Hotel Owner Hotel Owner July 2017 digital - Page 11

MONTH IN REVIEW GO ONLINE TECHNOLOGY Avvio launches world first AI-powered booking platform Booking engine provider Avvio has announced the launch of its new platform Allora, the world’s first direct booking platform powered by artificial intelligence (AI). The platform will launch in October of this year and will focus on driving direct bookings and guest loyalty while “orchestrating better online interactions” with hotels and its guests. Frank Reeves, co-founder and CEO of Avvio said that the platform works by “identifying patterns in a vast amount of data and using the insight to make predictions.” He added: “It assesses all the past interactions of a hotel’s booking engine and learns with every interaction how to make each visitor type more likely to convert and with as high a booking value as possible.” The aim of this platform is to make this process easier for individual properties and give partnering hotels an “ongoing insight” into making changes which will directly benefit them. Reeves said: “In an era of exponential data, hotels sit on large tranches of data that they typically don’t have the manpower to crunch. Allora is designed to democratise access to AI – hotels can rely on us to do this effectively for minimal investment.” Explaining the advantages of Allora at the HEDNA Global Distribution Conference on 14 June, Reeves said that hotels could “unearth better patterns more quickly” and allow hoteliers to spend more time “tending to in-house tasks”. July 2017 CHAINS Wetherspoon invests €15m in Dublin hotel Wetherspoon is to invest more than €15m in the development of a new 98-room hotel and pub in Dublin. Work is set to begin in February 2018 for an early 2019 opening. The new property is expected to create 200 new jobs in the area. The site is currently a row of derelict properties on Camden Street in Dublin. A number of the historical aspects of the buildings will be restored including circular stained glass windows which were crafted by church decorators, Earley and Company. Part of the terrace was also a convent of the Little Sisters of Assumption – from 1890 until the 1940s. Their former chapel will also be preserved and form part of the new pub and hotel. Tim Martin, chairman of Wetherspoon, said: “We are looking forward to developing the site into a fantastic pub and hotel. “It will be the biggest single investment undertaken by Wetherspoon and will result in our largest hotel alongside a superb pub.” The UK’s tourism VAT rate at 20% is double the European average. Northern Ireland’s hospitality and tourism businesses risk losing customers to the Republic of Ireland where Tourism VAT is 9% Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association 1 2 3 4 5 6 NEWS ANALYSIS We have seen the industry put their heads together to figure how to work around the new government’s policies and the impending Brexit negotiations but amongst all that, hotels have continued to go from strength to strength. Even recent tragedies haven’t disrupted things; if anything, we have seen the industry pull together offering solace and hosting fundraising events for those affected. While concern remains for the workforce of the industry, things look promising as the BHA predicts that 500,000 jobs will be created in the sector in the next five years signifying a continuous growth. POLITICS BHA responds to Tory-DUP deal The British Hospitality Asssociation (BHA) has commended the Theresa May’s Conservatives for including tourism VAT in considerations for a ‘confidence and supply’ deal with the DUP. It applauded the government for recognising the need to “examine how Northern Ireland’s businesses are impacted by the UK’s high rates of tourism VAT.” A detailed report will be commissioned and published as part of this agreement. As part of the deal, Northern Ireland will receive £1.5bn funding to be spent on infrastructure, health and education over the next two years. The 10 DUP MPs will also support the Tories in Brexit negotiations and security legislation. Ufi Ibrahim, chief executive of the British Hospitality Association said: “Reducing tourism VAT across the UK is a key pillar of the BHA’s recommendations to government to support the UK’s fourth largest industry and we look forward to working with the Treasury and leading the industry’s representations to this detailed report.” 11