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An algorithm to fix legacy issue in a pandemic hit industry

To solve the booking issue, a team of researchers at the University of Trento, Italy, collaborated with an Italian start up to develop software inspired by the popular Tetris video game.

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COVID-19 has dealt a significant blow to the global economy, and brought tourism to a near halt. One of the biggest casualties of this change was the hoteling business.

And now, as the vaccines start rolling out, the hospitality industry is slowly starting to see a new dawn. But, one legacy issue persists — online room reservations.

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While online booking option made reservation collection process easy, it did not solve the room allotment problem. That meant hotels, at times, gave their rooms to guests who picked shorter stays instead of to ones taking longer reservations. This inefficiency in the booking process reduced occupancy rates.

To solve the booking issue, a team of researchers at the University of Trento, Italy, collaborated with an Italian start up to develop software inspired by the popular Tetris video game.

They built Room Tetris, a tile-matching algorithm that is said to work better than an experienced hotelier in assigning rooms. The software finds the best solution, an ideal combination of demand and supply, and optimises room occupancy.

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The team has filed a patent application on the newly developed software, and has documented their method in an article titled ‘RoomTetris: an optimal procedure for committing rooms to reservations in hotels’, published in the international Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Technology.

“It is a new and revolutionary method to manage the accommodation of guests in hotel rooms” Roberto Battiti, Professor of computer science at the University of Trento, said in a statement.

If the average profit of a hotel is 10-15% of the turnover, the increased room availability generated by the algorithm in the high season can increase it by a further 5-10% (depending on the average occupancy rate and the duration of the stay), Battiti added.

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The algorithm’s performance was tested through a hotel simulator in different areas, and in real hotels in Italy, the research release noted.

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