’s Hospitality Financial & Technology Professionals annual HITEC conference, I was joined by friend and twice former colleague Mike Robinson, head of product architecture for InterContinental Hotels Group. Our topic? The impact of Web 2.0 technologies on the hotel industry. Given that Web 2.0 is now nearing its fifth birthday, we decided to vary a bit from the program and add in our view of what Web 3.0 might look like.

Expecting a technically diverse audience with backgrounds ranging from technology vendors to hotel operations and marketing personnel, the basic objective of the presentation was to give the group a primer on how key web technology has advanced, the benefits provided and an overview of some emerging technologies that serve as the foundation for Web 3.0. Not to get too academic, we also wanted to to provide some examples of practical applications of these technologies and how the organizations deploying them are differentiating themselves from their competitors.

Progression of Web 1.0 2.0 and 3.0 Technologies

Amazing Advancements in Web Technologies - Now if we can only get the hospitality industry to use them...

One somewhat startling observation – when I was surveying a number of leading industry figures for recommendations of web sites where hospitality companies were
effectively utilizing Web 2.0 technologies, the most frequent response was something close to “none come immediately to mind…” This is a rather painful statement to hear repeatedly, particularly within an industry that claims to be constantly seeking creative methods to showcase product benefits and more effectively engage with its customer base. The good news is that there is ample room for improvement – as organizations update, there are opportunities for strategy to be reassessed and new tools to be deployed.

The PowerPoint section of the presentation (Part I) covering the basic history of Web 1.0 2.0 and 3.0 technologies is embedded below and is also available on SlideShare through the link. For those too lazy to click the link and who prefer the Cliffs Notes version, a quick summary of the major points is below ūüôā

Why care?

  • The web coninues to evolve as it matures
  • Web customers defy traditional demographics & clustering
  • Watch teenagers to understand the new “normal” of the future

Web evolution:

  • Web 1.0 – Publishing (Crawl)
  • Web 2.0 – Community (Walk)
  • Web 3.0 – Engagement (Run)

Web 2.0 Core Characteristics

  • Rich User Experience
  • Radical Decentralization
  • Radical Trust

Web 2.0 Core Technologies

  • XML / RSS
  • Ajax
  • Web Services

Web 2.0 Key Success Factors

  • Scalable Services
  • Control over rare data sources
  • Harnessing collective intelligence

Social Media Impact

What’s Next in Web 3.0?

  • Semantic / Intelligent Web
  • Personalization
  • Mobility

Key Web 3.0 Technologies

  • RDF
  • RDFS
  • OWL

Leverage Community

  • Community Engagement
  • Support OpenTravel FastRez
  • Support HEDNA UGI

Google Wave – Game Changer?

  • Real Time / Threaded Communication
  • Open source applications
  • Integrates Messaging and Hypertext

One of the emerging technologies mentioned was Google Wave, which I predict will be a game changer for travel agencies and the group market. I will dedicate a future blog post to this outrageously cool platform a little bit closer to its public beta release. For the impatient, you can take a look at the announcement video here:Google Wave Preview.

Part II of the presentation highlights some hospitality industry best practices. It is embedded below in a Prezi format and again, is available through a web link.  A seven-step travel process is used as the foundation for identifying the groups credited with best practices.   Please note: this is not an empirical list based on exhaustive recursive tests across a sample universe Рthese are personal opinions, with the examples intentionally selected to highlight integration with the intention of increasing customer engagement.  If you feel there are better example, please add a comment with a link РI would love to see it and may incorporate it into the presentation when it is refreshed.

Web 2.0 Technologies in the Hospitality Industry – Best Practice Examples

Again, for the lazy or flash-challenged, here is a quick synopsis:

First, you really should take a look at Prezi Рit is a powerful freesourced application that changes the standard PowerPoint paradigm.  You can easily embed media and the amount of creative potential they add to presentation design is virtually unlimited.  Prezi did not go outside the box, they shredded and burnt the box.  Plus, their design zebra is an incredibly creative control tool for content editing.

  1. Inspiration – Uh… pass?¬† Inspiring travel is definitely a weak point for the hotel and travel industries.¬† Imagini’s Youniverse application is a huge step in the right direction.¬† The tool helps identify a deeper emotional or motivational connection between the traveler and their intended itinerary.¬† A bit weak on the fulfillment end at this point, but the concept is a huge step forward.
  2. ResearchMorgans Hotel Group.  Their new site not only scores well from a rich media perspective, but provides its prospective guest with information ranging from what is hot in town, to the inspiration of the responsible for designing the spaces, lifestyle oriented packages, etc.
  3. PlanningJoie de Vivre.¬† JDV’s web site, particularly its “Your California” vacation planner helps travelers understand neighborhood and activities to create “Joy of Life Guides” including expert advice from local residents.
  4. Checking РNot Applicable.  Something very difficult for hotel brands or properties to control.  Travelers will validate their plans with third party review sites and their social networks to ensure they are considering appropriate alternatives and finding relevant values.
  5. BookingMorgans Hotel Group, again. There may be faster or more robust booking engines, but Morgans is used as an example of the integration and continuity of site design between the general site content and  the booking engine  Рno little widget and generic room lists here.
  6. Travel – Another TBD. Web 3.0 will help enable hotels to leverage mobile technologies to help guests in real time based on a better understanding of guest interests and their specific itinerary.
  7. SharingInterContinental Hotels Group Travelers will post pictures, blog, and tweet their travel experiences to their social networks using the sites of their choice, but InterContinental, leveraging its 43 million member base, has created its own community. Not only can members post pictures, but those photos are now used in advertising campaigns and traveler comments provide an expert resource for future guests staying in the same destination.

Thanks again to the folks at HFTP – it was an honor to speak at the event and it’s always great to catch up with so many old friends and colleagues.

About Robert Cole

Robert Cole is the founder of RockCheetah, a hotel marketing strategy and travel technology consulting practice. He also authors the Views from a Corner Suite Blog and publishes the Travel Quote of the Day. Robert speaks regularly at major travel industry conferences, authors articles for leading travel industry publications, advises travel-related startups and the equity investment community. He is an evangelist for the global travel industry.