What Keeps Hoteliers Up at Night?

Q&A with Fred Deschamps, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group

By Suresh Acharya Vice President of Product Development, JDA Software Grou | January 06, 2013

What are the major drivers of change confronting the hotel industry? To delve deeper into these issues and more, I recently spoke with Frederic Deschamps, vice president of global revenue optimization at Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, about the issues that currently keep him up at night. His concerns are not much different from executives in other industries; like many others, he stays awake thinking about pricing and the impact of social media, mobile technology and big data. Excerpts from our conversation follow:

What are the business critical issues that keep you up at night?

First, price transparency's fundamental reshuffling of the transaction with the customer. We used to be able to rely on channels to target customer segments with distinct needs. Now customers have access to all the rates in real time so we have to rethink how we segment and what the customer is willing to pay.

Additionally, the meaning of brand has evolved. Brand is a way to convey product content and set expectations with the customer. Until recently, that's really all the customer had to go on, with the occasional magazine review and hearsay. Today, numerous websites aggregate customer feedback into satisfaction and product content indicators so the brand level expectations are supplemented with a finer, individual hotel level of detail and there is instant accountability on delivering these expectations.

Finally, the "now" phenomenon, the ubiquitous availability of information, is shortening the customer's decision cycle. There is instant access to ratings, comparisons, and opinions ‒ both expert and experiential - so customers research and decide basically when the need occurs. Electronic payment options further facilitate this. The specific impact to hotels is that the booking curve is growing ever shorter. This deprives the hotel of vital information on how to price a room night, as forecasting what ultimate demand will be is based on ever shorter booking curves and can become less accurate.

What are some of the dominant challenges facing the hotel industry in 2013 and beyond?

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.