The Best of HICON 2021: From Augmented Reality and a Cookie-less Future to LGBTQ+ Tourism and MACH

travel trends 2022 - hicon 2021

The voices of HICON: Watch 4 exclusive interviews revealing the top travel trends of 2022.

The 4th Edition of HICON – The Hospitality Innovation Conference – has concluded and left us with a wealth of ideas and inspiration to start the new year with an openness to evolve and revitalize. 

Three conference halls with over 50 tourism and hospitality operators, experts, innovators and professionals took turns revealing the data, trends and projections for 2022, a year which has never faced such challenges and uncertainty. 

Between one presentation and the next, we managed to steal four quick interviews with some of our speakers. Each of them left us with a comment on the changes taking place in the travel industry and their predictions for the new year. 

Smart Glasses and Voice Assistants – Say hello to our new travel companions

Within the next few years, two important technologies are expected to completely change our relationship and experience with hotels and travel, says Massimo Canducci, Chief Innovation Officer, Executive MBA Professor at Engineering.

A new generation of voice assistants will explode, the same ones turn to to switch on the lights or set a timer. Voice Assistants will become increasingly refined tools to help us manage every stage of the travel journey.

On the other hand, augmented reality (AR) Smart Glasses will be on everyone’s wish list and will slowly replace smartphones.

(Italian-language interview)

Flexible Payments: Experiences and accommodation stays paid in installments

Scalapay was one of the protagonists at HICON 2021. Simone Mancini, CEO of the company, shared how his upbringing led him to lead tourism’s first buy now, pay later organization. After growing up in a large family of missionary parents who emigrated to Australia for the Catholic Church, Mancini’s curiosity and tenacity led him to lead Scalapay, one of the top installment payment agencies, which is now worth around 700 million dollars.

Until now, consumers have used the installment purchase system – online and in store – for clothing, children’s toys, jewelry or furniture. However, the demand has now arrived for the travel sector.

Matteo Ciccalè, who directs the Travel Department at Scalapay, revealed some estimates and insights for both tourism operators and consumers alike. There are already 50 companies in the travel sector offering this service and another 20 will soon be activated.

(Italian-language Interview)

Agile isn’t just a buzzword, it’s the key to overcome the Covid-19 crisis 

Working in an “agile” fashion, according to a continuous test-and-fail logic, is the key to overcoming difficulties of the market, reveals Florian Montag, Business Development Manager at Apaleo. As the pandemic has taught us, being agile is not a concept to be applied only to technology, but also to the minds of operators and collaborators.

The second watchword for travel organizations should be MACH: Microservices; API first; Cloud native; Headless. MACH is a new way to rethink products, websites and software to offer users an increasingly immersive and seamless experience.

(English-Language Interview)

Embracing LGBTQ+ Tourism

LGBTQ+ travelers have enormous potential for tourism. Statistically speaking, this segment of travelers typically loves to travel, work as freelancers and have a high spending potential.

Auston Matta of IGLTA revealed that, according to a survey conducted in both 2019 and 2020, the LGBTQ community is the first to return to travel after catastrophic events, such as September 11th and the Covid-19 pandemic. 

This market alone is worth about 4 trillion dollars.

(English-Language Interview)

Sustainability, NFT, Space Travel & a Cookieless Future – There’s much more to learn

The four interviews above are just a smidge of what we discovered at HICON 2021, but there are many other presentation’s to watch. Just to name a few:

  • Carlo Stagnaro & Andrea Giuricin revealed a global economic and transportation overview 
  • Train travel 2.0: The new ways of traveling by rail with Silvia Festa
  • Travelport’s Monique Jaspers-Wijn revealed the importance of embracing change and the use of data in digital marketing
  • A cookie-free future of tourism marketing by Sojern’s Luca Romozzi
  • Innovation and the circular economy in the hospitality sector with Lucia Loposova
  • A 1-on-1 interview with Jane Poynter, the woman who was the first to invent tourism flights to space
  • The past, present and future of VR and AR for travel and hospitality by Michele Zilli at TUI
  • The application of NFT for hoteliers, with Luca De Giglio and Francesco Ciuccarelli
  • What the future holds for short-term rentals by Pierre Becerril, CEO of Transparent


For just €24, purchase the full recording of HICON and access over 50 speeches. It’s the perfect way to end 2021 in style and start 2022 with the right motivation!


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