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Lucian Kilchsperger is a Deployment Project Manager for EMEA here at Duetto. He joined us in September 2018 after three years of working for Sabre. A graduate of Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne he is passionate about hotels but also passionate about tech. Joining Duetto enabled him to bring both together in a role that is instrumental to getting our new clients up and rate optimizing as soon as possible.
Here we check in with him to learn more about what his role entails, how things have changed during the pandemic, and why, if he hadn’t joined the hospitality industry, he might have sought a career in espionage.
We present Kilchsperger, Lucian Kilchsperger, licensed to thrill revenue managers with his swift onboarding skills.
What does your role as Deployment Project Manager entail?
The deployment team takes over once the customer signs the contract with sales. I’m often the first person new clients meet when starting their relationship with Duetto. I do a kick-off call and explain what will happen in the next few weeks until they go live and start to use Duetto.
We start by reaching out to the client’s PMS provider to get the systems connected and once that is all planned, we start doing the work. In the meantime, we give the clients homework to provide us information about their room types and set up in their PMS so we can build their hotels in Duetto for when we are ready for connection. How long this takes depends on the PMS and whether we must work with an installer or we can do everything ourselves,
Once the PMS is connected, we receive the historic and future data and handover to our DQE (data quality evaluation) team to check this. Once that is completed, we start working with our Customer Success team to get the customer trained. They start logging in, do their set up and this is where it gets more interesting with the client, and I go more into the background. Once they push rates, I hand them over to Customer Success and Support. My job is done.
Do you have any top tips for hotels to ensure an optimum deployment?
Yes! Engage with your PMS early as they can have long lead times to get connection dates and we can’t do anything about this. And be quick with giving us the information we need. If changing out your tech stack, choose a modern, cloud-based PMS.
How has your role changed during the past couple of years?
When the pandemic started it was a shock, everything stopped, and we didn’t have anything to do and had to quickly reschedule all our work. But soon hotels realized they could use the downtime to evaluate their tech stack and finally implement the RMS they wanted.
A lot of hotels looked at their whole tech stack and changed their systems. So, we’ve also done a lot of migrations to more modern, cloud-based PMS.
We’ve also seen tech vendors, such as Oracle, pushing clients to go to the cloud. We’ve done more Opera Cloud migrations in the past year than ever before.
So, 2021 was a busy year for the deployment team? What did the team achieve?
It was a record year! In 2020 we did around 540 deployments, in 2021 we did more than 600.
There are many reasons for this. We had a lot of new clients join us, which was very impressive, under the current circumstances. . Also, the team grew, and we improved a lot of our processes and how we use internal tools such as Salesforce. This meant we got faster. Our average onboarding from PMS integration activation to go live is now just 3.5 weeks.
I take care mainly of our EMEA clients, mostly in the DACH region and Spain, because I can speak their languages. But then we are a global team, so I do help on other geographies, such as the US and APAC. I did my first casino resort onboarding this past year, which was very different from working with hotels in Europe. The whole loyalty program part was very interesting to see.
Who won the race? Who had the quickest implementation?
We had a client that completed integration in just one day. My colleague Sarah Chopping was the mastermind on this.
The stars need to align for this to happen. It has to be a client who is very engaged, who works very quickly with us, and who already knows our software so that they can push rates immediately.
Any tech trends you are seeing in deployment right now?
We’re seeing a lot more hotels embracing cloud-based solutions and that really is a time saver. For example, we work a lot with Mews, which offers a self-serve integration through its Marketplace. And, as mentioned, we’re doing a lot of migrations to Opera Cloud.
Working in the cloud makes it much easier for us and the client to complete the integration. Because we only have one endpoint we connect to. With legacy or on-prem technology that always sits either on-property or in a data center, so we must do the same work over and over again, such as whitelisting IPs. With cloud solutions, we plug it in and it works.
You are a graduate from Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne. Did you always want to work in hotels? Why? And if not hotels, what?
As a young boy, I wanted to be either an astronaut or James Bond. I was very aspirational! Astronaut didn't work out. And as for being James Bond, I moved to the UK and quickly realized you can only work for MI6 if you are British (I’m originally from Switzerland).
I was always fascinated with hotels. I like cooking, being a host, and staying in hotels. I traveled a lot when I was growing up.
When I worked in reception I always looked out for special characters in the lobby and wondered if any of them were spies. See, we’re back to James Bond again!
What prompted you to move from hotels to technology and then hotel tech?
I worked in hotels before I studied hospitality management in Lausanne. During my course, I did a lot of internships but it’s a very demanding schedule; you work on the weekend, at nights, etc. At the same time, I became interested in tech and started reading a lot of tech journals. I did an internship in a small tech startup and thought it was interesting and realized I was good at it.
Initially I went to work for Sabre; it was travel-related but the work I did there was more with the GDS and travel agents. I always missed the connection to hotels because that is where my passion lies. Luckily, in 2018 this opportunity with Duetto came up and I thought it was the perfect combination of tech and hospitality.
The team is amazing. We are a very cool company full of very friendly and very smart people. Every day is different depending on the client. And sometimes I just go on Google and check out the hotels we work with and be reminded of what amazing places there are in the world. Thinking perhaps, one day, I’ll take a vodka martini at the bar – shaken, not stirred, of course!
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