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Singapore Tourism Board crowdsourcing innovative solutions to address key issues in hotel and travel agent industries

The Singapore Tourism Board (STB) announced a Call-for-Proposal (CFP) for two Tourism Innovation Challenges, one targeted at hotels and the other at travel agents. The challenges seek to crowdsource innovative solutions to address key issues and opportunities in the hotel and travel agent (TA) industries. Mr. Lionel Yeo, Chief Executive of STB had revealed the plans for the challenge at the Tourism Industry Conference on April 13.

The Tourism Innovation Challenges aim to take forward the business transformation, technology adoption and manpower optimisation agenda on the basis of the STB’s Hotel Industry Transformation Map (ITM) and Travel Agent Roadmap launched in 2016.

Problem statements have been proposed to which the interested entities can respond with ideas for potential solutions. They were developed based on inputs from stakeholders obtained through engagement sessions that STB had conducted. They cover a range of areas which the stakeholders hope to improve on, such as understanding customers’ demands, anticipating customers’ behaviour and enhancing experience delivery. The proposed solutions might involve the use of one or more technologies, such as big data and analytics, artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, robotics or material sciences.  

Examples of problem statements for TAs include how could STB enable TAs to know what their target segment is researching on today so that they stay up-to-date on customer demand and gain first-hand insights on a destination and ways in which STB could gather and use data to anticipate customer behaviour and preferences so that TAs can better retain customers. Another problem is around enabling TAs to co-research and co-create a trip with customers, with the right degree of personalisation.

For the hotels, STB is asking questions such as how regulatory checks which are required as part of the check-in and check-out processes could be automated to save on front office manpower hours, or possible ways of collecting guests’ preferences before they arrive at the front desk. Another issue is effective maintenance of building and guestroom facilities through the use of sensor technology and analytics to monitor performance and detect failure. There are multiple questions on  linen & bed making, such as autonomously transporting dirty linen from hotel rooms to the back-of-house collection point.

STB is inviting interested companies to respond with creative and scalable technology solutions tailored to address. The proposals will be evaluated based on their ingenuity and their ability to best address the problem areas, as well as companies’ track records and competencies. Replicating commercial off-the-shelf solutions, consultancy services (i.e. only expert advice without actual solutions / prototypes) and increased resource requirement will have negative impact on the assessment.

Selected proposals will be funded by STB for up to 70% of qualifying costs, to deliver feasible prototypes for trial and eventual implementation if the trial is deemed successful. Qualifying third-party costs include costs related to professional services, audit, testing and certification associated with the development of the solution proposal and delivery of projects, processes, and services meeting the desired standards, training that are an intrinsic component of the project, hardware / equipment and software associated with the proposed concept, and internal manpower.

Successful prototypes will also be showcased at relevant industry platforms where appropriate. STB may also work with successful participants to scale up the adoption of successful proposals to the rest of the industry. STB will conduct networking and business matching sessions to connect technology solution providers with hotels and travel agents. These are expected to help technology solution providers to better understand the industry’s challenges and facilitate finding pilot users to partner in developing solution prototypes.  

The CFP for the two challenges will run in tandem rom 18 May to 28 August 2017. Successful Participants will be informed of the results of their proposals by October 2017.

The two challenges for hotels and travel agents are held in partnership with the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA) and the National Association of Travel Agents Singapore (NATAS), respectively. They are supported by the Agency for Science, Technology and Research’s (A*STAR) commercialisation arm, Exploit Technologies Pte. Ltd. (ETPL), Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), NUS Enterprise, and Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SiTF).

STB Chief Technology Officer Mr Quek Choon Yang shared that, “With manpower constraints and rising consumer demands, our core industries of hotels and travel agents need to look for creative ways to build customer loyalty and improve efficiencies. We are therefore putting out these Tourism Innovation Challenges to elicit smart and innovative technology solutions that can best address issues faced by our hotels and travel agents.” Find more details about the two challenges here.

Featured image: Singapore Tourism Board headoffice (Tokyodcs/ CC BY-SA 3.0)

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