After dozens of presentations, hundreds of delegates attending and two days packed with unforgettable experiences, the Direct Booking Summit EMEA has come to a close for another year. Some of the brightest stars in hospitality shared their expertise from locations around the world and hotels of all sizes, providing each attendee with practical advice towards our shared common goal - empowering hoteliers to drive more bookings direct.
Before we look ahead to our next DBS in Miami, we’re putting a spotlight on our most memorable moments of the conference, which we started with our in-depth wrap-up of Day One. The second day of the summit kept up the incredible standard set by the opening speakers, and provided delegates with a fascinating glimpse into the state of the hotel industry as a whole - and where it may be heading in the near future.
After a busy first day rounded off by an evening of networking beneath the Arc de Triomphe (complete with champagne bar and live band), our delegates joined us to kick off Day Two, with a diverse set of topics including regulatory change, brand loyalty, virtual reality and more. Kicking off the second day of DBS was Celine Chaussegros of Sojern, providing an incisive ‘state of the industry’ breakdown in her morning workshop. Sharing the findings of Sojern’s recent research, Celine revealed that, with 40% of travellers under 45 years old, platforms such as Instagram can no longer be ignored - otherwise hotels could miss out on attracting this sizeable demographic. By finishing with her predictions for the travel industry in 2020 and beyond, Celine set the conference up perfectly for a day of looking to the future and assessing how hotel marketing as we know it is radically changing in the digital age.
Nicolas Durand, Senior Director for Global Distribution at Jumeirah Group and a founding member of the Hotel Heroes, followed Sojern with a comprehensive analysis into rate leakage and how to combat it. Unsurprisingly, the issue of rate leakage was never far from the surface across both days of the conference - though the industry may be moving in the right direction, there’s clearly a long way to go until hotels truly get their distribution under control. Mona Maamari and Jonathan van Spijker Baan from Radisson Hotel Group advocated strongly for dynamic pricing as a solution, declaring that hoteliers not investing in the solution were “leaving money on the table”. But their advice came with a word of warning, as the speaker team underlined the risks associated with going “too dynamic, too quickly”, citing Uber’s unfortunate price hikes during terror attacks as an example to avoid.
The theme of future-gazing was a defining trend of the conference, with many speakers giving their own predictions on what’s to come for the industry. Amongst the optimism and innovation, though, were some words of warning on everyone’s favourite topic - EU regulation. Lily McIlwain, Triptease’s Head of Marketing, joined Charlie Osmond in conversation on the EU’s upcoming Strong Customer Authorisation (SCA) requirements, which are set to significantly change the online payment experience for customers across Europe after the deadline for implementation of September 14th 2019. With many hotels unaware of this impending deadline and unprepared for the changes that would need to be implemented, the ramifications of SCA proved to be a popular topic of discussion throughout the conference as a whole.
The Paris debut of DBS also kept up the summit’s reputation for heated panel discussions, including the often-controversial topic of ‘are booking engines working hard enough for hotels?’. Our speakers (and our audience) generally agreed that booking engines are by no means perfect, and hotels needed to “be proactive in reviewing [their] booking engine constantly”. However, they also underlined the importance of reliability and reputation when looking for a new solution. For example, one panellist remarked that while an innovative new booking engine had fulfilled 96% of their hotel’s requirements, the provider had since become defunct. In this case, a more experienced alternative proved to be the better choice.
Victor Oliver Rullan, Global Digital Channels Director at Meliá Hotels International, followed up by lifting the lid on his direct channel data dashboards, demonstrating how information can be used in a powerful (yet entirely accessible) way by even the most number-averse hotelier. A group debate on the meaning of loyalty closed off the conference, with the panellists referencing how elements of successful schemes such as Amazon Prime and Easyjet Plus could be applied within hospitality.
Despite two days of incredible talks, this year’s DBS in Paris proved to be far more than simply a list of keynotes. In our Networking Lounge, delegates shared their own stories, advice and controversial hot takes based on an abundance of global experience. One-on-one coaching on particularly prominent pain points, including metasearch and - for the first time at DBS - UX best practices were incredibly popular, providing hoteliers with practical takeaways in the gaps between presentations.
While DBS served as a celebration of the positive nature of an industry finally taking the power back into its own hands, the event also provided a reminder to hoteliers that, with the challenges looming ahead, there’s no room for complacency. We’re determined to ensure that the Direct Booking Summit remains an essential hub of knowledge for hoteliers, and look forward to bringing the show to Miami in October. Will we see you there?