Hacking a Better Hotel Experience: AI and Emerging Tech in Hospitality

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HomeAway HQ

11800 Domain Blvd #300

Austin, TX 78758

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A hackathon produced by tnooz in collaboration with HEDNA and Homeaway

Travel is one of the most appealing industries to start-ups: 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 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, HomeAway, MGM Resorts, and Snapshot:

  • Tina Weyand, CPO of HomeAway.
  • Sarah Fults, President of HEDNA. Sarah's day job is as Vice President at MGM Resorts.
  • Dominik Turnbull, VP of Product for SnapShot.
  • executive


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.

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 prizes.

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.

The criteria

Teams are judged in two categories, Startups and Ad Hoc groups who came together just for the hackathon. Judging will be based equally on three factors: an innovative approach, the market opportunity, and the user experience.

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?

UX: 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 familiar to the site where it's integrated? What does this make the user feel? Does the user experience encourage discovery and booking of travel?

The 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

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.

Exclusive networking dinner at the Driskill Hotel for all finalists

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!


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. We will send updates to registrants with the location 48 hours before the event.

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 for each project
  • 6pm - Winners of each challenge announced; voting on the tnooz Audience Choice prize.

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.

As the original independent media voice in travel technology, tnooz is the brightest source of information and analysis for the travel and hospitality industries. We parse the data, analyze the trends, and push beyond the latest news to bring a fresh perspective to what's moving business today. Tnooz is for travel professionals looking to stay informed on current trends and learn about the stories behind the news.

SnapShot is a fully-integrated ecosystem that allows hotels to pick and choose the applications that they need to effectively run their business as well as test out new applications and share data from any application to hotel staffers via Fabric, SnapShot’s very own hotel messaging tool. Our platform allows hotels to have one integrated and completely customizable software stack. Plus, SnapShot’s API allows hotels, developers and data partners easy, secure and transparently managed access to transactional data so that they can build new software as needed.

Founded in 1991, HEDNA (Hotel Electronic Distribution Network Association) is the only global forum exclusively dedicated to the advancement of hospitality distribution through networking platforms, educational opportunities and professional resources to help them navigate the ever-evolving landscape of hotel electronic distribution.

HEDNA works to optimize the use of technologies while influencing the development of current and emerging distribution channels. It promotes an open exchange of information and professional development among its members. HEDNA’s global conferences deliver the most comprehensive information, insights and dialogue on trends in hotel distribution.

HomeAway is a vacation rental marketplace with over 2 million rentals in 190 countries. The company was acquired by Expedia in 2015, and now operates as a subsidiary of the Expedia, Inc. stable of travel brands. The company has been based in Austin since it's founding in 2005. We are grateful to HomeAway for hosting the event in their creative and design-forward campus.


Do I need to be a member of HEDNA or have a conference registration to attend the hackathon?

While this hackathon is co-organized with HEDNA, there is no need to be a member. This hackathon is open to developers, designers, and others that are interested in improving the hotel experience through artifical intelligence and emerging technologies.

What are my transportation/parking options for getting to and from the event?

There is parking on-site. Please be prepared to show your Eventbrite registration confirmation screen either via email or the Eventbrite app.

What can I bring into the event?

Anything reasonable: laptop, chargers, etc. There wil be food and drink on-site, but please bring whatever makes you happy on that front. This being Texas and all, please no weapons.

How can I contact the organizer with any questions?

Shoot an email to with any specific questions. More information will be shared after registration, as well as closer to the event.

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HomeAway HQ

11800 Domain Blvd #300

Austin, TX 78758

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