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HSMAI Section: Letter from HSMAI's President and CEO

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June 30, 2016
Robert A. Gilbert

By the time you read this the HITEC and ROC (Revenue Optimization Conference) will be under way in the New Orleans Convention Center.

At the HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference earlier this year, 300 hotel and travel marketing executives converged to talk about the conference theme: “Navigating the Crossroads of Personalization, Attribution and Distribution.”  But the conference might as well have been titled, “Disruption is the New Normal,” as attendees were implored to think beyond the hotel industry’s legacy approaches and time-bound traditions.

As conference moderator Lalia Rach asked, “How many old assumptions drive your strategies? How many of your opportunities are stuck in limbo because management can’t make a decision? And what processes are inherently broken, overpriced or frustrating?” She proclaimed that the opportunities for disruption are found by focusing on what is missing and what is desired, and that these will require new business models and new ways of thinking.

She cited Silvercar and noted that it asks you a series of questions when you book that it translates into action. Asking how tall you are lets it automatically have the seat set to your height. Determining what kind of music you enjoy allows it to preset the radio to your preference. Knowing where you plan to drive lets it program the address into the GPS. And understanding the things you like to do helps it prepare a list of suggestions you might find interesting along your route.

This kind of service-focused discussion filled a significant portion of the conference and it highlighted how disruption is forcing us to redefine and enhance what constitutes hospitality today. Indeed, the need to deliver ever-higher levels of personalized and customized service and its importance in marketing was echoed by multiple presenters, many of whom advocated that the best way for hotels to outpace and overcome competitors and the pull of the OTAs was to out-service them and create a greater and more lasting connection with guests.

There is no doubt that many recent headlines in the hotel and distribution channel reflect the disruption we’re all living through, as well as the higher level of personalization that all customers expect today.  The eight articles included in this special section represent insights on some of the key issues disrupting our world – and keeping many of us up at night – while impacting hotel revenue and profitability.

  • What are the Hotel Trends in Distribution? Kurien Jacobs shares his insights on this.  Hotels cannot ignore these trends.
  • And why are major hotel brands around the globe launching campaigns to encourage more customers to book direct? Cindy Estis Green
    provides numbers that don’t lie and a summary of the specific benefits to hoteliers. 
  • Need to know how consumers are communicating with each other and sourcing information today? Then you should know about the trend of “Adopting Chatbots” as articulated by Rajesh Rajan. 
  • Total revenue management is widely understood as an opportunity for all hotels and resorts to optimize revenue beyond just the guestroom. Frank Pitsikalis does a great job summarizing where those other revenue management opportunities are in “More than Room for Profit.”
  • Can your hotel benefit from additional sales of rooms for day use? John Burns shares the growing trends from eight vendors that now provide Web booking capabilities for day use in his article, Day-use Room Bookability. 
  • Want a simple way to understand digital marketing? Max Rayner provides a great overview of how to leverage the intersection of ad tech, marketing tech and content tech in Optimizing Digital Marketing.    
  • And then there’s the social landscape. Don't miss a great checklist for Building Your Social Enterprise. Read Gregg Hopkins step-by-step overview of the keys to success in social. 
  • Are you still trying to harness the power of Big Data?  Kelly’s McGuire’s article on “Responsible Use of Big Data” is a must read for those who embrace the intersection of marketing and technology. Technology exists today to help all of us be better marketers. Just harness it! 
We hope that this cluster of related articles is helpful to you and that it represents a whole section you can easily share with your sales, marketing and revenue management colleagues. And if there are ideas for additional topics you’d like addressed, let Geneva (grinehart@hospitalityupgrade.com) or myself know (bgilbert@hsmai.org).

Robert A. Gilbert | President and CEO
Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International
©2016 Hospitality Upgrade
This work may not be reprinted, redistributed or repurposed without written consent.
For permission requests, call 678.802.5302 or email info@hospitalityupgrade.com.

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