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CEO Spotlight: Chakorn Chamnanchang, Atmind Group Bangkok

As a local hotel chain in Thailand, we were struggling to be precise with pricing and grow revenue year on year. We were using Excel to manage our revenues, and I thought there must be a smarter way to do this. I started looking for support via software. I started my research online, where I found the top three RMS’ - IDeaS, Atomize, and Duetto. 

I had trials with all three platforms and met with the teams. Duetto's platform is the easiest to use, has an intuitive interface and all the functions fit my properties’ needs perfectly. The Sales team was great, super responsive, and helpful, they understand the product well. Moreover, Duetto's customer service and Customer Success team made a huge difference, they are professional and knowledgeable, and they were extremely helpful in terms of onboarding and training our team. 

Being inexperienced in revenue management means that data is the most powerful decision-making tool for me, and Duetto has changed how I work.

I wanted to go further with my Duetto knowledge and requested a chat with Marco Benvenuti, Co-Founder at Duetto, to discover more about the company’s amazing journey so far.

Marco kindly agreed to catch up with Chakorn Chamnanchang for a conversation that sparked many great topics. This CEO Spotlight is a quick summary of the discussion between these two industry leaders: the hotelier and the tech evangelist.

Chakorn Chamnanchang: How did the COVID pandemic change things at Duetto?

Marco Benvenuti: Before the pandemic, Duetto was running at 300 miles an hour. It was in a period of hypergrowth. And then COVID happened. And that was a stabilizing time for Duetto, especially in terms of reinforcing the company’s culture.

Duetto, by design, was set up as a geographically dispersed company. If you have an internet connection, a laptop, and a phone you can work from anywhere. We were always remote, and because of that, the company responded well to remote working patterns.

The pandemic was a good reset time. It gave the company time to breathe. With a reset, you get to rethink priorities. We came out of this reenergized and refocused. We didn’t do massive layoffs. There was no massive scar on the company. We could weather the storm. Now, the company is hiring again and enjoying a  period of growth.

CC: Remote working is harder for a hotel company. On the operations side in hotels, you have front-of-house dealing with the guest, and then you have back-of-house roles that can be performed anywhere, and where performance is more important than the time you work. How do you think hospitality can manage this?

MB: Working in hotels is hard. When I was working for Wynn, I was doing 12 hours a day in a basement office in a suit and tie. That mindset is hard to change.

Now, why can't you work from home unless you are a front desk agent or guest-facing? With cloud-based technology, a revenue manager can change rates from home. Hotels are resistant to that change because they feel they need to see you. The more flexibility you can create the better it will be, although obviously, you can't have housekeeping working from home! There are some roles this doesn't work for. That’s the nature of the job.

MB: How do you distribute your product? How much comes through your own channels?

CC: For Atmind Group, local business is currently a very interesting market because direct bookings are doing very well.

We have a government campaign whereby the government supports 40% of the rates so that we can offer local discounts – but only if it is booked directly. That has turned 60-70% of domestic business into direct.

Domestic travel has shot up because of these campaigns. A lot of younger people are traveling, but it is hard to get a credit card here in Thailand. We don’t use them. Vendors are using QR code scans to transfer cash instead.

We had to build a whole segment in Duetto to accommodate the government campaign. And it has been good and bad because when a new campaign is coming out there are no new bookings while people wait to see what the offer will be. The customer has been trained to wait. They expect to get a 40% discount, but in reality, hotels are just increasing their rates by 20-30%.

CC: Do you think hotel companies that use discounts to fill up are harmful in the long run?

MB: Definitely! You are training the customer to wait for the discount. If you are a real estate investor that wants to flip the property in three years it’s probably a good strategy but if you want to build the brand and be there in 10-15 years it can be incredibly detrimental.

MB: What expansion plans do you have for Atmind Group? Are you considering international expansion?

CC: We are looking. But we build our own properties and starting construction in a different country is difficult. We build economically. I think Japan has some potential as I understand the market well as I studied there; tourism is underutilized, but labor costs are high.

Locally we are expanding. We want more Bangkok projects. We are kicking off another construction project here later this year. We are starting to expand our four-star portfolio. It will be a four-star property in an area with a lot of Japanese people.

We also plan to expand in the three-star sector. Again we will build because acquiring right now is also not great.

MB: Here in the US, they keep saying we are in a technical recession but hotel room rates are off the charts and you can’t get a seat on a plane. Everybody is coming to Vegas. I have seen recessions and this is not one! You cannot find contractors. It will be interesting to see where we go from here.

CC: I think in APAC it will take a little longer. We are not quite done with COVID just yet, sadly. It is surprising how little it takes to discourage people from traveling. It takes just one PCR test to ruin demand.

MB: You have a very exciting business!

CC: It is a lot of fun. We don’t go 300 miles an hour but we are getting there.

Interested to learn more about how Duetto could help boost your revenue? Get in touch today: 


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