A Silicon Valley North for Hotels

Reviewing how tech startups in Toronto will benefit hotels

By Larry Mogelonsky President & Founder, LMA Communications | July 28, 2013

Toronto, my home town, has long held the title 'Hollywood North' to express its close relationship with Los Angeles, the film capital of the world. The movie and television industry has been a leading employer and economic boon for the city for decades, but now Toronto appears to be double-dipping in Californian namesakes, all because of its tech sector's flourishing growth. The city is filled with passionate entrepreneurs who are rapidly developing the mobile and digital utilities of tomorrow, and many of these products have direct applications for the hospitality industry.

Fueled by hearty government grant programs and admirable living conditions (amongst a slew of other factors), Toronto shares many of the characteristics that helped turn the Bay Area into the innovation powerhouse that it is today. This metropolis of nearly six million is now a roaring cluster of highly skilled teams and even bigger dreams. Even in a virtual, globalized office space, the city nonetheless continues to accrue many prominent software and hardware firms with hundreds of startups dotting the landscape. It may well be a 'Silicon Valley North', and hoteliers – like any other savvy entrepreneur looking to be an early adapter instead of a late adopter – will benefit from keeping a tab on what this tech hub produces.

With my business firmly planted in central Toronto for the past 22 years, I've had the fortune of witnessing this emergence firsthand. However, the purpose of this article is not to acknowledge and verify recent trends, but rather to think broader in terms of how new technologies, wherever they may be incepted, can be used to improve operations. As we gallop ever faster into an era of digital integration, it's critical that you keep an open mind to how these platforms might be creatively applied towards offering guests a more immersive and memorable hotel experience. And the best way to illustrate this principle is through examples.

To this end, I sought out three local developers – Nadav Elituv of Imagin8, Isaac Strang of shootround and Devon Wright of Turnstyle – to report on the specifics of their raison d'être. All three present fascinating cases to support the notion that the hospitality industry can be a prime benefactor of new innovations. So, let's review each product individually and see how they might be applied to a hotel space.


Nadav Elituv runs a no frills office / laboratory out of a refurbished warehouse in the gentrifying downtown neighborhood of Liberty Village. His company, Imagin8 (www.imagin8.ca), specializes in hardware and software solutions which turn flat screens or any surface that can absorb a projected image (walls, windows, floors, tables) into a fully interactive experience. Basically, gigantic touch and touch-less screens. For our demo, all of Nadav's fancy wares were on display, including a glass-top desk fitted with a touch-enabled LCD panel under the surface and a projector beaming a slideshow of advertisements onto a twelve-by-twelve foot white wall – touch the wall and the ads change.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.