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Although returning to in-person events this year has been overwhelmingly positive, there occasionally hasn’t been quite the same buzz or footfall from previous years. But after a whirlwind couple of days in Paris, we can happily report that Food Hotel Tech was as brilliant as ever.
With almost 8,000 visitors descending upon 250 exhibitors, the atmosphere at FHT was buzzing – particularly at the Mews stand (if we say so ourselves).
When I think back to FHT in 2019, a lot has changed. There was more excitement this time, not just because we were happy to be seeing each other again, but because there’s been a shift in mindset.
Back then, many hoteliers were still afraid of technology. This year, it really felt like everyone was much more comfortable with hotel tech. People had a strong idea of what they were talking about and how various solutions could have a big positive impact on their properties. In a way it felt as though our industry had matured, and that the hunt was on for finding the perfect tool or software.
This was the overarching feeling, but there were also some other notable themes and common conversation points that emerged over the two days.
1. People were excited to meet again
FHT 2021 was also much busier than previous editions. It felt like everyone was dropping by the Mews stand: existing customers, prospects, partners, students, and even just curious people who wanted to know what all the excitement was about. The first day was so non-stop that some of us didn’t have time for lunch – I know, I know, the sacrifices we have to make in the line of duty...
2. Building a hotel ecosystem
One of the big trends we noticed is that hoteliers were often coming to speak to us not just looking for a PMS, but a hospitality ecosystem. This is something we’re really happy to see. It means that more and more, hoteliers are thinking about their customer journey and guest experience as a whole, not simply searching for a system that will manage reservations.
3. The rise of guest-centric tools
So what were some of the most common tools hoteliers were searching for? Channel managers and upselling tools were high on the agenda, as usual, but we also saw high interest in guest journey and marketing software, highlighting the growing guest-centric movement. A special shoutout to Bowo, a digital guest experience solution, whose beautiful hotel lobby stand was a great place to relax!
4. A connected future
Another big positive was that at the talks and conference events, we heard hoteliers speaking about the future of hospitality and how it will be an innovative, connected future. You’d expect that kind of content if it was someone from Mews speaking, for example, but for the hoteliers to also be onboard with this philosophy is very heartening.
We also saw this in the conversations that we overheard on the floor. We were lucky enough to be joined by Duetto and Lightspeed on our stand, both of whom had loads of interest – if you’re reading this, thanks for being excellent company during the event!
5. Innovative machine learning
Talking of innovation, machine learning was also on the menu and caused a lot of interesting discussion. The likes of Quicktext and HiJiffy presented some fascinating insights into the power of big data and AI, particularly when it comes to chatbots. For instance, the behavior of a Parisian staying in a Paris hotel is very different to a New Yorker staying in that same hotel. Using machine learning to tailor a chatbot’s interactions with each guest can make a big difference to their experience.
Thanks to everyone who showed up in Paris – it was great meeting you and finally getting to talk face to face. If you missed out, don’t worry; I’m sure we’ll be released back into the wild soon...
Check out our events page if you’d like to know what’s on the horizon.
Magali has over a decade of experience in hospitality. She started out as Hilton receptionist and now brings her passion and expertise to the role of Customer Success Director at Mews.
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