Revenue Strategy Forum 2018 - inside tech for hospitality with Duetto
Duetto is exploding - certainly all over my email and social media - the business knows how to do content; solid, informative, high quality, relevant and engaging. I'm not even a buyer and I love what the Duetto content and marketing team are doing.
I was invited to attend the RSF 2018 so I could find out for myself in closer inspection the activity of the rapidly expanding business with huge levels of investment. I have a slight inside view since former colleagues and business associates are fronting the exciting enterprise.
RSF is a morning to bring hoteliers together; the agenda is very much the new thinking - introducing new theory and ideas that are confronting the hotel business. While most hoteliers were independents and Londoners; being held the first day of WTM gave it chance to lay the discussions on the floor of the exhibit for the rest of the week.
So what are the thoughts that were explored?
Blue Ocean Strategy: I think I’ve been fortunate, in that nearly every conference or event I have attended the last couple of months someone has talked about the blue ocean and the perils of the red sea - but for the hotelier guest personalisation and relevance was the message.
It's hard to distinguish the brand or the personality of a typical hotel room - so why do all hotels follow the same model and style? Blue Ocean Strategy is another way for hotels to really find the uncontested spaces and identify the USPs that truly make them stand out; and do this not just in their marketing, their lobbies or their decor, but also in the room and hotel layout and delivery of service.
Michael Levie - the founder of CitizenM - talked about the approach a hotel should take; understanding the content and the process but also the third leg - the context; how can the uniqueness and identity be embedded in the business as part of culture, values and business goals.
A personal lesson from CitizenM to Ruby Hotels
Certainly, what interested me is CitizenM's approach on its social spaces; hotels used to be the hub of the community, and CitizenM seems to be taking this honour back. Its foyers and lounges are styled into multifaceted living rooms, taking guests from out of their rooms to engage in social spaces that are acting as boardrooms, co-working spaces, co-living spaces and congregation spaces.
If any one has been to NYC, I noticed this appearing more in independent hotels to bring businesses closer to the hotel and utilise the hotel as more of a work and meeting space, not just for corporate gigs, but also for the every day coffee hot desk and quick meeting spot. Not only does this utilise a space that has in recent decades purely been the walkthrough from entrance to restaurant or hotel room, but it allows the hotel to have an atmosphere.
Michael Struck, CEO of Ruby Hotels talked about the personalisation of engagement with audiences; curating the right options that are relevant to their core target audiences’ needs and desires. Michael talked about the value of a proposition that is fixed to a type of guest and to not be all things to all people - the opportunity to truly master direct and return bookings by being relevant.
For Michael - he believes that hotel marketing will move much more towards micro segmentation on the psychographic profile where hotels will need to rely on dedicated landing and booking pages with specific and unique product sets to reach these people.
Being Independent minded to be personal
His points were echoed in part by the MD of Georgian House Hotel; the need to engage with the guest prior to arrival and on arrival to tailor the guests experience. For hoteliers where budgets are tight and human resources are squeezed - marketing is surrendered to the OTAs; therefore to stand out, Georgian House Hotel focuses on good old hospitality; focusing on team empowerment to identify the needs of guests and to share accordingly throughout the hotel so each guest is delivered a premium experience.
For Georgian House Hotel, no marketing budget requires the team to focus of delivery and by being authentic the hospitality team are able to identify the opportunities to heighten the stay of their guests. By holding regular in-house meetings it drives home the importance of human contact so that staff can consider the guests needs and wants - that way demonstrating to the guest the personality of the hotel.
While OTAs are taking a large share of the value of the booking, Georgian House Hotel believes the value is in the reviews, especially on booking.com - delivering the experience to the guest is transmitted to the reviews - which continues the success of the hotel.
The RSF 2018 also had a presentation on Blockchain, and without any industry proven cases or even a suitable software product for the hotel industry to benefit from - the discussion fell flat. So too a presentation from the Amazon product evangelist for AI and Machine learning; it lacked relevance to the audience, without context the concept and process was lost - as we return full circle to the blue ocean strategy (yet for Amazon as we have already seen, it owns both the sea and the ocean and all the waters that now trickle to it).
In the end...
For me - perhaps the biggest takeaway - is that hotels that do well work collaboratively - and for Georgian House Hotel their #weworkbettertogether week helps them mine the gold without the need for huge marketing and technology investment.