Defining the Future – Dispatch from Amsterdam

By , Chief Evangelist & Development Officer


A few things overheard at the HSMAI Europe Revenue Optimization Conference:

  • Why do we get out of bed in the morning?
  • Do you want to price like your grandma?
  • Don’t listen to your parents.

Atypical for a conference focused on data and analytics, there was a lot of talk of family and culture last week during the HSMAI Europe Revenue Optimization Conference. Of course, data is critical, and analytics are what make (most of) us get out of bed in the morning. Revenue managers need hard facts, stats, tables and graphs to be happy, but it was refreshing to take some time out to hear (and think) about what is often more important—what makes passionate, engaged leaders who help change the world of hospitality and beyond.

Frank Fiskers, former CEO of Scandic Hotels, now board member, set the scene by taking us 220+ participants gathered in Amsterdam through the cultural transformation that helped reshape the company he led for seven years into an organization true to its Nordic roots. His motto of “start in the past, anchor it and use it to define the future vision” rings true not only from an organizational-culture point of view, but also for what revenue management is all about: understanding the past and using it to define the future.

Of course, a revenue management conference wouldn’t be complete without talking about data, analytics and the future of the industry. Intermingled with the conversations on culture and how to grow a successful business were discussions about innovation in the industry between Google, IDeaS, Pace Dimensions and Rocco Forte Hotels; a conversation about new KPIs and the demise of RevPar and RGI; and a fast-paced “face-off” requiring all participants to vote with their feet…well, you had to be there.

As in previous years, attendees spent the afternoon breaking out into small discussion groups, led by the attending companies, to discuss the most pressing topics in more detail, including how to avoid “pricing like your grandma.” The sessions were attended in great numbers and tied in perfectly with the themes of the day. A great blend of academia, seasoned hoteliers, revenue managers and other industry experts were involved in the insightful panels, including Adriaan Coppens from OTA Insight and Satyan Joshi from Google.

Discussions ranged from how better-targeted productization and data filtering will facilitate the evolution of personalized pricing. Additionally, hotels should not neglect the available data sources today, from reputation, demand, traveller intelligence and benchmarking, to price more optimally. There were over 20 students invited to the event, and they actively participated in the discussions, both on stage and off, showing the strong level of interest that currently exists amongst the younger generation for the industry and revenue & distribution in particular.

Kate Walsh, director of total revenue management global at AccorHotels talked refreshingly about steering the pricing debate to F&B optimization and other non-guest-room revenue sources. Something near and dear to us at IDeaS as we believe strongly in the revenue potential for meetings & events and the power of our Smart Space solution to deliver the next level of revenue optimization.

When it comes to defining the future and following your passion, no one could express it better then Steven Bartlett, who at 25 is the founder and CEO of Social Chain Group and Media Chain Limited, multimillion-dollar companies helping brands connect with relevant audiences on social media. From a riveting talk about his journey, I’ll leave you with his own list of guiding principles:

Quit—and never give up.

Reinvent yourself.

Don’t follow your parents’ advice.

And don’t let your company die.

Klaus Kohlmayr
Chief Evangelist & Development Officer

Klaus began his experience in the hotel industry while studying at the Hotel Management and Catering School in Austria. He also studied business at Henley Management College, real estate investment and asset management at Cornell, and finance and strategy at the Singapore Management University. Klaus participates in various advisory boards, including HSMAI in the Asia Pacific and the Americas and the Cornell-Nanyang Institute of Hospitality Management in Singapore.

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