Tech Innovation That Keeps the Focus on Human Needs

The HITEC 2024 General Session on Tuesday morning featured Anthony Melchiorri, president, Argeo Hospitality and LODGING columnist, in a panel that could have focused on any number of tech trends impacting hotel operations, from AI to the cloud. However, the focus of the session was the more philosophical issue of how technological advancement relates to human nature, and many useful insights were shared.

Tuesday’s General Session at HITEC 2024.

The panelists stressed how important it is for hoteliers to distinguish valuable tech trends from fads. They reinforced that before adopting a given product, they should consider whether it meets some of the essential needs and solves relevant problems, and ultimately enhances guest service.

Melchiorri observed, “The human desire to be taken care of never goes away.” And when it comes to hospitality, that desire includes not only basics like quality F&B and a comfortable bed but also entertainment options. Guestroom entertainment technology has most certainly come a long way in delivering a home-away-from-home experience, one example being DIRECTV’s recently launched Advanced Entertainment Platform (AEP).

At a HITEC media briefing, Jeff Fox, director of strategic sales and brand partnerships, presented the comprehensive solution, which offers access to a wide array of live TV channels, an extensive On Demand library, integration with many popular apps, casting capability, as well as robust guest communication features.


Along with the fundamental needs of comfort, convenience, and efficiency, humans need to bond with each other, and that has remained constant through all the new modes of virtual communication. As Melchiorri put it, “Human nature doesn’t change, only the ways we connect. … Every generation is searching for human connection.” During COVID-19, many predicted that virtual human connections would become the new norm, but the panelists were not convinced that in-person gatherings would become passé. That skepticism proved well founded as meetings and events have now returned to pre-pandemic levels. Even small meetings—those thought most likely to be permanently replaced by video calls—have returned, noted Jeff Bzdawka, CEO, Knowland, at a HITEC discussion with LODGING.

“Those are people that are maybe abandoning Zoom cause on a regular basis, and maybe doing some meetings bringing their teams together, doing kickoffs, a lot of corporate meetings.” One reason for the surge in small meetings, he explained, is that “there was an expectation that more people would come back to a normal environment working in an office. And that’s just not happening to the degree people have expected. So, there’s a need to do culture building and to meet team players.”

A new automated prospecting tool—Knowland Select—is designed for limited-service hotels that focus on the small meetings market. “Our sweet spot for the Select product is hotels that have less than 3,000 square feet of meeting space,” said Bzdawka. Subscribers are emailed a curated list of target accounts for upcoming need periods. Like AEP, Knowland Select is an example of a tech product that homes in on fundamental needs that Haussmann and Melchiorri cited, specifically efficiency and human connection. The automation makes prospecting more efficient, and limited-service hotels are thereby better positioned to facilitate small gatherings.

As long as a tech product meets fundamental needs, generational preferences will not greatly impact its success in the marketplace, the presenters maintained. While such a product may appeal more to younger consumers, it will still resonate universally, an example being Pathways. Recently launched by Hovr, this mobile marketing tool gives potential guests a choice of video content that shows the features of the hotel that match their interests. The experience is modeled on popular platforms such as TikTok, Instagram Stories, and YouTube Shorts, and as such, the marketing approach would seem most appropriate for Gen Y. But in actuality, all generations respond to the convenience of an immersive, customized visual presentation of their prospective hotel choice.

Speaking with LODGING at HITEC, Jason Craparo, CEO of Hovr, said, “I think anyone, regardless of age, wants to know what their experience is going to be like before they arrive.” So, while preferences and aptitudes can vary across generations when it comes to technology, “at the end of the day, people are people, whether it be Baby Boomers, Gen X, or Gen Y,” Melchiorri asserted. That guarantees the value of any technology that enhances comfort, convenience, efficiency, or interpersonal connection.

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George Seli is the editor of LODGING.