On June 19-20, 2018, 623 hospitality professionals gathered in Houston for education and insights into revenue management at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International's (HSMAI) Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) Americas.
ROC officially kicked off with an opening general session emceed by Dr. Kelly McGuire, SVP of revenue management for MGM Resorts International. Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist for the Economic Outlook Group, shared his geopolitical and economic forecast for the coming year. He cited tariffs imposed recently by the United States, increased cyberattacks, and the high likelihood of a recession in the near future as some of the biggest concerns for the travel industry. Baumohl urged hoteliers to be proactive about pricing, and to have game plans in place for plausible unfavorable scenarios such as company-wide technical disruptions and a decreased number of international travelers to the United States.
The opening general session also featured a "Think Like an Owner" panel, in which asset managers and owner representatives shared their perspectives on how revenue management professionals can increase their "asset management acumen." One takeaway was that revenue managers increase the likelihood of successful relationships with owners, GMs, and colleagues in other departments if they are proactive/act like leaders, communicate clearly and concisely, understand the business mix, and have a good handle on digital marketing.
Another highlight of ROC was the two-part interactive session, "No Bull: The Great Debate," in which presenters debated two timely questions for the hospitality industry: "With advances in AI and machine learning, what is the future for humans in revenue management?" and "Do loyalty programs still have a place with today's consumers, or is loyalty is dead, requiring us to find another way forward?" Live polling and candid comments from audience members made for engaging discussions of both subjects.
Throughout the conference, a host of breakout sessions had interactive elements, such as polling and rapid-fire brainstorming sessions. Sessions delved into key issues for hotels and revenue optimization leaders, including personalizing paid advertising, leveraging social media, harnessing metrics and analytics, and maximizing non-room revenue opportunities. Recurring messages throughout the breakouts included the following: be willing to stop doing things if they no longer bring the same value; and, be intentional about communications across revenue, marketing, and sales, departments so that teams can work together, not in silos.
On the first day of the conference, which offered special workshops and deep-dive sessions, 53 individuals earned certifications after attending review courses in Houston—37 earned the CRME (Certified Revenue Management Executive) certification and 16 earned the CHDM (Certified Hospitality Digital Marketer) certification. More than 100 attendees were treated to Research in Action presentations—a lightning round-style series in which faculty from leading universities shared their research studies. A broad range of pertinent presentations touched upon reporting biases in TripAdvisor reviews, how hotels can best compete with Airbnb, revenue optimization in the food service industry, rate parity prohibition, and non-room revenue sources.
For the third year in a row HSMAI's ROC Americas drew more 600 attendees.
"We're pleased that hospitality professionals continue to get value out of this annual event," said Bob Gilbert, CHME, CHA, president and CEO of HSMAI. "We're constantly looking for new ways to enhance the ROC experience and prioritize offering relevant content on trending issues so that attendees can be proactive and strategic as they incorporate new technologies and ideas back at their businesses."
In addition to plentiful education and networking opportunities, the conference showcased a record 42 partner companies serving the revenue management industry, including consultants, technology vendors, and companies providing products and services in revenue management, execution, and reporting.
As usual, meeting with and exchanging ideas among attendees was a big benefit for attendees at ROC, since the conference is a rare chance for revenue management professionals to meet others who work in similar roles and who face similar challenges. The event was also an opportunity for attendees to give back to the host community. HSMAI Helps enlisted attendees to assemble 550 hygiene kits that were donated to a local Houston shelter.
ROC Americas also provided a forum for the presentation of awards to legendary and emerging leaders in the field of hospitality revenue management. HSMAI's highest honor for revenue management—the Vanguard Award for Lifetime Achievement in Revenue Management—was bestowed upon Robert (Bob) G. Cross, chairman of Revenue Analytics. HSMAI and its co-presenter, Rainmaker, named Cassandra Bond and Derek Brewster 2018 Revenue Management Professionals of the Year.
The day ended on a high note with an entertaining game of "Revenue Feud," inspired by television game show Family Feud.
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The Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International (HSMAI) is committed to growing business for hotels and their partners and is the industry's leading advocate for intelligent, sustainable hotel revenue growth. The association provides hotel professionals and their partners with tools, insights, and expertise to fuel sales, inspire marketing, and optimize revenue through programs such as HSMAI Digital Marketing Strategy Conference, Adrian Awards, and Revenue Optimization Conference. Founded in 1927, HSMAI is a membership organization comprising more than 5,000 members worldwide, with 40 chapters in the Americas Region. Connect with HSMAI at https://www.hsmai.org, www.facebook.com/hsmai, www.twitter.com/hsmai, and www.youtube.com/hsmai1.