Back when global travel was freer, Scott Dahl, Program Director for our new Master’s in Hospitality Strategy and Digital Transformation, flew to London to attend an important conference devoted to driving hotel revenues. Having had time to reflect, he brings us some of his key takeaways from the event…
Just like years past, after attending the 2020 HSMAI Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) at the iconic Savoy Hotel in London, I am left with several significant takeaways. But by far the largest takeaway hit me well before I boarded my plane back to Switzerland. It still rings loudly even though, right now, the world feels different: My students need to be here.
The ROC Conference is an annual gathering put on by HSMAI (Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International), bringing together Europe’s (and the world’s) hospitality commercial leaders and the numerous companies that support them in the quest to drive hotel revenues. Just about everyone who is anyone in hotel sales, revenue management, digital marketing, online distribution and technology is there.
As usual, this year’s event was filled with amazing content. Dr. Kelly McGuire, revenue management expert and Principal of McRevenue, and Juanjo Rodriguez, Founder of The Hotels Network, presented separately on the current hot topic of Artificial Intelligence. Together they weaved a very understandable picture of what AI is and, perhaps more importantly, what it is not.
Dr. Peter O’Connor, the well-known Professor of Digital Disruption at ESSEC Business School, was both brilliant and hilarious when he shared his current research, playfully challenging the concept “OTA: bad, direct: good”; the far-too-simplistic interpretation that many hoteliers have made on the relationship between hotels and the online travel agencies.
There were also amazing presentations from industry powerbrokers like Google, Ideas, OTA Insight and Duetto; as well as several panels, including an excellent session focused on sales organization structures and how roles are evolving.
Throughout the event, I couldn’t stop thinking that for a student staring at the transition between several years of mostly theoretical learning and a career of putting that knowledge to practical use, this information – and how it was being delivered – would be priceless.
Choose your topic, expand your network
And that’s not all. The group also broke into three consecutive round table discussion sessions, where attendees chose topics based on their specific interests, meeting in small interactive groups with experts. Sessions focused on topics like digital marketing, revenue management tech, booking engine personalization, and sales. What an amazing opportunity to listen to, interact with, and maybe most importantly, network with the industry’s best of the best.
I did run into several of my past students, most of whom have graduated in the last two years. Based on the most common responses being things like “Wow”, or in some cases just a very revealing wide-eyed look, it was obvious they were taking on a ton of new, or paradigm-shifting, information. They all had stories about the things they had learned and, more importantly, the people they had met. Their unanimous approval was the final validation for me.
Next year’s conference has already been announced, returning to The Savoy in London on January 26th 2021. By then I hope our industry, and the wider world, is back on a more even footing.
I’ll be spending the coming months spreading the word about HSMAI and The Revenue Optimization Conference, most specifically the huge opportunity it presents for the future leaders of the hospitality industry.
If you think that might be you, I hope to see you there.