The other day I skyped with an old colleague RP (Rui Rebelo) to learn about the latest trends in the Hospitality business. I wanted to know how travelers expect to experience and what tools will change or influence the industry.

RP joined a company called GuestU about a year ago. Their mission is to become the in-destination app solution for hoteliers and apartment owners to provide a unique personalized experience to each guest while they are in town.

RP is young driven marketer and outstanding guitar player who lives in Lisbon, Portugal. So let’s find out what RP has to say.

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RP tell me what are the major fundamental shifts happening in the hospitality industry?

RP: The hospitality Industry is facing a tremendous change over the last years. In 2014 over a billion tourists traveled abroad. Travelers expect a more informed and collaborative travel experience, driven by the growing functionalities of mobile devices.

Following this new trend, hoteliers are struggling to increase their business revenue out of the mobile channel. With over 50% of searches now happen on mobile devices, bet on a strong digital strategy is crucial for success.

New Marketing Buzz Words emerge such as Scent Marketing and Virtual Reality Marketing. How do they become relevant for a better consumer experience?

Scent Marketing and Virtual Reality are still in an early stage, expecting to go massive within the next couple of years, with players like Facebook, Google or Samsung as drivers. These technologies and others such as Machine Learning and Place Learning algorithms happening on the digital market are key to provide the customer with the most personalized experience ever.

RP what are some of the new technology tools having a great impact on how people experience travel?

RP: Definitely Mobile Apps have now an important role on the way people travel abroad. In particular Uber and Airbnb have created a new opportunity in the market and travelers are now using these digital solutions to have a better and more local travel experience. Also, a personalized travel city guide app that provides users with local insider tips according to the trip profile, the type of accommodation and the destination city is now a key topic in the travel market. Clarice App is aiming to be the disruptive app for travelers worldwide by providing those features and a live chat travel expert where travelers can ask anything related with their travel and get an immediate response by real humans travel experts. Travel Global like a local is indeed what travelers are seeking currently.

What is a must have for every hotel or hospitality provider fort their online presence to differentiate and stay competitive in a world where everything is mobile?

RP: For the hospitality industry, regardless of the number of beds or service level, it is now critical to bet o

n a branded mobile concierge app to engage with guests and provide them the best experience ever while they are staying at the accommodation.GuestU provides a SaaS white-label hospitality app to help hoteliers increase their revenue by promoting and up-selling hotel services and improve the guest experience with a digital concierge offering GPS Guided Routes, Handy nearby places and events happening in-destination.

How are small hospitality providers such as Boutique Hotels, AirBnB, , Time Shares need to do in order to compete with the big hotel chains or travel sites?

RP: Providing the guests with the best experience, before, during and after the stay is critical to engage with potential guests. Also, investing in a strong digital strategy, in terms of SEO, mobile channel or loyalty programs is a must.

RP now a couple of personal questions.

What is the greatest guitar player of all times?

RP: David Gilmore

What 5 legendary personalities (alive or dead) would you invite at your house for dinner?

RP: Jim Morrison, Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Franz Kafka and Albert Einstein

What’s the last thing you googled?

RP: Beacon technology

What is on your bucket list for exotic travel destinations?

RP: Vietnam and India are on my priority list!