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Data-Driven Growth, IoT & More Takeaways from the 2015 Revenue Strategy Summit

Revenue strategy includes much more than rate optimization – it’s the art and science developing a 360-degree environment that grows overall market size, attracts more guests and cultivates relationships that engender true loyalty. This comprehensive approach to growth is what makes me look forward to the Revenue Strategy Summit – held in its 3rd edition this week in Washington, DC, organized by Stacy Silverman and hosted by our friends Duetto and Kalibri Labs.

Some of the top ideas & takeaways from the 2015 Revenue Strategy Summit included the following:

The world at your fingertips
The proliferation of data and better mechanisms for turning that data into insight has given us unprecedented opportunity. “What would you do if you had all the knowledge in the world at your fingertips?” asked Marc Teerlink from the IBM Watson Group.

Data and data-driven companies will catalyze growth
Ashford’s Sloan Dean noted that the hospitality industry still has a very tactical way of looking at change, and to grow in today’s economy, a new approach is needed. “At Ashford we believe data companies will be the big drivers of economic growth moving forward,” he said – expanding on the strategy outlined by Monty Bennet at the recent NYU Investment Conference.

The hotel industry has focused on product and brand for the past 50 years. For the next 50, it will be on relationships and databases.” Monty Bennett, CEO Ashford, Inc.

Data must be integrated into systems and processes
Data insights and integrated tech systems allows us to play ‘proactive chess,’” shared Jason Theilbahr of Red Lion Hotels. “If our CRM profiles are growing, then we can be more relevant and helpful to you as a guest.

Data requires interpretive storytelling
Without stories, we have no context and using the data becomes difficult,” observed Shalabh Kayastha, Executive Director of Performance Strategy of Fairmont Hotels – sharing how he is working to help his team become better storytellers. “The bar has to be raised for everyone in our organization.

Internet of Things: an overlooked focus for hotels
The Internet of Things (IoT) was raised both by Sloan Dean of Ashford Hospitality and Ethan Hawkes of McKinsey as an area more hotel brands should focus on for differentiation. Hotels’ ability to invest capital into infrastructure to enable this could create meaningful differentiation vs an AirBnB-type experience, noted Dean.

Hawkes explained his own home, equipped with the Nest thermostat, keyless entry and smart TV – which cost in total less than $500. This experience at home creates an expectation on the road.

I will be loyal to whichever hotel will give me a similar experience.
I’m tired of having to stand in line at checkin, fumble for cash for the bellman, adjust my room tempurature, and so on.

The Inevitability of Change
Several panelists discussed how various constituents in the hotel industry have a vested interest in “standing in the way of progress” – but how holding on to the status quo is doomed to fail eventually. Duetto CEO Patrick Bosworth noted, “Anytime we try to force customer demand into our business model, we are susceptible to being disrupted.

Outsourcing vs. building internally
Several panelists spoke to the ineffectiveness of legacy hotel companies with so much to worry about, trying to build better technology than venture backed companies that focus exclusively on one area. Fortunately, “Hospitality is incredibly attractive to tech innovators” remarked Shai Zelering of Thayer Lodging, adding that it’s best to partner with best-of-class providers to gain the advantage.

What about you?

We would love to hear from you if you attended this event – what were your top takeaways?

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