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Not-so artificial intelligence

This is such a busy and exciting time of year for the HOSPA office. HOSPACE is next month which means we are firing on all cylinders and working at 100mph to make it the best HOSPA conference yet! HOSPACE preparation aside though, October is generally a busy time for the industry, and I have been lucky enough to attend both The Annual Hotel Conference and The Independent Hotel Show this month. I moderated a panel at The AHC on the ‘future of guest facing technology’, where I was privileged to be joined by Rob Paterson, CEO of Best Western, Julie Grieve founder of Criton, Jim Cockell proprietor at The Old Stocks Hotel and Duncan Anderson from Humanise AI.

They all talked with great knowledge and discussed their own personal experiences when it comes to taking leaps of faith with new technology. Rob talked about his time at Village Hotels and the complete – and rapid – overhaul of automation that took place there. Julie shared the results of Criton’s recent survey into what hotel guests actually

want from technology. Duncan was really well placed to talk about Artificial Intelligence having worked on IBM’s Watson Project and more recently setting up his own hospitality business. Finally, Jim spoke eloquently from a hotelier’s perspective, fuelled by his side line on advising hoteliers on their IT decisions.

The conclusions of the panel were – maybe unsurprisingly – that the guest must have the choice to engage with either technology or a person. It doesn’t matter if it’s a budget hotel or five star; we are in the business of hospitality and the guest must feel welcome – whether that welcome is the ability to download a digital key before they even step foot into the hotel, or something as simple as a team member imparting knowledge with a smile. Technology should work alongside the team, enhancing what they do, not

hindering it. In addition to this, back office and data crunching should give the hotel team the tools to recognise a guest and anticipate their needs. Now though to the highlight of the year.

HOSPACE is on the 28th November at The Royal Lancaster. If you haven’t already booked your place, please do so. We are selling tickets for both the day and the dinner, which can be accessed via, and they’re fast selling out.

There are so many fascinating sessions throughout the day that it is difficult to share the most interesting. It will all be amazing, but a particular highlight is set to come from Jeremy Ward and the team from Cloud Reach, who will be making a live recording for their regular podcast with Stephanie Timsit and Floor Bleeker. I know that will be one to remember.

In addition, Peter Hancock will also be interviewing Kate Nichols from UK Hospitality, while Russel Kett has pulled together a panel of experts to align the strategies of hotel owner and operator. Frank Reeves will be leading an IT discussion. We have professors, counter terrorism and security experts, leaders discussing how to keep your team motivated, revenue management professionals sharing top tips for managing more than just bedrooms, and much more besides.

All that before the Gala Dinner. Finally, with awards in mind, if you haven’t already nominated your IT / Finance / RM or Marketing Inspirational leader, please do so at they provide the opportunity for some outstanding industry recognition.

Jane Pendlebury



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