Written by Rob DelliBovi, Investor and Hospitality Advisory Board Member, Nobody Studios
For our beloved industries of travel and hospitality, the headlines are all the same right now. “Travel is Back!”, “Hotels are full!”, “Book your Summer Flight now or you’ll miss out!”. Whereas we are all very thankful for our very steady comeback and will welcome this return of travel demand over the depression that was 2020, this rush to get back on the road has exposed our industries.
Travel and hospitality have certainly changed forever. And yes, we are back in business – but the business has changed. We know currently that vendors are making money, and travelers’ dreams to see the world are realized once again – but to the people working in these worlds, the energy is different.
I am in the unique place of being a manager on the vendor side (my company, RDB Hospitality, consults for and manages hotels), as well as a booker on the travel side (we are also a full-scale travel & concierge company) – so I can say with direct experience that everything is currently harder. Staffing shortages are creating a smaller and more inexperienced workforce, many vendors are enjoying the new demand and ignoring their core customers, systems that were once clockwork on both sides of our business are now breaking down, and this all is happening with the constant anxiety of “will it happen again?”.
We have one A-list corporate client that we have booked the same trip for every year since 2009. They use 20 rooms at the same hotel in NYC, with dinners, event tickets, car service, flights, and a cocktail party. 2022 was by far the most difficult experience that we’ve encountered handling this group. We usually get all items locked in for this group in about 3-4 weeks. In 2022, it took 9 weeks – and the client asked us never to use the hotel that they previously LOVED again due to poor service and handling.
As mentioned, these problems have exposed our industries, specifically the programs and SOP in place to manage them. Travel and Hospitality are notoriously prehistoric in terms of technology, systems, training, and the business version of “living in the now”. Pre-pandemic, we were just getting by (not without complaints from yours truly), but able to service the demand brought to us even during our busiest time. Now, with the above-mentioned staffing and system problems, the industry is experiencing a new efficiency problem that I have not seen before. Response time (or response at all!?) is lacking, inventory problems are highlighted, details are being missed, and bringing numerous vendors together to work on one itinerary is nearly impossible.
This is why I’m excited about my investment and hospitality board position with venture studio company, Nobody Studios. The industry NEEDS the word that I dislike the most in business -> Disruption. Most of all, the industry needs technology.
Did you know the technology that dominates the travel space is basically DOS-based and runs on a different language? If I walked you through the process that a travel or hotel professional is forced to deal with to confirm a booking and set it up for a flawless, smooth stay – you wouldn’t believe it. You’d literally think I was making this up to deter you from joining our business. There are so many areas for error, and I won’t even get into what it takes for us to get paid… And imagine doing it 100 times per day!
We at Nobody are working on multiple companies and technologies as we speak to ease the pain and change our industries. I couldn’t be more excited. We are working to ease the booking process and are introducing the industry to the wonders of Web3.
Travel and Hospitality do not have to be this difficult and siloed. Right now, everyone is frustrated at a time that should be joyous. I’ve even seen dramatic comments about “missing 2020”. The different parts of the business can work together in a smoother and more beneficial way for guests AND vendors.
As a travel and concierge booker, I always say that this is an industry where others make you look bad, all day/every day. With the right collaboration, technology, and systems, everyone can win. End of the day, it’s all about the guest experience – but a happy vendor team doesn’t hurt! We’re on it.