🍍What can the hospitality industry learn from Sonder?

Plus: Swire Hotels’ simple approach to digitization

Today we’re looking at:

  • What the hospitality industry can learn from Sonder

  • Swire Hotels’ simple approach to digitization

  • The NYU Hospitality Innovation Hub winner

  • Marriott reimagining guest room furniture with Ori

This newsletter is sponsored by Cendyn.

2022 may have just begun, but the hospitality industry is already seeing significant shifts in connecting with guests. With an unprecedented demand for digitization and automation as reduced workforce and challenges from the pandemic continue, there’s a lot going on that hoteliers need to be aware of as we move into the new year. Join the Cendyn team Thursday, January 27th for a webinar on the trends they are seeing for revenue, marketing and sales in the year ahead.

What can the hospitality industry learn from Sonder?

Sonder is going public via SPAC.

If you’re unfamiliar with the company, they partner with real estate owners and landlords to manage both hotels and apartment-style long-term accommodations. Today they operate 16,000+ units in 10 countries.

Max Starkov wrote an article last year about how Sonder’s unique approach enables them to provide a modern design and technology-first guest experience.

There are more than 700,000 hotels and resorts worldwide. The unfortunate reality is too many of them are a disappointment - a downgrade from the technology and design we have at home or experience with other consumer brands.

Why is this? In the words of Max:

The current situation of dominant owners and subservient operators is the reason why hospitality is the most tech-averse and innovation-averse industry today, far behind even traditional sectors like agriculture and construction.

What’s going on here?

What do you think? Is this the future of hospitality?

I’d love to hear your perspective why or why not.

Swire Hotels now has a majority of in-room orders made digitally

Swire Hotels took a straightforward approach to digitizing their guest experience. Instead of pushing complex applications, they allowed their guests to customize their stay using the digital devices they are familiar with. Scanning a QR code accesses a range of services – from scheduling a time to collect dirty laundry to selecting how you like your eggs done at breakfast.

The results two months after launch?

  • Decreasing phone call volume

  • 60% of in-room dining transactions now comes from digital services

“Everything we do is about our guests and our people, which forms the cornerstone of our digital approach. Our goal is to make life easier and more convenient for guests, liberating them to do more important things while boosting operational efficiency. This also enables our team members to concentrate on the guest experience rather than administration and process management, thereby providing them with better services.” - Dean Winter, Managing Director, Swire Hotels

The NYU Hospitality Innovation Hub winner

The inaugural “Pitch Your Passion & Seal the Deal” competition, hosted by the Hospitality Innovation Hub Incubator at NYU, was designed to stimulate ideas for new industry innovation. Kenta Ramen, which offers autonomous micro-retail for ready-to-eat, authentic Japanese ramen delivered within 45 seconds, won the first-place prize.

“Automation in the industry is imminent. Ideally, Kenta Ramen will be like Sweetgreen or Shake Shack (but for gourmet ramen and Japanese cuisine) all delivered with sustainability, automation, and convenience.” - Daniel Liu

I’m intrigued by the use of automation to create fresh, high-quality food on site. Providers I’ve tried such as Cafe X seemed more gimmicky than anything, but I’m hopefully new startups like Kenta can provide higher quality at lower costs in partnership with lodging providers.

Marriott partners with Ori to reimagine guest room furniture

Marriott International is partnering with robotics and architecture startup Ori as part of their new R&D lab. Brooklyn-based Ori combines engineering, technology and design expertise to produce furniture that effectively creates two rooms out of one.

I’m intrigued on how this approach could make small hotel rooms more functional:

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