Meet IDeaS New Chief Evangelist

Discover what this new role for IDeaS entails and how it impacts the industry

With a new chief evangelist role added to its roster, IDeaS is excited to start interacting with the hospitality market in new ways. The industry is in the midst of both disruption and evolution – new technologies, heightened competition and a renewed focus on guest experience – producing some interesting and thought-provoking discourse.

Klaus Kohlmayr, chief evangelist, and Elizabeth Walsh, senior director of marketing with IDeaS Revenue Solution recently had an opportunity to sit down and talk about this new role with IDeaS and Klaus’ insights for the hospitality industry.

Q: What will you be doing as the chief evangelist?

I describe my role as “looking at the biggest trends and developments that will shape the industry in the next 5-7 years.” These trends could cover a lot of ground from consumer to technology developments within the industry. I am in constant dialogue with a wide range of industry players: hospitality groups, owners & asset managers, technology providers, consultants and start-ups. I also look outside the hotel industry for a view on how broader developments will impact the industry as a whole. Throughout my conversations, certain themes emerge, which I then share and communicate back with the industry, as well as within IDeaS so we can all be prepared for the future.

Q: You have been in the industry for a number of years, including previously with IDeaS. How has this prepared you for this role?

Having worked in the industry for nearly 30 years on three continents and on both the hotel and vendor side, the experience has given me two take-aways:

      • A unique global perspective on the state of the industry and technology. I was very lucky to be at the forefront of innovation and “industry firsts” in most of my roles which helps in my search for “what’s next.”
      • I am fortunate to have an extensive network of thought leaders to speak with. In my role I don’t come up with all the answers; it is important for me to listen and distill the information into themes that can be easily communicated.

Q: What excites you most about this role?

While chief evangelists have been around for a while in the technology industry (Guy Kawasaki was probably the first one when he evangelized the Mac for Apple many years ago), it is a completely new concept in this industry. I am excited that IDeaS is leading by investing in someone to think and elevate the conversation and to focus on what is critical to be successful in the future. For too many years the industry has been concerned about who revenue management is reporting to, while we should instead be concerned about how we will create the future. I am excited to come back to IDeaS, who I have known to be the most passionate, innovative and progressive company in the space.

Q: Why is this role important for the hospitality industry?

The industry has never had anyone whose job it was to think about long term trends and implications on a full-time basis. Rather, everyone is constantly focused on delivering against near-term objectives. People tend to get caught up in day-to-day operational issues, which constrains time for profound thinking. Technology is evolving fast and, as a result, there is a lot of confusion about what is, and what is not, critical for success. Especially in the revenue management and pricing arena, there is a lot of confusion and noise about concepts that might sound fancy and flashy but actually are not proven to produce optimal results. There are more and more providers who pretend to offer revenue management and pricing solutions but actually only provide an efficient way to manually manage pricing decisions, rather than automating analytics. I believe my role is to elevate the conversation and to educate the industry about the critical items that need to be in place to be best prepared for the future.

Q: What are some of the key trends and shifts you are seeing in the industry?

We are undergoing a transformation in the industry, driven by two factors – consumers and technology. On the consumer side, personalization and experience are the key driving forces. Consumers want to be communicated to and engaged in an authentic, one-on-one manner. “Give me what I want when I want it” and “Make it easy for me to interact with you” are the leitmotifs. They want to feel connected to brands on more than just a transactional level. Second are the changes in technology. With cloud based technology, data is becoming easier and cheaper to store and increasingly efficient to access. Great experiences can only be delivered through automation. Having all the data in one easy-to-access place enables true personalization and seamless experiences. I call this seamless intelligence, where high tech enables high touch throughout the entire customer journey.

Q: Lastly, what role does revenue management have in the evolution of the hospitality industry?

Whatever we will call revenue management in the future, it will look much different than it does today. First of all, whoever has the most relevant data, combined with the most advanced analytics, will win. GDS’ today collect billions of data points every month, but hotels today only see a fraction of that. Most of the data will sit outside a property or brand. Additionally, pricing will be automated, instant and in real time. Gone will be the days where hotel revenue managers will be able to validate and confirm pricing decisions before they are sent to the channel managers. The systems will be making their pricing decisions and someone (not at the property level) will validate the decisions after the fact. Amazon doesn’t have a pricing manager validating if the price of a charging cable should be $1.99 or $1.89. They let their system price automatically and afterwards review the algorithms to ensure they worked correctly. With data sitting in the cloud, the data scientists evaluating the decisions and models will be very different than today’s revenue managers. Properties will not be able to hire the resources with the capabilities to understand or use these systems so they will also be located centrally. As a result, pricing and demand optimization will become more centralized, sophisticated and automated. If I would want to become a revenue manager in the future I would probably begin to study mathematics and data science.

 

Do you have some thoughts you would like to share with Klaus? Connect with Klaus today, he would be happy to speak with you.