Nancy Rademaker, partner at Nexxworks, kicked off proceedings with an inspiring keynote that had many audience members nodding in agreement as she talked about the clash of the 'old normal' and the 'new normal'.
In her presentation, Rademaker talked about digital becoming the new norm, and how all businesses - not just hospitality - need to put extreme customer centricity at the top of their agenda.
"Will you be selling the same product on the same channels in 2030?" she asked the audience, answering "No way!".
"It's not a digital strategy that's needed, but a strategy for the new world. You can't just digitise your processes. That is not a new strategy. You must unlearn a lot of what you have learned," she added.
Talking about the customer experience, Rademaker pointed out that the customer journey is not a line. "It does not go from A to B," she said. "You must create as many touch points as you can. Reverse the pyramid. Start from the desired customer experience and work back to solutions and concepts."
In a panel discussion on whether the rise of the open hotel tech platform is key to the delivery of a connected customer experience, tech firms came together to discuss their role in delivering that customer-centric strategy.
Richard Valtr, founder at Mews Systems, in possibly the most memorable moment of the conference, explained how PMS systems need to be API-centric: "It's not about putting lipstick on a pig, it's about genetically modifying the pig so that it has luscious lips".
"We're looking at our industry as just one thing... we must be brave and look at how our technology can enable a huge amount of guest experiences outside of the hotel, outside of simply check in," he added.
Closing the event, Patrick Bosworth, co-founder and CEO of Duetto, took the conversation of delivering guest value to the next level. Loyalty had been a hot topic of the day, and Bosworth was concise in his opinion: "If you have a loyalty programme that doesn't reward the majority of your guests, it's broken."
Patrick closed the event with some top tips on boosting profitability and insight on the topic of personalised pricing.
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Sarah McCay Tams
Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.