The Direct Booking Summit: EMEA 2019 will be touching down in Paris on June 12-13.
In anticipation of what we expect to be the biggest Summit to date, we caught up with Rob Paterson, CEO, Best Western Hotels & Resorts. On Day One, Rob will step on stage as a moderator of the panel with senior hoteliers to discuss what is the most important investment you can make to increase direct bookings. Find out more about the panel What’s the most important investment you can make to increase direct bookings? and check the agenda here.
Rob Paterson | CEO | Best Western Hotels & Resorts
What are the biggest challenges that you face in your current position?
Rob: Technology and recruitment.
Best Western works on a membership model - a working scheme in which our Board of Directors is made up of elected hotel owners. To make it work, we use a myriad of digital platforms and tools for everything from PMS, to website performance, to marketing tools, to RMS and more.
Using tools that don't talk to each other makes it difficult for us to consistently cultivate enterprise-level data. It also complicates the integration of new technologies for optimizing guest comms, mobile check-ins, secure payment methods and more, with our current tools.
Recruitment across the board is challenging, particularly for 'next generation' revenue managers. Within individual organisations and an entire industry, more needs to be done to attract new talent into revenue management.
Currently, there's a misconception about career possibilities in the hotel industry. For example, if you search for images for a hotel school or hospitality course, you'll see a great number of chefs, receptionists and waiters, but not revenue managers. Young talent going into this industry doesn't have a genuine overview of what a Revenue Manager's role entails.
How has hotel revenue management evolved in recent years?
Rob: Revenue Management has become a lot more disciplined. Today's technology is beginning to handle a lot more of Revenue Manager's repetitive tasks. That's why revenue experts need to be far more creative in their strategies to continue bringing significant value to hotels.
What should hoteliers provision for when allocating their budget?
Rob: Technology- and innovation-related investments should be prioritised this year. We see that rates of return (RoR) are far higher for those than investments in brick and mortar!
What innovations for hotels caught your eye recently?
Rob: The truth is, I haven’t seen a lot of strong innovation in the hotel tech space recently. Most new products seem to add only fractional value to hotels, while the majority simply add another SaaS cost to your budget without a clear ROI to show for it.
However, there are cool innovations happening on the operational side of the hotel business, particularly around space optimisation and monetisation. For example, we see developers pushing boundaries on bedroom sizes, locations (e.g. going underground where land values are high), and Public Space / F&B configurations.
In your opinion, what is the impact of events like the Direct Booking Summit on the hotel industry?
Rob: This is the sole event to showcase the value of a direct channel. The Summit helps galvanise the direct booking narrative on a wider industry level and lets hoteliers see the bigger picture. It’s a great opportunity for hoteliers to discuss the industry's challenges together and learn from each other's experiences.
Join Rob and hundreds of fellow hoteliers during the Summit's two days of streamed talks, panels and workshops - as well as a legendary party.
Also, don't miss out on a one-on-one session with Triptease's Direct Booking Coaches taking place at the event. The sessions will focus on your hotel's website conversion rate optimization. To book a consultation with a Coach, register your interest here.