Michael Schäffner joined Duetto in March 2017 as Director DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland). In February 2021 he was promoted to Vice President of Sales EMEA.
An experienced hotel industry professional, Michael previously spent time working
for hotel technology companies Serenata and Nor1, following years of on-property hotel experience, including time with The Setai in Miami and Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley.
Here, we catch up with him to find out more about how he has settled into his new leadership role, learn about his career path to Duetto, and the achievements he is most proud of.
You were promoted to VP of Sales for EMEA in February. How have things changed?
What has changed is that my mindset is not only on DACH but EMEA now. I need to be aware of what is happening across multiple countries – and it changes daily, especially nowadays!
Another big change is that, not only am I part of a team, but I am now responsible for growing that team. Even with the pandemic, we’ve tripled the sales team in the past eight months, which is an amazing thing to achieve and be a part of. The team has grown in line with our own growth in the region. We’ve welcomed a number of new clients onto Duetto in EMEA this year, including Novum Hospitality, Dusit Thani, and Louvre Hotels Group. It’s been a very exciting start to my new role!
What markets in the region are you seeing opportunity in?
There’s a lot of movement in Spain. And then I would say DACH, where lately there has been a lot of positive news - which is also indicated by our newest clients in the region such as Penta Hotels, Sunstar and VAYA resorts. When you look back at the last 18 months and you see how rough it was for hotels globally, what is being achieved is incredibly positive.
As we move into the recovery phase, how important are industry partnerships right now?
Internally we have created new roles, focusing on partners.
We’ve entered some important partnerships in Southern Europe with ITH and HOSBEC. And I’ve joined the Europe Board of HSMAI, which is exciting.
Our Revenue Strategy Forum took place in London earlier this month. It was our first in-person event in two years and was a huge success. The line-up was a testament to the strong relationships we have in the industry, with Oracle, Accenture, and EY all on the bill. You can still access the event On Demand here.
We’ve got the most touchpoints, right now, as a company, but there’s a lot more to come.
Tell us a bit more about your role with HSMAI Europe
We had our first board meeting in October in London and it was the first time for us to come together as a group. I like the mix of professionals on board; bringing expertise from global chains, mid-size players, and tech companies together. Crisis always brings opportunities and this crisis is also the ideal opportunity for the HSMAI to strengthen its position and refocus on its core values and help the industry to recover and grow.
Like many of us here at Duetto, you come from a hotel background. Why did you make the move from hotels to hotel tech?
I’ve been working in the hospitality industry for 18 years now.
I started with a management traineeship at Auberge du Soleil in the Napa Valley. I was in California for 18 months, which was probably the best time of my life.
From there I went to work for The Setai in Miami. That was an amazing experience; a Leading Hotel of the World, with the most expensive penthouse on the South Beach at $30,000 a night.
Then I moved back to Frankfurt where I opened Roomers as Resident Manager, at just 27 years old.
In 2010 a friend of mine I had met in San Francisco approached me and asked me if I wanted to go into the tech world as they were opening an office in Frankfurt, and that was Nor1.
I did that for three and a half years and it was fantastic to be part of an early-stage startup. I always kept the connectivity with the US. I went back to San Francisco once or twice a year.
Then I moved back to Munich, where I grew up, and started working at Serenata. Now, I was covering the globe. I was in the US one week, Mauritius the next - it was crazy but great to see the world!
And then I got approached by Duetto. And here we are, four and a half years later!
What has been the highlight of your four and a half years with us?
There are so many, but overall, it’s the growth of the company. Duetto is nine years old, and I’ve been here half that time. But I’ve also seen it from the outside. It’s exciting to see where we’ve come from. For example, I was the first employee in Germany and now there are five of us! Being able to participate in that growth and have an impact is unique.
And the people are just one of a kind... We talk about being part of the Duetto Family, and that might sound weird for outsiders, but that’s how it is.
We have a great team, amazing culture, and strong success – despite the pandemic we have welcomed so many great logos onto the Duetto platform. No one knew Duetto here in DACH five years ago, now we’re a market leader. That’s pretty cool!