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Data = Fuel for The Hospitality Commercial Race

Jonathan Fuentes is Technology Strategy Manager for the hospitality industry at Accenture with more than 12 years of experience. Throughout these years he has collaborated with more than 15 different hotel chains, leading the process to define their technology strategy and align it with their business needs, applying the latest trends in technology for this.

Jonathan will be presenting at our Revenue Strategy Forum (RSF) in London on November 1, with a session entitled: On Your Marks, Get Set, Go! Fuel for The Hospitality Commercial Race.

Here, we catch up with him to discover more about what to expect from his RSF presentation, how he sees hotels adopting tech as they come out of the pandemic, and why being flexible and adaptable will be vital to revenue strategies in 2022.

Without giving too much away, what can we expect from your presentation at RSF London?

At Accenture, I’ve been working for the last few months on an initiative that is called ‘How to use data to drive revenues in hospitality’. I’m using this as the basis of my presentation.

This is mainly focused on the moment where we are now - we are trying to leave this pandemic situation - and how we can focus on data when we know historical data is no longer viable or our main source to make decisions and make a forecast. What can you do? You need analytical data, third-party data, or data available on the web and social networks, etc. to make decisions regarding revenue.

I’m going to talk about how it has been, what hoteliers are doing now, and how I think we should use data (and what data is available) to increase revenue.

Our theme is ‘Strategy Before Forecast’ how do you think hotels can and should put strategy first as they plan for 2022 and beyond?

I completely agree with the statement. Strategy is something you should consider before forecast right now, and this is something that will continue in the near future.

Forecasts are very complicated to create right now because what has happened in the past is no longer current or viable. Hotels are questioning:

  • How much demand is out there that I am not able to capture right now?
  • Which markets do I need to position my properties in?
  • How can I use the data I have been collecting in my business, and which other sources of data do I need to capture?
  • How I can react in just a few minutes to what is happening in the world?

They are considering which types of technology they need to create this type of forecast, and this is where the commercial strategy becomes linked to the tech strategy of the chains.

One concept I think will be key is taking decisions in real-time. To be able to see what is happening outside and by this, I don’t mean comp set or price of a standard room in the hotel in front of me, I mean they need to consider how demand is, what has been the behavior of the demand in social networks, metasearch, Google, etc. This type of behavior – the huge amount of data being generated every minute – can be used to predict in real-time what is going to happen to your destination.

You need to anticipate what is going to happen next week or the week after. But also you need to anticipate the events happening right now.

Imagine if in 2020, when the world was locked down, hotels had been able to anticipate those calling to cancel and had planned to send a discount or bonus for rescheduling this booking. Changing cancellations by modifications of bookings They would not have lost the guest. But we were in shock. Anticipation in such complicated times is not easy.

Now, you need to have your forecast for 2022, set expectations for occupancy and revenue, and so on. But now what you also need is to dynamically change this every day and be able to be flexible and adapt according to the demand at that moment in time.

You are Hospitality Technology Strategy Manager at Accenture. What does that role entail? And how does Accenture serve the hospitality industry?

I’m part of the Travel Europe team of Accenture and I’ve been working here for the last 12 years, always in hospitality and tech-related roles. This is how I met Duetto and Cristina Blaj and Michael Schaeffner.

My position is very close to the CIOs and CTOs of hospitality chains, to help them make decisions about their technology strategy. As technology is increasing in importance in our industry, other business areas are also involved in the tech conversations to better align their objectives. I try to help them decide on which are the best steps to take in the future to align their technology strategy to their business strategy.

Has the pandemic sped up the need for change within the hospitality sector? And how has this led to greater adoption of technology and automation?

Lots of people want to travel, lots of companies want to start having events, and every hotel chain wants to acquire the main part of this demand. It is highly important to be present where and when a guest wants to make a reservation.

We have gone through different phases. When in lockdown most hotel chains were thinking to stop their technology adoption. ‘We don’t know what is going to happen’ they would say. But they had some things to fix – upgrade the PMS, for example, and they did it. We thought ‘This is happening now but at any moment demand will rise again, and we will be as we were before.’

Later, from December in Europe, companies started thinking: ‘OK, now we have some level of pattern with the news of vaccines, the market is going to restart, and we need to be prepared’ and they started thinking about how they were going to do this. They started to use tech levers to restart business.

Leisure is restarting and business is going to restart in the next few months (we hope). It is clear hotel chains are willing to invest in their technological transformation to be the first in this commercial race.

What will be the impact of automation on our industry post-pandemic?

Automation is going to be key in industry tech trends in the short term. And when you talk about automation you talk about how we are using AI and predictive analytics to automate, drive revenues or even reduce process inefficiencies.

The hospitality industry has historically been late in terms of the use of automation, but it is getting popular now. What I see is that other industries have been more focused on using automation to reduce cost and workload, whereas hospitality is more focused on how to automate processes to increase revenues and, honestly, from an AI responsible perspective, we love this position.

How have hotels adapted to the new and ever-changing market conditions?

It’s mixed. Some chains are working on planning their tech strategy for the next five years, while others have stopped.

Others are starting to open and build new hotels, which is a signal of the wellness of the business.

It is amazing how resilient our industry is. I am always happy to hear from my clients that they are opening hotels.

For investors as well as hotel owners, this is also a good opportunity at this moment. There are a lot of people willing to invest in hospitality right now.


Discover revenue strategy top tips from industry leaders from CBRE, ProfitSword, EY, Accenture, and more, in our latest Special Report, Strategy Before Forecast: Open Up Your Revenue. Download today:

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Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Marketing Communications.

Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA, and in 2022 promoted to Director of Marketing Communications. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.

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