Let's build technology that improves the hotel experience for guests, hotel staff, and hotel owners

Produced by tnooz.com in collaboration with HEDNA and Homeaway

Travel is one of the most appealing industries to startups: with a $1 trillion addressable market and global reach, the industry's siren song is strong. Not to mention that most of us have traveled -- and have ideas about how to make the process better.

One of the biggest addressable markets in travel is hotels. In fact, the hospitality industry is enormous in its own right. Did you know that there are over 500,000 hotels in the world? It's true! There are thousands of hotels and accommodations in the world.

Do you have some ideas for a better hotel experience? Build them in a weekend!

Presented by SnapShot in collaboration with HEDNA's North American conference in Austin, we're hacking new solutions for hotels. The conference is bringing together hoteliers and tech vendors from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities within the online and electronic distribution space. The hackathon event is part of this exploration, offering a space for discovery and new ideas for application to the global hospitality industry.

Join us for a 36-hour sprint implementing a variety of hospitality APIs, including Snapshot's API, in creating innovative, revenue-generating, and/or experience improving solutions for the hotel industry. The event is focused on creating solutions for hospitality that leverage artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other emerging technologies.

Could you create a bot that helps match hotel guests to things to do once in the destination? What about using data and machine learning to deliver the optimal matrix of prices for a particular hotel’s room mix? Is there an application for augmented reality within a hotel’s operations — for example, in helping ensure consistency in the way a hotel room is presented to a new guest?

Startups, as well as ad-hoc teams of developers and designers, are welcomed to join this sprint hack to develop applications that solve real pain points for both travelers and hoteliers.

Finalists will be presented to conference attendees at HEDNA, the largest hotel electronic distribution association in the world. So not only do you get to hack at HomeAway but your app could also be seen by thousands of hoteliers and tech providers! We have a great judging panel! Get your project in front of these smart, savvy, and experienced industry leaders from Booking.com, HomeAway, MGM Resorts, and Snapshot.

The API

Our presenting API partner is SnapShot, a company that aggregates and structures hotel data, and transforms it into applications that allow hotels to improve the guest experience, increase operational efficiency and generate revenue.

All of these applications are housed in the SnapShot Marketplace, a pre-integrated, single sign-on store where hotels can connect and purchase the applications they need. With 6000 hotels connected, 40+ PMS integrations, and dozens of developers creating apps, the SnapShot Marketplace is on its way to becoming the one-stop-shop for hotels to find the software they need to best run their businesses.

SnapShot’s inbound API, which serves as the base for HTNG’s transactional data standards, provides developers with access to transactional data from 40+ PMSs, including 1. reservations (without contact details), 2. financial transactions, 3. group reservations.

The data is cleaned, aggregated, and used to calculate KPIs such as RevPar, ADR, revenue, pace or occupancy. Developers can choose between different data granularity and single or multi-property aggregation. Data can also be broken down by various dimensions such as room type, rate plan, market segment or distribution channel. And, you get actual data, historical data or even forecast and budget data.

In addition, developers will have access to SnapShot’s Fabric API, which connects to Fabric, a new communication tool, built just for hotels (think Slack, but for hotels). The Fabric API allows developers to read and send information to and from Fabric native messaging and is great for developers looking to develop chatbots, automate communication, and analyze messaging within Fabric.

Developers can use any publicly available APIs, and also must include our presenting API partners to be considered for the Grand Prize. Projects must also fit within at least one of the challenges below to be considered by the judges. 

Challenges

Emerging technology is creeping into the hotel space. Whether its a robot butler or a voice-based assistant for revenue managers, hotels are starting to experiment with a variety of technologies. Build a tool or solution that uses machine learning/AI, virtual reality, augmented reality, robots, blockchain and/or other emerging technologies to improve outcomes for hotels.

Challenge #1: The Back Office

From revenue management to housekeeping to maintenance, a hotel is a complex organism. Build a tool, solution, or integration that brings data and real-time insights together to make it easier to operate a hotel. This challenge is all about improving operations of a hotel across all aspects.

Challenge #2: The Guest Experience

Guests are more demanding than ever. Build a tool, solution, or integration that improves the guest experience, encourages guest loyalty, and/or makes a hotel experience more memorable and unique for guests. This challenge is all about improving a hotel through the guest's eyes.

Challenge #3: Pricing Optimization

There are many factors that impact a hotel’s pricing. Build an algorithm or application that looks at pricing and relevant historical data points (weather, flight patterns, etc.) to help hotels know when to adjust their pricing based on market conditions. This challenge is all about helping a hotel to maximize revenue.

NOTE: Teams should consider how to use artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies such as machine learning, virtual reality, augmented reality, blockchain, etc, alongside SnapShot APIs within their projects to be well-positioned with the judges! Teams can be considered across both challenges, as long as the project demonstrably impacts both the back office and guest experience for hotels.

Prizes

Grand Prize (3x $500 per challenge) 

Our judges will determine the winning team according to the judging criteria. The winning team will receive a Grand Prize, which includes the cash prize and the possibility to have the app placed in the SnapShot Marketplace, a pre-integrated ecosystem where more than 6000 hotels worldwide can go to buy apps to better run their business. This prize is presented by SnapShot.

tnooz Audience Choice prize (Beats headphones)

Teams from each track also are in the running for the tnooz Audience Choice award as chosen by all participants and judges. Ballots will be cast just after the last presentation and announced alongside the grand prize. This prize is presented by tnooz. 

HEDNA Audience Choice prize (250k IHG points for hotel stays)

Teams will be invited to present to the HEDNA conference attendees in a session highlighting the hackathon's projects. This is a chance to present in front of hoteliers from around the world -- and the audience favorite will receive 250,000 points from IntercontinentalHotelsGroup. That's enough for five free nights at hotels around the world! The presentation is from 2:30pm to 3:15pm at the Sheraton Austin. This prize is presented by HEDNA.

Exclusive networking dinner at the Driskill Hotel for winning teams

Winners of each track will be invited to an exclusive dinner at the Driskill, where they will have a chance to network with industry experts, insiders, and media. This is an opportunity to showcase your work to influencers -- and perhaps extend the project beyond the weekend! This prize is courtesy of HEDNA's organizing committee.

Schedule

Please note the schedule below. As this hackathon is tied to the HEDNA conference being held the week after, we will be announcing the finalists and presenting them to the attendees. The winner will be announced on Wednesday, January 31. All finalists are invited to an exclusive dinner at the Driskill Hotel.

Friday, Jan 26
  • 6:30pm - We'll be hosting a casual happy hour on Friday night. While this isn't mandatory or part of the 'official' program, it's a great chance to mingle and find a team.
Saturday, Jan 27
  • 8:00am - Start time with coffee and tea available. There won't be a full breakfast but some pastries and nibbles will be provided.
  • 8:30am - Introductions, sponsor/API presentations, team selections
  • 9:00pm - Building closes BUT you can still hack all night! You can keep hacking you just can't stay here.
Sunday, Jan 28
  • 3pm - Projects due!
  • 5pm - Judges' feedback + tnooz Audience Choice prize announced
  • Please note that the winning team is announced at an awards reception tomorrow.
Monday, Jan 29
  • 5:30-8:00pm - HEDNA kickoff @ Mohawk. All hackathon registrants welcome to attend!
Wednesday, Jan 31
  • 2:30-3:15pm - Finalist presentation to HEDNA attendees at the Sheraton Hotel. Excellent opportunity to show your work to hoteliers from around the world! If you are unable to attend in person, we will show the recording from Sunday's pitch to judges.
  • 6:00-8:00pm - Exclusive finalist dinner at the Driskill Hotel, where the winners will be announced to a room full of invite-only guests, executives, and media.

View full rules

Eligibility

Do I have to attend in person?

The only eligibility requirement is that teams must attend in person. As long as there is at least one team representative present on site, remote team members are allowed. We will not accept submissions from fully remote teams. 

Do apps need to be functional?

Apps can be fully functional, as that is criteria the judges are looking at. Apps can also be mock-ups, either static screenshots or clickable static pages to show the user flow. Judges will consider technical merit for judging, so keep that in mind.

Can I submit my existing app? 

For existing apps, tools, or services to be considered eligible for judging consideration, there must be significant changes or new functionality. Submitted an existing app that was created outside of the hackathon timeframe is not allowed.  

When do we present to the judges? 

Teams must also present to the judges on Sunday afternoon. Teams without presentations will not be considered eligible for consideration. 

Requirements

All projects must submit a single ZIP file to DevPost. It should include the following: 

  • A demo, either a video of a working demo or a mockup/screenshot progression. 
  • For video demos, it can be a raw file or a URL for a YouTube/Vimeo upload. You can try a live demo for the judges, but we require a YouTube version for submission. 
  • A presentation, which includes images, video, and/or a live demo of the project. Your presentation should have an intro slide with the project name, the name of each team member, and a list of all APIs used. A presentation template will be provided. 

Deadline for submission to DevPost is 2:30pm on Sunday. Presentations begin around 3:30pm. 

How to enter

All attendees must register on Eventbrite here. We ask that each attendee register for a ticket, rather than one person register an entire group. 

Judges

Dominik Pinter

Dominik Pinter
VP of Product, SnapShot Travel

Sarah Fults

Sarah Fults
VP Distribution, MGM Resorts

Tina Weyand

Tina Weyand
Chief Product Officer, HomeAway

Judging Criteria

  • Innovative Approach
    Does this project deliver something new? Is this a unique approach or a twist on something already existing? How refreshing is this project? Does it provide value to all stakeholders, especially the user and business integrating it?
  • Market Opportunity
    How likely is this project to make money? How smart is the use of the API and does the use of the API accelerate potential earnings? Does this project make it so the platform can make more money?
  • User Experience
    How great is the user experience? Does it have the wow factor? Does it work the way it should? Is this design attractive, appealing, and useful? What does this make the user feel? Does the UX encourage discovery and booking of travel?