The 2021 European Revenue Strategy Forum (RSF) took place at the Ham Yard Hotel in London on November 1, with industry leaders imparting insights into what’s going on in the world of Revenue Management and what the future holds.
The event, based around the theme of Strategy Before Forecast: Open Up Your Revenue, was kicked off by keynote speaker David McCandless, Data Journalist and Founder of Information is Beautiful.
The Power of Data Visualization
McCandless’ keynote presentation, Data is Beautiful, focused on - as the name suggests - the beauty of data and how visualization can bring it to life, just like a photograph or a painting, making it enjoyable to take in.
“Turning your data into something visual is more effective,” McCandless said. “Visual data is more primary.”
“The power of visualization is great, it’s like the MP3 of knowledge. You can condense a huge amount of information into small spaces.”
“The data and the idea becomes alive - I love that about visualization,” he added.
Winning the Commercial Race
Next up was Jonathan Fuentes, Hospitality Technology Strategy Manager for Accenture, with his talk, On your marks, get set, go! Fuel for the Hospitality Commercial Race, during which he shared his industry perspective on how to use data to drive revenue.
Fuentes talked about the importance of being ready to take advantage of current pent-up demand and how having the right technology in place is key to doing this.
“There’s an increasing number of people ready to enjoy hospitality and we must be ready to react to the changes that could happen in the short-term and real-time because we live in a very unstable world,'' he said.
He added: “There’s a commercial race happening right now and being able to capture the demand and convert it into bookings is the key to winning this race.”
He continued: “Right now there are technologies that will give you the power to capture this demand and translate into bookings. Being able to be the first one in the mind of your customers is what will differentiate you from your competitors.”
Fuentes also touched on the power of segmentation, commenting: “Small and medium companies are starting to travel to events again. Identifying these companies and being able to showcase your hotel to them is key.”
He continued: “In this day and age it’s so important to dynamically update and react to events that are happening. For example, if we look at the volcano [currently erupting] in La Palma, we see that in the first few weeks, hotels were getting lots of cancelations. But then two weeks ago they started getting lots of demand because people want to go and see the volcano. We need to be able to react to events such as these.”
Touching on the theme of the event - Strategy Before Forecast - Fuentes said he agreed with the statement. He said: “A forecast is crucial. But you need to also establish a strategy to enrich this forecast and study that from a business strategy and technology perspective. Both of them should be completely integrated to ensure that your forecast is dynamically updating and able to react to what is happening in the world.”
Fuentes finished his segment by focusing on the importance of the human aspect in revenue strategy. He said: “The human perspective is more important than ever. Humans are the ones who will help you see if the data is correct….and show you the right decisions to take to make the business successful and to be able to win this commercial race that we’re all in together.”
The Cloud: Empowering Innovation
Next up was The Cloud: Empowering Innovation, a lively panel discussion delivered by John Lingos-Webb, Senior Director of Global Partnerships and Alliances for Duetto. The panelists were Richard Oram, Senior Director, Product Enablement for Oracle; Ben Thomas, Chief Commercial Officer for Penta Hotels; and Jon Davis, Chief Technology Officer for The Ivy Collection.
The discussion focused heavily on cloud migration; the steps involved, what goes on behind the scenes, and how the implementation is enabled.
Commenting on investment in the cloud, Oram said: “Europe is far more ahead than other regions. During the pandemic especially there was a sudden movement of people working in the cloud. Lots of hotel systems moved to the cloud and it’s growing faster than expected.”
Penta has already made the transition to the cloud, and Thomas commented: “We have always based the customer journey around tech. We looked at how we wanted the guest journey to be and how tech could make that happen. We sought tech that could deliver what we wanted, rather than delivering the service that our existing tech could offer.”
Host Lingos-Webb went on to ask what the argument is for moving to a cloud-based system, to which Oram replied: “Data breaches are a real concern. But once you move to the cloud, all the security hassle is down to someone else who you’re paying to deal with it, so you don’t have to worry.”
Thomas added that a big argument for cloud migration was the ability it gives you ‘to be able to work across countries and continents’. He said: “More things can be regionalized. You can be quicker to respond to a customer inquiry as an organization with the cloud. Having the ability to work remotely and access systems through cloud tech means businesses can continue working, even through events such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Davis added: “You need to look at how the cloud is going to work for you and make your life easier. That’s how we sell the idea of the cloud. We show you how much quicker things can be - the little things as well as the big things. Reducing real manual processes that are super boring - that’s what we focused on at each point.”
The final event of the day was a conversation between Karen Hutchings, Ernst & Young Travel, Meetings and Event Leader, and Chris Crowley, SVP Global Sales for Duetto, about dynamic pricing, the EY hotel ‘open marketplace’ and whether corporate travel will (or should) ever get back to pre-pandemic levels.
“We don’t want to go back to pre-COVID levels,” Hutchings said. “We need to travel. We miss the smells, cultures, and life on the road. But do we have to do it in the same way? I don’t think so,” she said, leaving the audience with plenty to think about as the event came to a close.
Missed RSF London? Don't worry. The event was also live-streamed and can still be watched on-demand. Simply register here: https://www.revenuestrategyforum.com/london