80% of HOSPACE 2014 delegates believed the UK hotel market to be out of recession

80% of HOSPACE 2014 delegates believed the UK hotel market to be out of recession

88% stated they were investing in hospitality technology in 2015

74% of HOSPACE audience polled believed that the hospitality industry was not good on

‘Big Data’

Spotligh Panel on Big Data at HOSPACE2014

Spotligh Panel on Big Data at HOSPACE2014

At last week’s HOSPACE 2014, 80 per cent of delegates polled believed the UK hotel market was now out of recession, and 88 per cent said that they planned to invest next year in hospitality technology.

The delegate polling was undertaken – via a HOSPACE technological ‘first’, the Benbria Take 3 version of the Loop, requiring delegates to use their mobile technology to vote – at HOSPA’s prestigious Annual Conference and Exhibition, held at the Sofitel London Heathrow, Terminal 5, which this year attracted a record attendance of over 410 hospitality industry finance, revenue management and IT professionals, speakers and suppliers!

The polling supported the day’s major conference sessions that included the eagerly awaited ‘Leaders Panel’ where a distinguished line-up of hospitality operators and senior leading specialists shed light on current management thinking, under the expert questioning of Pride of Britain Chief Executive, Peter Hancock. With an upturn in the economy, the big question for the panel was ‘how is the hospitality industry investing in the future’?

The experts – who included Steve Cassidy, Area Vice President, UK & Ireland, Hilton Worldwide; Simon Ewins, Chief Operating Officer, hub by Premier Inn and CSR, Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants; Heiko Figge, Head of private equity company Moorfield Group’s hospitality portfolio; and Phil Le-Brun, Senior Director - European Restaurant Solutions at McDonald’s Europe – had their views reinforced by delegates, with 80 per cent believing the hotel market is now out of recession and 88 per cent stating they were planning to invest in hospitality technology in 2015. However, the HOSPACE 2014 audience sent a discouraging message to the big brands – with 72 per cent voting an emphatic ‘no’ to the question: ‘Do hotels or restaurants have to be part of a big brand for market success?’

‘How the hospitality industry can get the most from the data insights revolution’ was the subject of the very first in-depth, 70-minute ‘HOSPA Spotlight’ session at HOSPACE 2014. The top line-up of ‘information insights’ specialists, dealing with the hospitality industry, discussed how to gather and use data more effectively; and their message to hotel operators about ‘big data’ was start small, set your sights high but be prepared to scale up fast and really focus on the information that affects you most. Consider which questions need answering before starting collecting large volumes of data which would be difficult to process. The Spotlight Panel Chairman Michael Prager – non-executive Chairman of Optimal Monitoring Limited & Hospitality Pro, and formerly Senior Vice President Sales & Marketing for Europe, Africa and the Middle East, Hilton Worldwide – compared the collection of data to be “like taking a shower in a fire hydrant. You have to synthesise the huge volume coming at you. Think big, do small”.

The good news for the industry is that 77 per cent of HOSPACE 2014 delegates polled said they understood what ‘Big Data’ really is; and 87 per cent thought they would invest in insights from their business’ data. The ‘data insights revolution’ is an area where OTAs, airlines and supermarkets have traditionally led the way in customer relationship management and loyalty schemes, so it perhaps came as no surprise that 74 per cent of the HOSPACE audience polled believed that the hospitality industry was not good at obtaining insights from their own data.

There was no question that the hospitality industry has got a lot of catching up to do in this respect. Indeed, the panellists looked to ‘Big Data’ as a possible way to regain ownership of the customer, which many feared had now gone to the OTAs – as panellist Rajesh Vohra, Sales and Marketing Director, Sarova Hotels, said at the afternoon ‘HOSPA Spotlight’ session on ‘Hospitality cures for sleepless night anxieties’: “OTAs only merchandise the sale and are geniuses at closing the sale. We have allowed OTAs to own the customer”.

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