Timothy Hentschel, cofounder and CEO of HotelPlanner, has been named Cornell Hospitality Innovator for 2018.

The man behind the world’s largest online group travel provider will receive the honour given annually by the Leland C. and Mary M. Pillsbury Institute for Hospitality Entrepreneurship at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration.

Hentschel will receive the award at the 10th annual Cornell Hospitality Icon and Innovator Awards gala, Tuesday, June 5, at the Pierre Hotel in New York City.

In his latest initiative, Hentschel has added Artificial Intelligence to the recipe, stating the new concept has revolutionised the way business is done: “Our AI program has been the most exciting initiative since our patent was filed for group booking technology 15 years ago. With our new AI, your guests will be able to add themselves directly into your hotel group block by answering a few simple question.”

HotelPlanner is also the driving force behind the European Group Travel Awards, held annually in Berlin, this year set to be held on the 8th March at Berlin’s Intercontinental Hotel. Cleverdis, publishers of HOTEL & TOURISM ONLINE and the quarterly SMARTreport, are official media sponsors of the event.

HotelPlanner was established in 2003 by Hentschel and his business partner, John Prince, a software engineer and COO. HotelPlanner was an early leader in providing online resources for group travel, becoming a mainstay for group event planners and hotel partners alike. “The world-class teaching and creative minds at the Hotel School inspired me to pursue a career rooted in entrepreneurship and hospitality and provided me with the tools for success,” said Hentschel. “Surrounding myself with supportive, smart, and successful role models helped forge my drive to build a company.”

Today, HotelPlanner provides group travel technology expertise to over 4.2 million group event planners while servicing $7 billion in group hotel booking requests in 2017 and an expected $10 billion in 2018. The company has US headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida, European headquarters in London, and additional offices in Hong Kong and Las Vegas.

With its inception in 2009, the Cornell Hospitality Icon and Innovator Awards became the largest event on the Hotel School’s calendar, attracting more than 600 influential leaders and innovators in the hospitality and travel industries from more than a dozen countries each year. The event is a key fundraiser for the Hotel School’s annual fund, which provides critical need-based scholarships for students.

Photo credit: Peter Schiazza