2022 marks Duetto’s tenth year and to celebrate reaching double figures, we’re running a very special series of Q&As with some of our longest-serving unicorns. The second in this series features Debra Stock Wolman, Group Vice President in the Americas. Debra celebrated eight years of working at Duetto in May and has some wonderful memories of her years with us. We chatted to her about those memories, how Duetto has evolved over the years and what the future holds.
Can you tell me a little about what you did before Duetto?
I knew from an early age that I wanted to work in hospitality and so right after school, I went to work at Expedia. I was there for a number of years in many different markets, doing different things on the supply side and managing the relationships between the hotels in different markets and the Expedia brands. I worked in Dallas, D.C., and New York.
What do you think has been the biggest change since you started with Duetto?
There have been so many changes and it’s been unbelievable to see the evolution of the product, the team, and the company. When I joined we had one customer; I was one of the first salespeople to join the team and we were just bringing the product to market. Over the years everything has changed - the team has grown, the product has evolved and become much more sophisticated, and our customers have grown. But the things that have stayed exactly the same are our personality, our culture, and our mission.
What would you say makes a good unicorn?
A great unicorn is someone who thinks outside of the box and who isn’t satisfied with the status quo. That’s why Duetto was created - everyone had been doing revenue management the same way for many years, but that didn’t mean it was the right way to do it. At Duetto, we are disruptors. We strive to be better and to make a difference, to keep evolving, and keep pushing the industry forward.
Everyone at Duetto is unique, but is there one characteristic you believe you have to have in order to work at Duetto?
Passion. Everyone at Duetto is passionate about what they do, whether it’s travel, revenue strategy, or the hotel industry. The one thing we all have in common is that we are passionate about our work.
Do you have a ‘golden memory’ of your time at Duetto?
This is such a hard question because there are so many good memories to choose from! However, the one that really stands out to me is quite recent. It has to be the first time my team all got together after the COVID-19 pandemic, at HITEC 2021. We hadn’t seen each other in two years and it felt like a family reunion. It was so amazing to see each other and be together in the same room, it really stands out to me more than anything. It was really special and very emotional.
How different is the hotel tech landscape now to when you first started?
When I first joined there weren’t a lot of options for hotels out there when it came to revenue strategy. Everyone was doing things the way they had always been done. No one had really pushed the envelope and so we were the pioneers, the first to talk about Open Pricing. And then we just generally pushed the industry forward, on to talking about other ways we can innovate. For example, how we could continue to personalize the guest experience during the booking path and how we could optimize revenue on personalized upsells. These things weren’t being talked about eight years ago, but now we’re having much more sophisticated conversations about enabling a better guest experience and a better behind-the-scenes hotelier experience in order to optimize revenue and create efficiency in our day jobs.
Where do you think Duetto will be in another ten years?
I don’t know exactly where we’ll be but I do know that we will continue to innovate and push the boundaries. There are so many opportunities within the hotel experience that can be looked at through a new lens, to look at whether we can create a better guest experience, how we can optimize revenue etc, whether that’s within the hotel space, additional segments, or other spaces that could use some help with revenue optimization. But I do know the future is bright, and I’m excited to see where we go.
And how about you? Where will you be in ten years’ time?
Hopefully, I’ll still be at Duetto talking about the latest and greatest hotel technology. And visiting our customers around the world to talk about their strategies, that’s one of the things I love the most about working here.
You were on the panel for the Women In Travel Thrive Global Day of Impact event on May 17, can you talk a little about this?
Thrive is an amazing network of people in the travel industry who are talking openly about women’s issues and about how we can continue to elevate and empower women within our industry. I spoke on the panel with a number of other amazing female leaders from different hotel companies and I actually thought it was very unique in that we all tried to be vulnerable, something you don’t often see in that kind of setting with 100 people dialed in. However, we all tried to share a story that perhaps we hadn’t shared before, and I think it was a really special moment. I just hope it will continue to encourage other women to open up about their own experiences and have an open dialogue about what happens today in the workforce, how we feel, how we’re treated, and how we can help each other make it better for future generations.
If you were in charge of throwing Duetto an anniversary party and you could invite anyone - alive or dead - who would you invite?
I would invite our original customers because they shared our vision with us, and they stuck it out with us when we were truly just a startup. They also weren’t satisfied with the status quo and they were instrumental in collaborating with us to create what Duetto is today. Although that continues to be the case now, as our customers are heavily involved in our products and our roadmap, I think we need to celebrate those original customers who believed in us and came along with us on our journey. And then of course we can also invite someone famous and cool like Madonna or Rhianna, just for the selfie opportunities!
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