EHMA AGM: March 30th, Friday
Thursday 5th April 2012
EHMA AGM: March 30th, Friday
The Educational Day
The Future of Luxury Hotels - Keynote address by Mr. Ted Teng, President & CEO, The Leading Hotels of the World, Ltd. According to Mr Teng, Luxury is the very best 1%; it is unexpected. He said that it is the client who dictates the future of the luxury hotel.
At the same time, you, hotelier, should manage and control the distribution. Finally, you should adapt your offer to the economic situation and sometimes, it’s better to reduce sales than to lower the price. It’s best to do the necessary renovations now to respond to your clients’ expectations. To see the luxury of the future, look to the fundamentals of luxury of the present and past. Apply the future technologies to these fundamentals.
2. Leading Hotels into Future: Challenges and Opportunities by Dr Bill Carroll of Cornell University, School of Hotel Administration.
During his presentation, Dr Carroll highlighted new challenges of management, globalisation, new megatrends, and different cultural and ethnic demands of employees. According to Amadeus “From Chaos to Collaboration” 2012, the next decade and beyond will see a qualitative shift in the travel experience. The future of travel is likely to be shaped by technological innovations that reduce stress, uncertainty and chaos. It will allow the traveller to harness the experiences of friends, family and fellow travellers more intelligently. And it will herald a new eco-system whereby information is freely exchanged and the idea of one-way transactions becomes obsolete.
2. Automatic transit: For the first time ever, checking-in could become the exception rather than the norm, as manual check-in will be replaced by faster and more efficient systems that track flows of people.
3. Payment with memory: All data on payments made before and during a trip will be integrated, acting as a digital memory of expenditure and activity for individuals, groups and travel industry operators.
4. Intelligent recommendation: As technologies make it easier for people to tag and review all aspects of travel experiences, travellers will be increasingly influenced by peer groups.
5. Taking the stress out of travel: The rise of the wellbeing agenda and changing demographics will place greater emphasis on technologies that help to make travel a less stressful experience.
6. The business ‘tourist’: Continued emphasis on work-life balance and wellbeing at work may mean employers encourage people to take time off on either side of a business trip.
What Does It Mean for Hospitality?
Dr Carroll finished his presentation with the words of James M. Kouzes and Barry Posner: “Being forward looking – envisioning exciting possibilities and enlisting others in a shared view of the future - is the attribute that most distinguishes leaders from non-leaders”.
3. Panel discussion on “Hotel of the Future – between fashion and mega trends. How to navigate to success”
Moderator: Prof Ray Iunius, Ecole hôtelière Lausanne
Ray Iunius: More we are changing, nothing is changing. 15 years ago to clean up a room in the palace it was 30 minutes. Today it takes us half an hour(!) Tell us in this case, what is the productivity in the luxury hotel? What is the relation between productivity and quality? In which way we can do something for the productivity? And can we talk about the productivity of the luxury hotel or there is the quality only?
Panel: There are 2 different ways to see the productivity.
One way is obviously the operational side, very customer-driven, which is extremely important. Maybe we should measure the productivity not with the time, speed, completeness and money but in the satisfaction of our client? What do our customers say about us? With a Social media world we can get instant feedback from our customers, we can also compare our activity with our competition. Maybe the productivity is measured by the number of positive comments we’ve received from our clients and personnel. Do we monitor this?
From the owner perspective, it is about the percentage of GEP the manager is delivering. They measure the productivity in currency, money.
Ray Iunius: Very often we can find in the hotel room a kit to write the letters with a very nice paper with a hotel logo. When was the last time when you sent the real letter? But we are still investing in these obsolete details such as letters kit, fax or mini-bars. We are no more living in the push economy but in the pull economy. And who is pulling – the guest. All we have to do is to listen to the guest. It’s easy to be clever. It’s not expensive to make some changes to make pleasure to the clients.
Panel: It’s important to create something special and unforgettable that we can get only in this hotel. It’s all about guest experience. It can be the way you fill in your mini-bar, USB charging or multi-plug-in next to your bed, wireless charging pads etc.
Ray Iunius: As we said yesterday, iPad, iPhone and other smart devices are already here to book the room, open the door. And maybe in 3 to 5 years time the hotel reception may not exist.
Panel: The luxury hospitality is a mixture of technology and people. Luxury should have a possibility to choose between an automated kiosk check-in and a front-office manager at the reception.
Luxury has become a standard. Most of the people today have a better bed, drink a better coffee, have a better breakfast, a better connectivity at home than this is served in the hotel. If we don’t remember the basics of why people are in the hotels, we are not talking realistic.
The bottom line is not the revenue management or pricing but giving a customer to buy and pay for a larger service. The margin is dramatic. Think about your employees capable of upgrading the customer and knowing instantly what rooms are available. To up-sell the customer is to get the maximum use of the asset and improve the value of the customer.
Ray Iunius: Each time we are talking about the hotel of the future, the only way to present it is through new technology. But the hotel room is not a laboratory. At the end of the day, we are still looking for a good bed, bathroom and dinner. Is the future of the hotel related to the technology? How much technology do we need? And if we forget about technology, what are the essential things in the hotel of the future?
Panel: Hotels should invest both in technology and in people.
Ray Iunius: For my children, for all the questions there is an answer. You just need to Google it. Why do we still need schools? What can we teach today?
Panel: We don’t need to learn by heart anymore, we just need to be able to know where to find the information. Next thing is that people start to use YouTube more than Google to find an answer. This is a complete change that’s happening. The new generation is very talented and creative. If we, for example, travel and use GPS to navigate and it doesn’t work, we are in trouble. But those digital natives will find a solution anyway.
Give me something or tell me something that I cannot Google. That sounds as a challenge. Yes, you can find everything you need, but you will pay for the time. The added value is to sort the relevant information, to filter the information in terms of quality and save time.
What we teach is a frame of reference: to think analytically and to analyse the situation and find the right decision.
Ray Iunius: Before we arrived in Vienna, my wife checked the first to comments on Tripadvisor to decide that the hotel was good. What are your thoughts on this? How do you control this?
Panel: Reputation management has always existed. The Internet just provides a different platform. Word of mouth is critical in the luxury sector and if we stick to the fundamentals, there is no difference that we can discern in terms of what people are saying. On the positive side, it spreads just as fast. When the customer has wonderful experience with your hotel, they share this on Social Media but you cannot control it. We should manage this at a product delivery and not after the fact.
Ray Iunius: Do you have somebody in your company to manage this? If you don’t speak about yourself, somebody else will do it.
Panel: More and more hotels are looking to hire a social media manager.
First of all, you need to deal with one comment at a time and it’s possible with the exciting technology. Secondly, you get the comments based on the quality of service you provide. Great service will drive the positive comments. Thirdly, the search is personalised. Example of TripAdvisor, if it says, “a great place for teenagers, I won’t stay there. If it talks about golf, I will”.
To improve reviews, you should provide a better service and to resolve the issues when they occur and finally go after your customer to provide the service.
Ray Iunius: What should we do in terms of marketing? Operations? Everything now is about perception. How can we manage emotion?
It is always about authenticity. When the standardisation stops and the individuality starts, people are experiencing a better stay.
At the same time, the second largest search engine is YouTube. It’s about a visual and about my visual I share with the people. So it is more valuable that the picture of a hotel be taken by the guest than by the hotel.
Ray Iunius: How can we surprise our guest (in a good way)?
Pleasure is hard to define. The consumer of the future will be more diverse - different people from different regions.
We are talking about personalisation. It’s wonderful to understand each guest and meet their needs but you do have to be careful about why people travel. And they travel to experience what the destination has to offer. It’s all about destination, to experience what you have to offer. Please don’t change your product. Don’t offer a strudel to a Viennese guest in Lausanne. Educate your customer to enjoy your product so that they can share this.
Last remark, is to change the word “unforgettable” to “advocable”. What your guest will advocate as a result of their stay – that’s the value.