What do Industry Leaders Think About the Digital Future for Hospitality?

TravelMedia covers the fourth annual Travel Question Time event in London, produced by DataArt and Tnooz, and focused on the future of digital hospitality. The panel featured the industry leaders, including Elliott Pritchard, Chief Marketing Officer of Triptease; Greg Abbott, Head of Travel and Hospitality Practice, DataArt; Andy Owen Jones, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of BD4 Travel; Suzie Thompson, Chief Marketing Officer of Red Carnation Hotels; and Chris Roe, Accor’s Vice President Sales Distribution and Loyalty, UK & Ireland.

“This was our fourth – and the most popular – DataArt QT event. The free-speech-and-dialogue-is-king rule allows industry leaders to go for it, and discuss things candidly. Friendly controversy is what makes it lively and relevant”, said Charlotte Lamp Davies, Leader of DataArt Travel and Hospitality Practice, Europe.

Some key takeaways included:

Key Disruptions

  • Hotel distribution is being upended by OTAs vertically integrating.
  • Look at what the “mad” people are doing on the fringes to know what’s coming.
  • The industry must get the basics right before introducing new tech.

Customer Relationships

  • Hotels want to build relationships with customers, but airlines are different.
  • Hotel relationships alter, some provide full experience, others partner with local businesses.

Acquisitions – the digital future for hospitality

  • Brands now need a portfolio of options.
  • Possibly partnerships, not acquisitions, are the future.

Technology – industry must become braver

  • The industry must adopt the solutions for better customer experience that already exist.
  • The hotel industry is a “great big dinosaur” and needs to change.

OTAs and the Distribution Power Game

  • Mid-size OTAs will struggle now that the side bar has gone on Google in favour of three large adverts at the top of the page.
  • OTAs are now effectively becoming tech companies.
  • Distribution is about power, cost and differentiation.
  • The key to success is a mix of OTA, direct, corporate and leisure business.

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