Must Start Somewhere: Sourcing the Next Big Ideas in Lodging Tech

Ambitious entrepreneurs in lodging technology innovation are motivated by a passion to improve the industry, companies, people, and maybe even the world. Driven by a desire to succeed, they work tirelessly to secure the funding, backing, and press necessary to transform their fledgling idea into a thriving business operation. But how do these ideas start? Where do they come from?

The idea may be an entirely new model, improve upon existing technology in the marketplace, or fill a perceived gap in the industry. Picture this common scenario at the end of a lovely hotel stay: It’s check-out time, bags are packed, and you’re ready to leave—only to find that you have no cash in your wallet or purse to tip housekeeping on your way out. Recognizing a gap in the current hotel guest experience, E20X Dubai’s 2022 Judge’s Choice Award recipient eTip pitched an app-less, cashless, and contact-free digital tipping solution that makes it easy for guests to tip hotel staff using their preferred payment option. This solution not only provides a convenient service to hotel guests who want to use it, but it also works to improve employee morale and help hoteliers reward excellent customer service. E20X North America 2022 participant TipQwik is another digital tipping solution designed to enable guests to leave gratuities to hotel staff using their smartphones.

E20X Dubai’s 2022 Judge’s Choice Semi-finalist also aims to improve employee morale and performance with their solution. S-Rate is a service rating app powered by machine learning that allows hotel guests to provide personalized feedback on employee performance.

The idea may be developed to enhance efficiency, streamline operations, and increase revenue. Robosize ME was awarded the Judge’s Choice Award at E20X Orlando 2022 for their virtual robots, designed to automate processes in all areas of hotel operations including reservations, front-of-house, back-office, revenue management, group sales, engineering, and meetings and events.


Beachy secured the People’s Choice Award at E20X Orlando 2022 with their integrated booking and ordering platform for activities and equipment reservations, as well as their food and beverage (F&B) mobile point-of-sale solution. Their solution is designed to increase revenue and improve the guest experience at resorts by performing seamlessly outdoors with little to no bandwidth.

E20X Dubai’s 2022 People’s Choice Award winner Turpal offers a B2B2C solution designed to increase sales and reduce operational costs for destination service providers such as tour operators, hotel travel desks, and destination management companies. They provide a B2B marketplace for tours, activities, and attractions, as well as a post-departure solution including a comprehensive itinerary builder.

Upstay automates the upselling process at every stage of the guest journey using advanced business intelligence and artificial intelligence (AI). Their platform leverages data-rich analytics to personalize upsell recommendations and increase conversion rates.

Perhaps the new solution works to consolidate various services or make existing technology implementation and integration more accessible. Many startups seek to provide a “one-stop shop” for automation. A.I. Bookings offers an all-in-one solution containing a property management system (PMS), channel manager, and web-booking engine. The company boasts a software solution that digitizes and automates every process in the hospitality industry and guest journey. Teamatix is a cloud-based solution for staff and operations management powered by special rules that automate over 50 hotel routine procedures.

There are many reasons that promising business ideas are born, but it takes a great deal of effort, time, and even luck to become more than just that. Entrepreneurs need opportunities to present their ideas to the industry and generate the funding and support necessary to scale up operations, gain clients, and succeed. That is why the HFTP E20X competition exists.

Note: The startups featured in this article participated in the 2022 editions of HFTP’s Entrepreneur 20X (E20X) startup pitch competition, co-located with HITEC® North America and HITEC Dubai.

Sponsored by HFTP. Learn more about how HTFP supports industry startups and see the list of startups that have been selected to participate in E20X 2023 here.

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Briana Gilmore is the communications manager at Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP®), the producers of E20X and an international non-profit association providing education, events and resources for professionals working in finance and technology within the hospitality industry.