Editors recap the second day of the Hotel Data Conference with takeaways, quotables and more highlights from the event.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee—On the second day of the Hotel Data Conference, which closed with a general session featuring executives from online travel agency Expedia and shared-economy provider Airbnb, it was made clear that the hotel industry in general has to contend with distractions, and “disruptors,” from all sides.
The one thing that can bring focus back to the job at hand and the task ahead, of course, is data.
“Leverage your first-party data: It’s the most valuable asset you have,” said Michael Bennett, SVP of global marketing and business development at conference sponsor Cendyn, summarizing a key takeaway on a panel titled “Generating demand among different generations.”
The conference, in its ninth year, was hosted by STR and Hotel News Now, for which STR is parent company.
Quotes of the day
“Disruption is when you wake up and you realize you’re in trouble. And either you didn’t see the change coming or you saw the change coming and you didn’t do enough about it.”
—Frits van Paasschen, keynote speaker, former CEO of Starwood Hotels and Resorts
“In the next 12 months, I’d hope that Airbnb will share all its data and information with (the hotel industry), so we can better make comparisons.”
—Jamie Lane, senior economist, CBRE Hotels’ Americas Research, speaking on a panel titled “Alternative accommodations: What they can teach you about your market.” Lane admitted he personally rented out a room in his Atlanta property on Airbnb. Thus, a few audience questions focused not on Airbnb’s overall impact on the hotel industry, but what might be the effect from Lane’s one-room addition to the 4 million Airbnb listings worldwide, a number that has gone up by one million units in the last 12 months, according to Lane and co-presenter Jessica Haywood, senior research analyst, STR.
“A lot of our hotels have this five-year period, either a five-year goal that you’re going to sell it, or five-year renovation process, but at some point the repositioning of an asset requires the human intervention. No machine can reposition an asset. Because of that, I think that the value an individual provides now in revenue management is far greater than what it used to be in the industry.”
—Raul Moronta, SVP of revenue management, Crescent Hotels & Resorts, on the importance of revenue managers today even with more data and automation in the industry.
Tweet of the day
Slide of the day
If the first day of the Hotel Data Conference was about outlining the external factors impacting the hotel industry, the second seemed to be a closer look at the things the hotel industry could be doing better for itself. This theme was underlined during both of the general session panels, starting with the “Data that makes you say ‘hmmmmm’” presentation from Adam Sacks, president of Tourism Economics, and Elizabeth Winkle, STR’s chief strategy officer.
One of the most interesting tidbits from that panel was the notion that baby boomers (defined as people 55 and older) have grown to be the largest generation in terms of share of households and, more importantly for the audience, share of spending on lodging. This flies a bit in the face of the fact that a lot of the discussion around marketing and branding efforts seems to be more focused on millennials.
Keeping the theme going, former Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide CEO Frits van Paasschen talked about how the industry needs to do a better job of being innovative to protect itself from the ever-growing threat of disruptors.
—Sean McCracken, News Editor
In today's session on "The costs of loyalty and distribution in a discount world," I realized there's a lot of navigating to do in terms of loyalty programs.
There are different types of members, such as those who want to rack up points for their next vacation, and then, as TravelClick's Shayne Paddock put it, there's the business traveler "who wouldn't mind (hotel staff) knowing (his) name instead of asking, 'have you ever stayed here before?'" When he's been there multiple times.
Paddock also mentioned that companies need to rework their points and programs, and that it's nearly impossible to reach the top tier. So it sounds like the industry still has a lot of work to do when it comes to mastering loyalty.
—Danielle Hess, Reporter
On the final day of my second Hotel Data Conference, I picked up on speakers urging their colleagues to be creative, think outside the box and tear down the wall of assumptions that can be the barrier to a new perspective or idea.
On the “Generating demand from different generations” panel, Martha Lomanno Glose, director of market and hotel insight for Choice Hotels International, said hoteliers are so fixated on millennial demand that they’re assuming all millennial guests want the same thing. Fellow panelist Chris Johnson, VP of sales and marketing at Fillmore Hospitality, encouraged attendees to craft experience packages and food-and-beverage amenities that cater to a wide variety of palates.
Later, a group of revenue-management executives who participated on “The maturing role of revenue managers” panel emphasized how important flexibility and evolution are to their discipline. Hitesh Patel, president and CEO of Capital City Hospitality Group and vice chairman of AAHOA, said the young revenue managers with the greatest potential are those willing to develop creative strategies, take a little risk and balance multiple roles, even beyond their analytical revenue-management skills: “The ones that are thinking outside the box are moving up.”
—Dan Kubacki, Associate Copy Editor