Travel Disruption Summit Track Preview: Hospitality

In advance of next month’s Travel Disruption Summit, we’re publishing a series of posts previewing each of the content tracks featured at the conference: Hospitality, Aviation and Tourism. This week, we’re starting with key questions around hospitality. You can browse the full program and the latest speakers added to the lineup here.

As the second annual Travel Disruption Summit fast approaches, we’re excited to be gathering some of the most impactful leaders in the travel industry to contribute to this year’s program. This year, the morning portion of the day will feature sessions oriented around primary content tracks: Aviation, Hospitality, and Tourism. Within those sessions, we will focus on the hottest topics -- from loyalty to operations, distribution, payments and more -- as they relate to each vertical.  

“In the hospitality track, experts from all sides of the industry will be sharing perspectives on emerging models and infrastructure, the post-sharing economy business landscape, creative uses of infrastructure and inventory, optimizing technology in the guest experience, and working within a nuanced ecosystem of property owners, management companies, and brands.”

This week we caught up with Arlo Hotels’ Javier Egipcicao and Venuebook’s Kelsey Recht to find out what’s on their minds leading into the Summit. Here’s a preview to some of what will be shared and explored on May 22nd:

Hospitality Mainstage: Arlo Hotels’ Javier Egipcicao and Venuebook’s Kelsey Recht

On the main stage in hospitality, Managing Director of Arlo Hotels Javier Egipcicao will host a fireside chat with Venuebook CEO Kelsey Recht, diving into the startup’s breakthroughs in dynamic booking models for hotels. In this convergence of supplier and tech provider, we'll see what shifts can be made to perfect hotel inventory - making for better yields, and thus better amenities that can be passed down to the travelers.

We asked Javier and Kelsey what topics they’re most eager to explore at the Summit, and what they see as some of the good and bad in hotel operations and vendor relationships.

Which topics you are most eager to explore at TDS?


Javier Egipcicao, Arlo Hotels: Naturally, I'm excited for the Hospitality Session. I was able to take part in the Hotel Pitch Night last September, and really enjoyed hearing from young start-ups in the travel space. I'm looking forward to the return of the start-up pitches, because who knows what clever new concepts they'll bring to the table! I'm interested in the Aviation Session, given all of the major disruptions currently taking place. The airline industry is facing some serious challenges, so it will be interesting to hear from insiders on what's next. In general, the hospitality industry is constantly shifting to meet evolving guest expectations, so the Pitch Sessions will definitely be addressing some major challenges as well.


Kelsey Recht, Venuebook: Though the world has become interconnected and more “open source,” hospitality lags behind in terms of connectivity, and in many ways still feels like the Wild West. These days there’s high demand for interconnectivity from hoteliers, which is going up against the difficult process for integrations and system integration approvals. Two other topics I’ve been thinking about are commissions and Airbnb. The commission landscape is shifting quickly, as large hospitality brands flex their buying power. Then there’s the movement of Airbnb more aggressively into hotels, meetings, and events. As the company diversifies, it’s something to watch -- they have a lot of cash on hand.

What are the qualities of a good vendor/hotel relationship?

KR: It's all about shared goals, and driving profitable revenue to both the hotel and the vendor. With game-changing technologies like VenueBook, it’s imperative that the brand or property manager understands -- and believes in -- the future technology vision. If not, rollout and adoption will be unsuccessful.   

JE: Constant open dialogue, transparency, and a willingness of both parties to go above and beyond.

What are some of the toughest operational challenges faced by hotels today?

JE: The biggest challenge is one that has historically been a priority, and that's managing the guest expectations. Understanding who your core customer is and crafting the guest experience around this customer remains a focal point for Arlo and many other hotels. Technology and general expectations change daily.  

KR: Labor in a tight labor market is significant. This may lead to investments in technology to further guest experience because the hotels cannot hire enough employees to service demand. Hotels want to align technology with guest expectations but the difficulty of interconnectivity holds back rollout and adoption.   

Hear from Kelsey, Javier and more leaders making an impact in travel innovation at the Travel Disruption Summit on May 22nd, 2019 in New York City. Visit our website to check out the latest speakers and program updates, and apply to attend here! Have a startup concept or idea for the travel industry? Apply here to pitch to an audience of elite travel professionals and receive a free conference ticket if selected.