You Will Pay the Hotel with your Mobile

iBeacon, the digital beacon that could transform into not delaying the most popular payment system because of its simplicity, range or virtual interconnection between the buyer and the seller. It’s my daily routine in New York. If I don’t get to take the metro, I hail a taxi from the thousands that go up and down on the streets. A soon as I get in, I take out my iPhone and open the apps Uber or Way2Ride, which most cab drivers are affiliated with. As soon as the app starts, two buttons appear: I Need a Taxi, which will help me locate one in case I’m living outside radio range, and I’m in the Taxi, which will mark me as being in a cab already. And that’s it. Once I’ve reached my destination, as the ad suggest on TV’s cab, I open the door, and give the cabbie that took me there a warming bye-bye.

In New York it’s becoming a habit to not pay for taxis, or even some trifle sold in Macy’s stores. Soon it will not be required to pay for travel by subway, or lunch at the restaurant on the corner. By this I mean, it is not paid in cash, or by credit card. The various applications connect to the taxi system, the cashier in the department stores and restaurant, consequently simplifying the payment process, which is obviously automatic and billed to the bank account or credit card. Couldn’t be easier.

For several years it has been speculated with the emergence of NFC (Near Field Communications) on mobiles, that it will expand to all models and operating systems. Of course, my iPhone does not have it. And maybe at this rate, it will never have it. Apple announced in mid-2013 their newest technology, iBeacon, integrated already on its iOS Mavericks 7 and OSX operating systems. As its name indicates, iBeacon is a beacon that transmits over the new low-energy-consumption Bluetooth (BLE) the position of the nearest mobile to the system’s center detector. Someone might tell me this is no different than a GPS and for that function a proclamation like this one wasn’t necessary.

But let’s study it deeper and think about its utility in the tourism industry. Let’s imagine a store, a restaurant or a hotel detects the presence of my mobile nearby and, as I am walking, it passes me the shopping list, the things missing from my fridge, the update on one or another device or app, the deal that would fit me like a ring on finger today, or the news that U2 will be giving a concert within an hour, two blocks from here. Or that my favorite, Antonio Muñoz Molina, is book-signing in the building in front. Of course, everything along with some discount coupons, loyalty proposals and some other freebies.

One difference with the NFC technology is, the iBeacon doesn’t need to be attached to the receptor. The real tracking on the mobile is resolved through triangulation as follows by these patterns: iBeacon #3491035 is captured within 5 meters distance, iBeacon #3452435 within 20 meters and iBeacon #9045902 within 50 meters. Along with the Apple iOS 7, any Android with Bluetooth and firmware above 4.3 can receive the same signal.

A lot of us have the impression that the world’s financial system will not survive the last crisis. Or at least, the system how we know it. The banks are low, that’s why it wouldn’t be strange if they end up being replaced by other type of entity – better growing, globalized, flexible and community-oriented. I’m not only thinking about the potential in crowdfunding, but also on Google’s, Amazon’s and Apple’s virtuality. What will happen if one day Larry Page killed the Santander Bank’s owner Emilio Botin? The national coins will surely not survive this century, even though bitcoins haven’t made it as a digital, global and transborder alternative for dollars. Humanity will have to ask itself, what are coins worth when most people are choosing the ways of electronic accounting entry?

Before all that, plastic will become obsolete. And this is where I wanted to go with the eulogy of iBeacon, the digital beacon that could transform into not delaying the most popular payment system because of its simplicity, range or virtual interconnection between the buyer and the seller. It’s true that Google Wallet has been working for a couple of years in the US, but it hasn’t finish starting and there are very few stores that have implemented this sensitive terminal. The times I’ve tried it – at Macy’s, of course – it didn’t meet my needs, because the payment is done with a backup credit card, so, where does the benefit come into effect?

The interesting part of iBeacon is its ease of use, an intuitive turn characterized in Apple products. “The mobile payment has always been behind the idea of ID Touch,” the financial director of Apple, Peter Oppenheimer, declared a few days back. And the one responsible for iTunes and the App Store, Eddy Cue, comes highlighted in the Wall Street Journal that the company will be launching very soon a mobile payment option through iOS devices. Easy to believe… But part of the job’s already done. Differentiating from Google, which doesn’t have many affiliates on their Wallet, Apple possesses more than 575 million accounts in iTunes linked to credit cards, that saves us the hassle of creating a new account to start using the system. Apple also possesses hundreds of millions of iPhones and iPads in the whole world, prepared to activate their mobile payment app with a single tap.

iBeacon is being used today in trial mode in all Apple stores in the United States to send information about their products to an iOS device when the visitor passes in front of certain products. The eve of the Superbowl in New York was fertile grounds, with the visit of billions of tourists to the city to test the new system. And, you know, it worked. Easily. Without embedding a special chip expected by NFC.

Forrester Research predicts that US consumers will spend 90 billion dollars through mobile payments in 2017. Assume that the vast majority of these payments will be made using the ID Touche sensor incorporated by stock to every iPhone 5S. To a good listener, a few words are enough.

Because I guess in this hotel from the year 2020 that we will project an ecosystem of mobile payment with touch sensors, active from beginning to end of the instance, even before the booking and after completing the experience, when the memory enters your positive REM phase. Join me in this journey through the emotions we anticipate in the various # Hotel2020 seminars as we celebrate throughout the Spanish geography and some cities in Latin America. Would you like a glass of wine? The amount is automatically saved to your account, which you can monitor in the iBeacon app. A spa therapy outside the schedule? Take it; you will immediately find its reflection in your iBeacon account. A pay-per-view movie in your room? While streaming, your iTunes account downloads another film on the house.

With these kinds of micropayments, invoices as we know them may disappear. Hotels may also delete the price chart. The low-cost pricing model may even be imposed, whereby each consumer will be charged separately with consent of your fingerprint on the iPhone. Yes, WiFi apart, cosmetics aside, TV, air conditioning, hours of consumption for light and hot water.

Because, in the future, the only way to issue a single invoice with “all included” will be packaging an experience. As in the cinema, the theater or the opera, you do not pay for sitting, in the hotel of the future you won’t pay for a bed. The ticket entitles you to see a show. Hotel curtain opens … What do you feel? An unprecedented excitement.

Fernando Gallardo |

Airbnb and the unalienable right to exist

Owners of a house rented by airBnB

Guess, guess … What would be the biggest dream of an hotelier? No doubt, it would be that homeownership was prohibited. If it were up to the tourist industry, citizens would be obliged by law to rent a hotel room … of course.

No, the idea is not surreal. This is what follows from the hotel lobby actions against the explosion of the phenomenon of residential exchanges. The Airbnb concept today moves more than 9 million passengers worldwide. The lodging on offer surpasses the figure of 500,000 units, from single rooms to multi-housing properties in 33,000 cities in over 190 countries. If we compare these figures with those of hotel empires such as Marriott International, which manages 3,800 hotels and 666,000 rooms, the conclusion drawn by the dean of the division of the Preston Robert Tisch Center, Bjorn Hanson, is that Airbnb is “the biggest brand of accommodation in the world.” And it has achieved that in just seven years.

Airbnb was founded by three Americans – Nathan Blecharczyk, Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky – in 2007. After the legend of startups born in a garage, the idea was the development of an ecosystem based on accommodating friends. They called it Air, because they thought they would lodge them using inflatable mattresses, and BnB, for bed and breakfast.

At first no one took them seriously, which should have been of concern to some executives of multinational hotel connoisseurs of the ‘garage effect’ coined by Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Larry Page, and others. Even the established companied cheered their backpacking ease by the immediacy with which they would find accommodation for tourist left behind in cases of absolute no more vacant rooms in hotels. The current mayor of Barcelona came to stop by their office during the Mobile World Congress because hotels were full, reports Molly Turner, legal responsible for Airbnb.

Then came the discordant voices, those who alerted the tourism industry that the American startup was pressing prices down and tarnishing the name of the city, as it happened in the most chic areas of New York, the Upper East Side and the Upper West Side, where a luxury hotel room can cost $ 3,900 per night with occupancy around 90 percent. It is said that two years ago, the hotels in these areas had come to have an occupancy rate of 95 percent, but because of Airbnb the current rate has fallen to 90 percent. And then the lobbies began to move, spreading from New York to Chicago, Barcelona, Madrid, Amsterdam and many other tourist cities.

A wave of corporatism has hit even the most liberal countries these days, which have broken the tradition of no state intervention just for a pittance in the tourist business, if we compare Airbnb with other powerfulmultinationals. Barcelona has banned renting houses for the time the owner pleases. And in New York, the ban that no one follows affects only houses that are rented for less than 29 days. Naturally, this decree is subject to dispute, as the state governor must explain to citizens why a home is rentable for more than 29 days and not 25 or 40. It also raises the question whether this ban will legally reach hotels, some of which have popularized having guests for life.

Would a theater company scheduling touring sessions have to switch hotels each month? It is assumed that the ruling also outlaws the act of subleasing. And what about other leases such as rustic resorts, many of whom make contracts for the whole ski or beach season? Nor should other rental fields escape these irrational standard effects, like renting an excavator, a chainsaw or a car. Should we change vehicles exactly every 29 days? There is no sensible argument to differentiate between renting a room and renting a delivery van.

This precedent is very negative for the tourism industry because it weakens the offer. Not only  does it put obstacles on free enterprise, but it also exposes its more conservative and inept facet for innovation. Various reports in recent weeks indicate that the activity of Airbnb hardly affects hotel billing by 15 percent. It is certainly too early to determine exactly the influence of home exchange portals on the hotel industry, but there is evidence that it’s very different from the hotel market, just as the hostels consumer market is very different from traditional hotels. These lobby actions delegitimize innovative hoteliers who should denounce the irrationality of this standard and disengage from the cheesy hotel industry sector.

“The hotel demand will remain strong in the coming years, thanks to increased corporate spending and leisure,” said a recent report by PwC consulting firm. David Hantman, director of Airbnb, denies that the phenomenon significantly affects the profitability of hotels, as it is a particular business that is even beneficial for the community: “Eighty-seven percent of renters in New York offer a room in their house and carefully choose who they accept in. The money they earn with this extra is what allows them to make ends meet. “And he insists that the average Airbnb traveler is 35 years old, while the host is on average 38. “This puts them away from the backpacker profile and indicates that this is not only about finding a low cost accommodation, but about having a different experience to the hotel,” he concludes.

The hotel industry has a new pain in the neck with this exchange system. That, in essence, is the same system of P2P exchanges, which the recording industry unsuccessfully resisted. Lest the hotel industry not get involved in the same puddle and end up, just like the record industry, finished by popular will. It should neither assume the operation of this new digital economy will finish them, lest not the Jurassic Park of hotel business ask for a Google rate like the one that has been approved in Spain with the Copyright Act.

It should be wise, then, to take this P2P controversy to the terrain of wisdom, imagination and understanding of a new reality imposed by the use of the Internet. Let’s talk about taxes, which is the unfairness under which many of the detractors of Airbnb shield themselves. What is the tax burden that should be borne by this and other residential exchange companies? Obviously, those derived from their activity, like any tourist company. No other, as the attorney general of New York unsuccessfully sought. Not the ones derived from the business, but those derived of their own activity. Just like the hotel booking centers do not face taxes for the overall turnover tax reserves but for the commissionable rate, exchange centrals should only bear the burden of their taxable commissionable rate. Airbnb insists that the payment of other taxes is a matter between the homeowners and the administration. Each booking is only between 6 percent and 12 percent .

And herein lays the crux of the matter: How to relativize paying taxes for a neighbor who’s not subject to the scrutiny of quarterly tax returns, costly accounting, transparent billing, and the collecting selflessness of the taxpayer. How can we implement an open, responsive and transparent system in which the Treasury only charges for the time of the transaction itself? Especially in a country like Spain, affected by an alleged six million unemployed workers and an estimated informal economy of 30 percent. Picaresque, or tax inefficient?

If that which worries hotels is the taxation of competition, it is reasonable to require a fair taxation system, but unreasonable to seek the ban of the activity. If the hotel lobby itself does not practice market freedom with their peers, with what face will they defend a redundancy or closure of businesses?

 “Wealth is like salt water; the more the more we drink, the thirstier we become,” said Schopenhauer. 

Fernando Gallardo |

Uber Is a State Problem

Uber4Uber is in luck. The assessment that Bloomberg made in late May that the company is worth $18 billion could have fallen short. Its business could now grow more quickly than anticipated due to the taxi strike in several European cities. If someone thought that it would take time for Uber to gain a foothold in an already saturated market of P2P applications, they could not have chosen a worse time: taxi drivers around the world have joined to publicize Uber.

The taxi collective was already taking time to demonstrate their slyness, but no one can stop the P2P phenomenon, despite what taxi drivers, coach tour operators, hoteliers, travel agents, publishers or musicians insist. That’s not to mention what is coming for merchants, where Amazon is king; the telcos, towards which Google is moving with its balloon satellite connectivity project; the entire industrial sector, which some naively seek to revive in Spain with the rise of 3D printing; physicians, whom will be recycled into health programmers in the face of the development of nanotechnology; and politicians themselves, who not only suffer the from the boredom of the citizen, but are ultimately overwhelmed by an intrusive system organized in social networks.

Is this the tourism we need, ask the aforementioned groups? Certainly yes, and more in Spain than anywhere else. Many tourists find it more comfortable and convenient to travel in a vehicle than on a shared bus. Not all buses are equal, of course, but whoever has traveled by bus knows that besides Alsa and a few other enterprises, comfort and safety are not the strengths of most. Those who have retained the services of a travel agency are just as likely to have been served by brilliant people as by trained amateurs ready to press the button of a booking or arrange a tour from an agency online, accessible to all citizens without the need to go to a physical branch. What guarantees do young people that are used to sharing their experience with other young people in any given city hostel need? The tour packages automatically assembled on the Internet without wholesalers, provide greater value to the citizens than revenues to the pockets of some. And in regards to the hotel sector, the serialization of the offer has ended up causing boredom in travelers, whom have now found an outlet, local drive and set prices in the rental of private homes, which also has caused animosity in the tourism establishment.

There is no deception. Tourism requires a new mood, a new vision, new business models and, above all, losing the dandruff on the shirt of the so-called collaborative economy. Deafness to the advent of the digital society leads to a drift, professional or of the sector, as the above groups have shown. Taxi drivers were added to the deafness of those who today call for a more open, transparent and efficient economy. Professional intrusion can only be sustained from the sect, from those who defend privileges before services, who dig into the past before hearing the arguments for building the future.

It is true that taxi drivers have faced sudden competition from private drivers, as journalists were with bloggers and hotels by common citizens’ comments posted on social networks and review websites. But the way to face the future is not necessarily to blackmail citizens through a strike or lockout, simply because time is lost before the arguments for negotiation.

The group argues that the taxi license ensures the safety and comfort of passengers. This is false. I am a regular user of Uber and I can assure you that the black cars are more comfortable, newer and safer than most vehicles used as taxis, both in Madrid and New York. In the latter city, where taxi drivers also have spoken out against Uber, the drivers, with scary yellow rickety vehicles, are usually quite unpleasant and the atmosphere inside the taxi becomes unbearable sometimes. The city, which awards them their licenses, does not select them or dismantle their internal mafias. This is quite the opposite of Uber, which instructs its drivers to introduce themselves and be clean and well uniformed, with sleek vehicles and excellent punctuality. What’s more, the color chosen for their corporate vehicles is black, the epitome of luxury and exclusivity.

Another argument put forward by the group above is the meter, which the Uber car saves on when they must pass various reviews and technical approvals. And why have a meter when Uber offers rates agreed upon and known in advance by the user? The case is different when you do not know where to go, and then you use a meter limitlessly.

Pay taxes like everyone else. This has been said of Uber, Cabify, Blablacar, Airbnb and many other companies that have landed in the economy thanks to the Internet. The argument is impeccable, but it misses a more accurate assessment of our tax system. What kind of tax? Who, where, and when? What is the cost of collecting the required processing prerogative? Because if equality is pursued, then you have to want the same taxes for all, without falling into a contradiction or unambiguously positive discrimination. In the end, it’s all discrimination. A separate issue is that there are drivers that are scammers. There are also political that are scammers, scammers in the hotel industry, taxi drivers that are scammers, musicians that are scammers, politicians that are scammers, and so on.

Let’s say that granting a license to drive taxis is the power of the state. Let’s say that the state is the guarantor of protecting consumers. Let’s also concede that the state gives the rules of use, taxi technology, knowledge of driving and even determines the color of the vehicle for this activity. Is it not unreasonable to think that states, formed when humanity was not connected or possessed the current technological assets, will continue to function in the digital age with the same rules, powers, privileges and centralizing role they play today? That’s the key to understanding the problem of the taxi, home exchange, pirated music and collaborative consumption in general. The Internet has changed our lives, although we many not want to admit it. We are already changing our way of thinking, to organize our lives.

More than ever, P2P is a state problem, otherwise conceived by our state.

Fernando Gallardo |

Big Data, the Next Challenge

La Provincia newspaper of Las Palmas interviewed me on the occasion of the Sixth Hotel Innovation Conference of “La Ruina Habitada” held from November 18 to 21, 2013 at Nautilus Lanzarote Hotel. 

Big Data is the next challenge of the tourism industry

How will customer Big Data analysis revolutionize tourism?

In the immediate future, there will be a change in attracting customers. There will be a difference between the traditional way of attracting a customer-colloquially, casting the fishing line-and how the customer is going to come in upcoming years. Big Data analytics will profoundly change distribution channels because the way of attracting customers will be precisely focused on knowing them. The more you know your customer, the more possibilities you will have to attract him or her to your business.

It will be a new challenge for the tourism industry.

You have to do a serious, costly, ambitious and very technological job of knowing the customer. The most foreseeable way is for this to be done through powerful Big Data analytics. Big Data will enable predictive models which, through tracking customer footprints, everyone and everything will be a sensor. It is predicted that there will be 212 billion connectors on the planet by the year 2020 that will be interrelated without cables through computers and data communication. In that ostentatious amount of data that are going to be managed, the management system will afford an unheard of knowledge of travelers’ movements thanks to data cross referencing. Distribution channels will gradually fall into the hands of purely technological companies that will be the only ones able to face enormous investments in developing Big Data analytics.

So what would be the specific task assigned to short-term tourism businesses?

The most effective way for the hotel industry to attract customers is through pampering, care and developing the product. The tourism business is nothing more than making travelers happy. Therefore, before dedicating effort toward selling beds, producing and channeling hotel, airplane and restaurant reservations or those of any other tourist sub-sector, what the tourism entrepreneur with a future should make it his or her priority to take care of the product, which should be consistent and innovative. That is the strategy deployed by the largest company on the planet, Apple, which has been fundamentally known for taking care of the product. The customer comes only if you have a unique product that is differentiated and overwhelmingly singular.

Innovating is not easy. Do you dare provide the key that will make it come true?

Innovation is not improving processes but rather changing them. Therefore, there is no pattern of innovation that can state that what I do to benefit my idea, product or company is better than another. Anything that I do differently and that contributes toward making my business more positive from a stance of financial efficiency or personal satisfaction of the experience engaged in or offered entails an innovation. Innovating is difficult, but it can be tackled from an angle of singularity. If people are all different, it is incomprehensible for products to be the same.

How would that innovation translate into revenue?

Innovation not only generates more revenue, it is capable of turning a small business, as Apple was ten years ago, into the leading company on the globe. Therefore, innovation is the main source of value. Hotel innovations have contributed immediate aspects to revenue and an example is the success of entrepreneur Abel Matutes Jr. after renovating a very old hotel in the most run-down part of Ibiza. He achieved an innovative product by differentiating that hotel. Innovation through exploiting social network resources, Ushuaia’s orientation toward music and the DJ scene has turned that hotel into the most expensive hotel in Spain during the peak season at 850 euros per night.

The debate about Big Data elicits both favorable and unfavorable opinions. Many citizens say they feel spied on when they surf Internet. Can you avoid being part of Big Data?

I am aware of that big debate that is arising out of the positive consequences and not so much about Big Data in the corporate venue. The scandal of the US NSA (National Security Agency) has brought consequences and created a huge debate. Many citizens say they feel spied on when they surf Internet and I think that they’re right. They should not only be aware of being spied on but rather that they in fact are. The obvious extrapolation is when we go out into the street, we’re already being spied on—not only to engage in work or play, but to be seen. It’s something that is inherent to being human. If you don’t want to be spied on, vanish from the technological map.

Sites like Tripadvisor are taking on increasingly more importance among those who decide on a hotel, restaurant or other services. Do users prefer other customers’ opinions as opposed to specialized guides?

It is without a doubt a big change that has occurred in the tourism industry. Tripadvisor, Booking, Trivago… are gathering the opinions of customers and non-customers or from the hoteliers themselves who battle each other with organized campaigns to give false opinions. All of that creates an order of prescription that modifies the value of perception and we see how travel guides that used to be printed are no longer sold. ♦

Bad service in the night

The example described is a sign of the poor, uneducated and inhibited care of female customers present in most tourist establishments.

In one of the existing accommodation forums on Facebook, where the tourism trade is a clear channel of opinion in which to consult or communicate union troubles, the following text jumped to my screen. It was published a few days ago and the author does not need to be disclosed:

A couple interns call around midnight to ask about availability and will be arriving at the hotel around 2 a.m. Russians. At 4:15 a.m., one called her from the room and it went like this:

Riiin Riing!
– Reception, goodnight.
+ Hello, good evening, look, it’s that I have a female … hhhmmm … URGENCY and I need help.
– What is it? Can you be a little more specific about it so we can help?
+ How do you say … A female emergency, you know what I mean?
– Well, honestly, if you don’t specify the urgency, I cannot offer more help.
+ Hhhmmmm … An urgency on … hhhmmmmm, “the period.”
– OK, I understand, we could provide a towel in any case, if you want. Can you wait until tomorrow to buy tampons or pads in the nearest pharmacy?
+ And there is no woman that you can call or you can help me that’s awake at this hour?
– Well, honestly, it’s 4.15 in the morning and I don’t think I’m ready to wake anyone for that urgency.
+ Okay, and the closest pharmacy?
– Well, actually, you go there in any case.

And so, at 5 a.m. they went to the nearest pharmacy to buy tampons.

I don’t know if such situations occur repeatedly in hotels, but it has happened and its resolution should make us think very seriously about what you would expect from an emergency night experience at a hotel.

The receptionist showed a remarkable lack of reflexes, but concedes the benefit of their nocturnal biorhythms differing empirically from those who have daylight hours. Another obvious shortcoming is the receptionist’s limited empathy with women Continue reading

Goodbye to the reception desk

bell concierge blueI arrived very late at night. From the outside the hotel looked closed, inhospitable. The lights were off. The night shift employee was lying on a couch. I opened the sliding glass doors, and glanced over to see a monolithic figure of a uniformed person behind a dark service desk. The person didn’t look up. He just gestured in the comfort of his usual position. If anything, he only gave me formal greeting as I approached him, carrying my bags. His eyes were hidden behind thick lenses, inscrutable in the gloom. His breathing, even thicker than his glasses, evidenced the nocturnal condition. He accomplished his work with merit from the first moment, when he asked for my passport, the three mandatory signatures and a credit card… «As a guarantee that you will not leave without paying,» he added, with the courtesy he learned at the hospitality school. That was the receptionist.

That was last week. But it could have happened any night last month, last year, or at the end of the millennium. Or at any other time in my childhood when the kindness of the agent was complimented with a «May God be with you for many years.» The reception has always been the sanctum sanctorum of the bureaucracy in the hotel industry. That strange job where, instead of welcoming guests and helping to relieve them from the inconvenience of traveling, they are hindered with the regular processing of their registration and assurance of their purchasing power. An instant hold in that travel momentum, the memory of which always reminds me of a teller window of the treasury or the lottery office, without the urgency of the first or the exciting disorder of the second. Continue reading

Give back to Dhooghe what is Dhooghe’s and to Michelin what is Michelin’s

a chef

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The discussion borders on the absurd. And the news has just been released in social networks after my notice, that the Belgian chef, Fredrick Dhooghe, who runs a restaurant in Flanders, awarded with a Michelin star, has requested his withdrawal from this guide. It’s not the first time that a request of this type has ocurred, nor the first that has come to me from hotel establishments reluctant to my reviews. “Against the vice of asking, is the virtue of not giving” has been my motto for the three long decades that I’ve been publishing my reviews and guides in EL PAIS. “Easy: close the restaurant” has been my answer to today’s tweet.

Dhooghe, owner of restaurant t’Huis van Lede, located in Wannegem-Lede, near Ghent, also requested not to appear in the French guide Gault & Millau, through a registered letter asserting that his decision is final. It’s not clear, however, whether his final decision was to send the letter or the predetermination of interfering in the private affairs of the pneumatic publication, in which case his desideratum would be a clear threat to free enterprise and freedom of expression. Continue reading

Blacklists of conflicting clients

Blacklists of conflicting clientsAfter the controversy over false reviews on sites like TripAdvisor, I have held a debate about the blacklists that several tourism platforms have created over conflicting guests. This initiative, which allows subscribers to view the list of problematicpassengers, may affect the right to honor or freedom of expression in the words of some shysters. The Spanish economic newspaper Expansion has just published a reference I want to comment on here. Not from the law perspective, but from common sense that marks every principle of reciprocity.

According to the Charter of the United Nations, the signing states apply and develop the right to free expression – an inalienable right of every person to communicate what they think and how they think it. This right prevails in some countries like the United States, even on top of other constitutional rights such as honor, privacy and self-image. So much so that successive actions against TripAdvisor have not matched punitive judgments by the courts, except in exceptional cases.  Continue reading

Tools for Hotel Renovation

Keys for hotel renovation

Five years of low prices and almost no activity in the hotel industry in the countries most affected by the global financial crisis have depleted maintenance budgets, undermining the resistance of hoteliers and bed-and-breakfast business owners, as well as destroying the mood to continue investing, working and innovating. The alerts have been activated on all fronts.

We recognize that a high percentage of the hotel business of today is outdated in its facilities and paralyzed in a segment of customers that is focused on their pension rather than on a vacation. New travelers will arrive with different customs, wanting different services and looking for different facilities. Thus, the viability of the tourism business lies on understanding the changes that are taking place.

A redefinition of the industry is critical, as well as a professional service update, and a gradual renewal of existing infrastructures. These suggestions are clearly similar to what happened years ago, centuries ago, with the preservation and enhancement of the architectural heritage. When they wanted to undertake the rehabilitation of quite a few churches, convents, palaces and historical facades, the required budgets were endless due to the destruction caused by the abandonment. Only the technology and the political awareness of the problem was such that in just half a century, Spain got to the top of the list on the world heritage of humanity published by UNESCO. Continue reading

Google Opens a New Door to Tourism

Google is a technological and cultural freshness in the antipodes of the tourism “experts” and their undecipherable jargon

Google began selling its digital glasses in the United States, although access has been limited for now to the category (mass) of the “explorers” or early adopters as they are known in marketing speak. They’re probably not as comfortable as those of us who have already tried them had expected, nor as functional nor as ultra-sensitive. But they most certainly open the door to better futures, and especially, to a new digital era coined with the IoT brand, Internet of Things.

I’m convinced that Google, whose New York offices I was able to visit recently like someone who snoops at the Pentagon, has also been called on to be a front-and-center player in the tourism industry of the future. The glasses will enable up-and-coming generations to record their purchases on Fifth Avenue and the panoramic view shots de rigueur from the observation deck of the Empire State Building. First it will be through that monstrous contraption holding a prism that is hardly adaptable to graduated optics and its delicate frames. Later with graphene nanotubes inserted in microscopically thin contact lenses. Finally with organic brain impulse readers like the ones emitted by our eyes’ optic nerve. Their detractors will not have time to react: the glasses disturbing their intimacy will be invisible. Continue reading