It was an honor to be invited to give the closing keynote address for The Leading Hotels of the World 2011 Sales, Marketing and Distribution Conference at the Kameha Grand Bonn in Bonn, Germany.
The topic of the presentation was Deconstructing Distribution – It’s all about the Customer with a focus on the customer, the channels and the future.
Setting the scene, the luxury hotel industry continues to recover from its steepest decline on record that unfortunately coincided with a period of momentous technological advancement – particularly mobile and social media that have significantly empowered consumers.
As a result, hotels and resorts target a changed guest, armed with access to information and backed by a network of trusted advisers – both corporal and virtual. The hotels also face an impossibly complex variety of distribution channels that have expanded into social networks and location-based services.
The session began with a quick look at three potential pitfalls luxury hotels must avoid to maintain focus on the customer:
- SOS – “Shiny Object Syndrome” – Adopting technology without having a definitive strategy for how it will positively impact the guest experience
- “Pepe Le Pew Style” – Self-absorption blinding a hotelier from understanding the expectations, needs & preferences of the guest
- “Confusing Customer Engagement with Marriage” – The hotel is not the Prince or the Princess, it is the bystander trying to attract their attention
The presentation then reviewed consumer characteristics, personalization and customization challenges, including the intersection of multiple traveler personas, seven phases of travel, and six potential hotel touchpoints.
Distribution channels were also covered including Social-Local-Mobile (SoLoMo) convergence, The Splinternet, and discount channels like flash sales, group buying, new discount models and packaging.
The future of distribution covered voice interfaces, near field communication interfaces in mobile devices, the integrated travel experience hinted at by Apple’s iTravel and the continued existence of traditional channels – agencies (online & offline), GDS, OTA and call centers.
Below is a copy of the presentation. It may be downloaded using the View on Slideshare link.
Overall, the conference was a great success, owing to the strategic direction communicated by Leading Hotels CEO, Ted Teng and a strong agenda that allowed for a high degree of interaction between attending luxury hotel sales & marketing personnel, Leading Hotels of the World staff, and invited guests.