AHC Day One: Innovation is key to differentiation
AHC Day One: Innovation is key to differentiation
11 OCTOBER 2018 8:21 AM

The focus of the first day of the Annual Hotel Conference was the persistent need for hotels to innovate and emphasize the quality of service of a hotel stay.

MANCHESTER, England—The theme for the 15th Annual Hotel Conference is “Innovate to elevate,” and on the first day of the event, the 950 delegates concentrated on differentiation and loyalty.

During one panel, titled “Points of view: Direct from the consumer,” Nicholas Northam, managing director of the United Kingdom for Interstate Hotels & Resorts, said service will continue to be the way hotel companies attain differentiation.

But differentiation won’t be reached by investing trillions in gizmos and clever electronics, at least in hotel guestrooms.

“Guest-facing technology should be way down the list in terms of technology spend,” Northam said.

The merged world of brands and Airbnb has created a new booker and guest, panelists said.

Trust, they added, is out of the equation, a thing that more rightly belongs in the 1970s and 1980s, decades in which the guide book and travel agent ruled the decision-making process.

The days of people trusting what they are told are less and less. You just have to look at the world of the sharing economy, the panelists said.

In other words, people are far more prepared to take risks. Yes, you will be led down the garden path once in a while, but on the whole this method will lead to an experience, a surprising experience, a life-changing experience, an experience that leads to repeat bookings.

Experience is the differentiator of the modern era, and hotel brands had better take note and innovate, innovate, innovate, both in terms of what they offer guests and offer owners and operators in terms of cost savings, targeted spend and bottom-line returns.

Quotes of the day
“Hotels are moving away from the hotels of the City of Ford to the hotels of the City of Facebook. … We have moved away from an age of Black Swans to a world of Black Elephants.”
—Leo Johnson, Presenter of BBC Radio 4’s program “FutureProofing,” disruption lead at business consultancy PwC and brother of British MP Boris Johnson.

“Those who are very comfortable with the notion of crypto and virtual currencies must be aware that the governments of the U.S. and China, and others, would be deeply worried about that level of disruption.”
—Frank Reeves, co-founder and CEO of bookings technology company Avvio

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