The Direct Booking Summit 2017: Day 2 highlights

NEW YORK, NY - 28 September 2017 - As the curtain falls on the Direct Booking Summit in New York, it’s time to reflect on everything we’ve learned over the last two whirlwind days.

Aside from the fact that hoteliers really know how to party — we have the blisters on our feet from last night’s gathering to prove it! — we discovered so much about an industry that feels more exciting and inspirational than ever.

Here’s our pick of the learnings:

  1. There's nothing better than bringing hoteliers together

Sound schmaltzy? Maybe - but it's true. The Summit was absolutely fizzing with energy from start to finish, as hoteliers opened up about what they loved (and hated!) about the ever-changing online travel industry. One hotelier told us, "I used to think I was the only one with the problems at my hotel - but then I came here and I heard everyone struggling with the same. I love it."

Another, "the content is amazing. I'm leaving with a bunch of notes on actions that I can take back to my hotel and share with my whole team!"

  1. It's time to put thought into action

Last year, we were following hot on the heels of Marriott and Hilton's 'book direct' campaigns, and it felt like hotels were still figuring out both the extent of the problem and whether there was anything they could do about it. This year, it felt like there'd been a real sea of change. Hotels were swapping strategies left, right and centre, and speakers were focused on the tangible changes that hoteliers needed to start putting in place.

Cindy Estis Green of Kalibri Labs kicked off Day 2 with a deep dive into how to account for every cost that goes into acquiring a guest. Based on that data, she told us, "every one of you needs to figure out the optimal business mix for your hotel." Rather than continuing with the way things have always been done, GMs and revenue managers need to be prepared to instill real change in their operations. "We can't operate with analogue thinking in a digital world."

  1. Data isn't the be-all and end-all

In his Direct Booking workshop, Chief Tease Charlie Osmond addressed the topic that is repeatedly touted cure-all to every hotelier's woes: data.

Data is useless until it's interpreted correctly. "Too often we're seeing people misinterpret their data, or read things into their data that they want to see, " said Charlie. "The truth is, you've got to be testing things at scale before it means anything. You really do."

"If you do the math, an average hotel would need to be running an A/B test for two years before they had a high enough volume of conversions to draw statistically significant conclusions."

Sounds a bit doom-and-gloom - right? Far from it - hoteliers can still make the right decisions based on the right research, but should treat 'data' (as an undefined buzzword) with the caution it deserves. It's all about what works for your hotel, your team and your guests - and that combination will be as unique to you as your fingerprint.

Before our jetlagged and (nearly delirious) content team rambles into incoherence, we'll wrap up the highlights for now - but make sure you subscribe to the blog to stay tuned for videos, interviews, photos, and testimonials from the industry event of the year!

This post is just a snapshot of the action from New York’s Direct Booking Summit. We haven’t got the room to do the lively debates had by delegates and speakers justice, let alone the dance floor moves we witnessed at the penthouse party!

Luckily, we’re hosting a sister event in Barcelona on October 18th and 19th. There is still time to book your ticket and your chance to learn about the best direct booking strategies in the business, along with the latest on loyalty, personalisation and much, much more. Register at http://www.directbookingsummit.eu

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Mobile Technology: Relentless Innovation

Technology has become a crucial component in attracting and retaining hotel guests, and the need to enhance a guest’s technology experience is driving a relentless pace of innovation. To meet and exceed guest expectations, 54% of hotels will spend more on technology in 2018, and mobile solutions in particular will top the list of capital investments. Many hotels are integrating mobile booking, mobile keys, mobile payments and mobile check-in into their operations. Other hotels are emphasizing the in-room experience, boosting bandwidth and upgrading flat screen TVs to more easily interface with guest mobile devices. And though not yet mainstream, there are many exciting technology developments on the near horizon. The Internet of Things (loT) is taking form in some places, and can be found in guest room control systems, voice activation systems, and in wearable sensors that can be used for access and payment options. Virtual reality headsets are available at some hotels so guests can enjoy virtual trips to exotic locations or if off-property, preview conference facilities and guest rooms. How long will it be before a hotel employs a fleet of robots for room service, or utilizes a hologram as a concierge, or installs gesture-controlled walls that feature interactive digital displays? Some hotels are already using augmented reality for translation services, or interactive wall maps, or even virtual décor. This pace of innovation is challenging property owners and brands to stay on top of the latest technology trends while still addressing current projects. The January Hotel Business Review will explore what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in the mobile technology space.