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Your personal Digital Transformation has already started… Like it or not.

22.10.20

At this point, you would have to be living under a rock to have not heard the term Digital Transformation. When I talk with people though, I find that they have a wide range of definitions for what it really is.

Some speak of companies like Google, Amazon, and Facebook, that have grown from nothing to among of the most valuable in the world in just a very short time. Others seem more focused on a specific way their life has been impacted, like online shopping, Uber, or more recently, online meeting technology like zoom, which already existed but only recently showed its true value when we lost our ability to have a face to face meeting for granted. The way millions of people go to work has been changed forever as a result.

I'm also finding, often with people who have recently seen the Netflix special “The Social Dilemma” that there is a growing awareness of how the money is really being made as our society evolves in the digital direction.

There is also a lot of ignorance. Often, surprisingly, with my students, despite having only lived in a digital world. For example, almost no one says they want their private information shared online. Yet during their daily lives, when a website asks for their consent for something, the vast majority click yes without even thinking about it.

This single click enables advertisers to “magically” stalk you around the web with extremely personalized advertising, some of it even directly linked back to a shopping cart you might have recently abandoned.  Except for it feeling like someone is spying on you (they are), it seems harmless, but some online retailers, including travel sites, use this technology to create a sense of urgency by serving slightly higher prices to returning visitors.  Charging strangers less seems like a useless strategy, but those who are unaware end up paying more. Some websites are already using more sophisticated “fingerprinting” technology to follow you based on certain unique characteristics of your computer or mobile device.

Our love for sharing on social media has made us vulnerable as well.  The tech exists now to scan photos looking for just about anything. Combined with existing Artificial Intelligence, it could be pointed at future guests’ social media profiles to look for food pictures, then initiate a “personalized” dialogue with the chef about the restaurant specials during their upcoming stay or invite them to a chef’s table. Unfortunately, that same technology could be employed to ensure that there are only beautiful people around the pool.

By no means am I saying we should go back to living under a rock but clearly, much more attention needs to be paid to what should be done with technology, versus simply focusing on what can be done with it.  Each of us has a responsibility to become educated if we want any control of how our future unfolds. Since few companies are likely to choose social responsibility over profit, the loudest voice we have is our wallet. Consumer acceptance.

Facial recognition technology is a great example – I am currently doing some research with an interesting Swiss start-up, Follow the Face, on applications for the hospitality industry. Consider using its ability to anonymously measure a person’s sentiment to scientifically evaluate customer service –a great feature. Now think about a rooftop bar, using the technology to identify you, then target your contact list and social media connections with extremely personalized digital marketing messages, all without your knowledge.

After watching “The Social Dilemma”, I concluded that, at least for social media, it was too late, the cat is definitely out of the bag. But, as someone whose full-time job it is to evaluate and consider the implications of emerging digital technologies, I can assure you that your own personal digital transformation is only just beginning.

For more information about Les Roches and Master’s in Hospitality Strategy and Digital Transformation, click here or contact the recruitment office directly.

Comment by a hotel industry professional, Sophie Jean Hanlon

Alumna of Les Roches, Senior Business Development Manager at STR

When I joined STR I was astonished to see hoteliers being so reluctant to use independently verified benchmarking data. It is no secret that hotel owners and general managers have historically been nervous to share their performance statistics relying, instead on their own online rate comparison manually entered in endless Excel spreadsheets. Apart from the obvious time involved in this manual data collection, hoteliers are missing out on the true revenue collected by hotels as average published rates are only one part of the complex hotel rate landscape – shared between online travel agents, wholesalers and other negotiated rates – which revenue managers need to juggle on a daily basis.

Today, independent companies like STR have automated systems in place to guarantee data confidentiality and offer a depth of analysis that is second to none. Once hoteliers overcome their fear of sharing their hotel’s performance statistics, the benchmarking world opens in front of them with independent comparison on occupancy levels, average daily rate (ARD), revenue per available room (RevPAR), profit and loss statements and the new kid on the block, business on the books.

Data analytics is all around us and I personally believe that the advantages far outweigh the cost!

 

Sophie Jean Hanlon

Les Roches Alumna and  Senior Business Development Manager

After her business management studies at the University of Glasgow, Sophie undertook her Postgraduate Diploma in International Hospitality Administration at Les Roches International School of Hotel Management in Switzerland. There, she focused her attention on Revenue and Financial Management.

In 2014, Sophie joined STR’s hotels team and expanded the company’s coverage by offering benchmarking solutions and market intelligence to new hotel clients.

Most recently, Sophie has been working with non-hotel clients and raising awareness for STR’s services by attending and presenting at industry conferences and networking events all while building lasting relationships with new clients.

Scott Dahl

Programme Director - Master’s in Hospitality Strategy and Digital Transformation

Scott Dahl has held various senior level leadership positions in Revenue Management including VP of Revenue Management at Hersha Hospitality Management and SVP of Revenue Management at Sunstone Hotel Properties.

Most recently he was Corporate Director of Revenue Management at Apple Leisure Group before moving to Switzerland in 2016.

He founded Hotel Revenue Resources, Inc. in 2006, and the company continues to successfully provide Revenue Management technology and services to several hospitality management companies throughout the United States.

Possessing direct experience in all segments of the North American lodging industry, Scott also held a total of 12 hotel operations and sales positions at ten different hotels throughout the U.S. before specialising in Revenue Management.

A 1986 graduate of The University of Massachusetts, Scott was recognised in 2005 among the 25 Outstanding Minds in Hospitality Sales and Marketing by HSMAI (Hotel Sales and Marketing Association International) and a current member of the HSMAI – Europe Revenue Optimization Advisory Board.

Nationality: American

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