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ITB Berlin Convention: Tinder dating for hotel rooms - from digitalization to Travel 4.0

Smart products that market themselves: with the advent of Digitalization 4.0 not only will computers become so small that they can no longer be seen, but the era of the Internet of Things and the Internet of Services will create a demand for entirely new business models. The essential feature is that the focus should be on users and not on the technology. This was the thesis proposed by Prof. Wolfgang Henseler, founder of the company Sensory-Minds, in his keynote speech for ITB Mice Day at the ITB Berlin Convention. Henseler presented a range of services available from Amazon, including Amazon Echo, a "Siri in a can", that is capable of communicating with people and has already achieved considerable success in the USA where it has developed into a game changer. The next stage will involve products such as water filters and diapers that can order new supplies autonomously. This capability is already available in the USA and functions extremely well, especially in the case of such heavy or bulky items as dog food, diapers and toilet paper.

This comprehensive digitalization, which in future will involve fitting all kinds of everyday items with their own microsensors, linked to procedural logic and actuator engineering, also has a relevance to the tourism sector. Some of the keywords in this respect are robotic travel management and Travel 4.0. Henseler's vision includes a hotel room equipped with sensors that can detect whether it is occupied or not, and can then market itself in a context-sensitive way. "I no longer go looking for a hotel room, because the hotel room will find me, a kind of Hotel Tinder operating in accordance with the same principle", is how Henseler explains one of the possible prospects for digital transformation.

Currently the Henn-na Hotel in the Japanese town of Sasebo is an exception. Here computers or robots take over the work of checking in and handling luggage. However, in future, the sensors that will be installed in mattresses, in towels and all over the room will generate a wealth of data that can then be used in a context relevant to the particular situation. Henseler believes that this vision will certainly have its attractions, because it shift the focus on to people and their needs. The fact is that usability, a consistent orientation to the user's needs, is the key to success.

Rainer Heubeck

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