HCJ 2023 is one of Japan’s major hospitality events, attended by industry professionals from all over Japan and Asia. The first event in a series organized by HOTERES opened the new year with a promising outlook on travel in Japan and the fields of hospitality and food service.
This year’s event was especially important as it took place soon after the 2021 number-one travel destination in the world, reopened to welcome inbound travelers from all over the globe.
The four-day event showed cutting-edge technology, amenities, and the latest trends in the hotel and F&B industry. The Aiello team had the pleasure to take part and experience the professional community around HOTERES first-hand, but perhaps most importantly, bring the industry crowd closer to Voice AI technology and our Aiello Voice Assistant (AVA).
So here are our key takeaways and how we think Voice AI technology will shape the future of the hospitality industry in Japan.
Omotenashi, or warm, high-touch service, is the core value of Japanese hoteliers.
HCJ 2023 confirmed that digital guest experience (DX) is the hottest buzzword in the Japanese hotel industry at the moment. DX can help reduce wait times, streamline processes, and eliminate friction points in the guest experience, which allows hotel staff to focus on delivering impeccable services and thus providing a more personalized experience to the guests.
Digitalizing services also helps hotels address staffing shortages that have been shaking up the industry in Japan and worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the importance of hotel safety and introduced contactless services and new hygiene measures.
Technologies such as mobile check-in, keyless entry, digital payments, and digital concierge services will improve the guest experience while reducing costs and increasing revenue. DX will play a major role in helping Japanese hotels remain competitive in a changing industry and provide better services and experiences to their guests.
Attending this event and seeing so many exhibiting companies focusing on functions to solve labor shortages, we were reminded once again that the hospitality industry is infamously known for insufficient compensation and demanding working conditions worldwide. After the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses struggle to fill open positions and retain existing staff.
With the increasing volume of inbound tourists coming to Japan, staffing shortages are especially serious in Japan. Staffing crisis is an ongoing battle; the key industry players must work together to invent and implement new ways of thinking to mitigate the impact of it.
The HCJ2023 featured several guest management technologies that augment hotel operations such as PMS, channel management, revenue management, task management, or housekeeping systems, with the goal to improve operations and to run hotels in a better and smoother way but with fewer resources.
Self-service and delivery robots were among the most featured exhibits at the HCJ2023 event. While many companies are developing robots for the hospitality industry as a solution to both solve labor shortages and keep up with DX trends, and Japan is regarded as one of the countries at the forefront of technology, the adoption of robots in hotels has been relatively slow.
One reason for this is the high cost of introducing and maintaining robots, which can be a significant investment for many hotels.
On the other hand, intelligent solutions such as Voice AI, are very attractive for hotels to help face labor shortages, keep a high level of service, and create an easy digital experience. Voice AI requires less hardware and easily integrates into the hotels’ tech ecosystems. Voice assistants also work for hotels of all sizes, ranging from international chains to boutique hotels or even homestays.
It also requires no significant training for guests or staff to use, allowing for faster and more seamless implementation.
Through this HCJ2023 event, we further felt the importance of Voice AI and the acceleration of the trend in the Japanese hospitality industry in the future.
Compared to other big global trade shows like HITEC, we didn’t see many international brands at the HCJ 2023, and if any were present, they mostly displayed with Japanese partners. This trend just highlighted the importance of having a local presence in Japan for foreign businesses.
HCJ 2023 was a perfect place to meet many local partners, and industry professionals and build relationships. By leveraging the expertise and network of local partners, brands can more effectively target Japanese guests and meet their unique needs and expectations.
So, if you’re a foreign company expanding to Japan, partnering with domestic companies or vendors that display local expertise is a must. This will help you build trust and grow brand recognition and credibility in the Japanese market.
As the hospitality industry in Japan evolves, it is crucial to strike a balance between the traditional concept of Omotenashi and the use of modern technology to enhance the guest experience while juggling the pressing labor shortages. Time is of the essence and efficient use of staff is critical to a hotel’s success.
In the coming year, we can expect to see more hotel technology being adopted in the industry. With the increasing trend towards DX, and the potential of intelligent, well-rounded solutions like Voice AI, is growing at a fast pace.
These are our impressions on HCJ 2023. It was an innovation-packed show that helped us understand the concepts in Japanese hospitality on a much deeper level. It’s definitely worth a visit and we’re already excited to return next year.
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