Visionary leaders hk insight paper final_021118

Visionary Leaders HK Insight Paper

In Times of Uncertainty and
Technological Transformation
Adapting & Innovating
HOSPITALITY INSIGHTS & PERSPECTIVES:
Florida International University
Visionary Leaders Roundtable — Hong Kong
Top leaders from Asia’s most valued hospitality brands engage in an open dialogue to address
critical and thorny issues with high impact on the industry
2
To address these and other pressing issues
facing the travel and hospitality industry, Florida
International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School
of Hospitality & Tourism Management (CSHTM)
hosted a select group of prominent hospitality
thought leaders from Asia at the 5th
Annual Visionary
Leaders Roundtable (VLR) held at Marco Polo
Hong Kong in February 2017.
The Visionary Leaders Roundtable was launched in
2013 as a high-level ‘think-tank’ for hospitality and
tourism leaders to engage in an open-dialogue on
key issues with the highest impact on the industry.
Candid discussions - sometimes on provocative and
thorny issues - are the mainstay of the program to
draw out qualitative insight to move us quicker and
closer to viable and sustainable solutions.
Special thanks go out to participants, hotel partner
and presenting partners, Marco Polo Hotels,
Rainmaker Group, Sabre Hospitality Solutions
and the Hospitality Financial and Technology
Professionals (HFTP) for dedicating valuable time
and resources to produce the VLR in Hong Kong.
FIU actively engages with global leaders and industry
experts to stay in step with changing times that
are reshaping the travel industry. In doing so, FIU is
positioned to lead efforts that contribute towards
advancements made in the business of hospitality
and tourism.
MacroVision Network was privileged to
organize and deliver a series of five Visionary
Leaders Roundtables on behalf of Florida
International University.
BACKGROUND:
In a year filled with momentous and unprecedented change driven by
major shifts in global leadership, growing geo-political tensions and
disruptive-digital transformation, business leaders must tread carefully
as they prepare to manage through what could be a challenging time for
the tourism industry.
Two topics chosen for
discussion were:
	 Planning for the
Unpredictable
Moderated by Patrick Andres,
Managing Director, Asia Pacific,
The Rainmaker Group
	 Future Proofing Your
	Technology
Moderated by John Enright,
Director, Global Partner Solution
Services, Sabre Hospitality
Solutions
3
This insight paper provides key outcomes and opportunities on the issues discussed at the
Visionary Leaders Roundtable in Hong Kong. By publishing the candid viewpoints shared
by the participants, we hope to encourage further thought and dialogue – and keep the
conversation going until we arrive at a solution.
INTRODUCTION:
Setting the focus for a candid and lively discussion
was Mike Hampton, Dean, Chaplin School of
Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida
International University. He kicked off with a
provocative statement to draw attention to
the speed in which the business landscape is
transforming, and how hoteliers must keep up and
adapt to the pace of change in order to thrive during
constantly shifting market demands.
“We are in the midst of rapid technological, societal
and global environmental change where the things
that are familiar to us today and part of our everyday
life, could be obsolete or diminish within a few short
years. Self-driving cars, holograms, virtual reality,
augmented reality, AI and robots in the workplace
are already here, and we are just at the starting
point of what is to come. The advent of the next
generation wireless network (5G) alone will be
world-changing in ways we can’t even imagine now.”
According to the Next Generation Mobile Network
Alliance, the vision for 5G is an end-to-end
ecosystem to enable a fully mobile and connected
society.¹ With 5G, instant information will be just a
touch away, and almost everything will be connected.
While all this sounds very utopian and intriguing,
it can also be worrisome from the standpoint of
educational institutions, as well as human resource
and divisional managers. They have to produce
and manage talent who will be working in this new
environment and dealing with these rapid changes.
Dean Hampton added, “Since launching the first
VLR back in 2013, industry leaders have said that
we shouldn’t be focused so much on teaching
content any more. Instead, we should concentrate
on teaching students how to adapt, how to be
entrepreneurial, how to be creative, how to use
analytics and how to think differently, so that they
can adapt and leverage opportunities as the market
dynamics change.”
Recent technological transformations are
enough to keep most business leaders
wondering when the next wave of disruption
to their industry will happen. A large-scale
deployment of 5G is anticipated for 2019, and
once it’s widely available, its impact will be felt
across most markets and business sectors
including hospitality.
¹ “Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN): 5G White Paper”, www.ngmn.org/5g-white-paper/5g-white-paper.html
We cannot solve our problems with the
same level of thinking that created them
- Albert Einstein
4
Given what we already know and what’s coming down the pipeline, how do we
prepare today’s hotel manager and tomorrow’s hospitality leaders for a future that is
increasingly uncertain and technologically-driven?
THIS WAS AN OVERARCHING THEME FOR DISCUSSION AT THE VISIONARY LEADERS ROUNDTABLE 2017.
Managing in times of uncertainty and
unprecedented change
The past year has been marked by momentous
change – from Britain’s decision to leave the
European Union and a new era in US politics under
new leadership to rising tensions in the Korean
Peninsula.
Operating in a dynamic, changing and sometimes
volatile business environment in the Asia Pacific
region is quite the norm for many business leaders
in Asia.
However, the onset of new industry disruptors,
continuing uncertainty of Brexit, and concerns over
nuclear testing by North Korea, may give way to a
new set of business challenges unlike anything we
have experienced before. Ready or not, the world
as we know it today could change in an instant,
putting a company’s operating model, readiness and
continuity plan to the test.
While companies can’t always predict the future, the
leaders at this roundtable felt that organizations
should be more proactive in managing unknown
factors and risks, and driving positive change in the
following areas:
KEY INSIGHTS & SOUND BITES:
INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY
“Companies need to embrace innovation as one
of their core pillars. Innovation produces new
products and services, and ultimately delivers
greater value to our customers.”
This was a comment shared by one participant,
which triggered further discussion by the group
to suggest that - Continuous Innovation and
Transformation need to be brought to the forefront
and part of a day-to-day practice within the
organization.
Organizations that involve their customers,
employees, as well as their suppliers and external
insight/community panels in the creative-innovation
process stand to gain hugely by listening and
learning from those who share feedback. They are
in a better position to spot emerging trends, build
brand awareness and generate new business leads.
VALUE OF BROAD-BASED ACTIONABLE
CUSTOMER INSIGHT
The group touched on the need for contextually
rich and broad-based data that can produce
actionable insight for the benefit of multiple
departments.
TOPIC 1:
PLANNING FOR THE
UNPREDICTABLE
WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS:
HOW PREPARED WILL YOU BE?
5
Brilliant innovation and creative outcomes happen best when people engage,
deliberate and collaborate - which ultimately leads to good change.
Customer insight obtained through business
analytics is invaluable for tracking customer
satisfaction, retention and a myriad of other
important business activities.
Advancements in IT has made it possible for various
business units from hotel operations and guest
relations to marketers to identify, profile and engage
with customers on a select and real-time basis to
proactively service customers, while growing long-
term customer value.
Having a balance of foresight, hindsight and deep
customer insight will give hoteliers the confidence to
move forward and pursue new service initiatives and
programs, which sets them further afield from the
competition.
Leverage and Optimize Existing Data and
Customer Insight
For customer-facing industries like hospitality and
tourism, leveraging customer insight to connect
with customers’ emotions is essential to provide a
distinct level of personalized service that customers
yearn for.
Using customer insight to craft customer
engagement strategies and messages that “hit the
mark” is a powerful skill, strategy and growth engine
for businesses seeking new and untapped forms of
revenue from existing and future customers.
Revenue-centric, profit-optimizing technology
solutions, data analytics, deep customer
understanding and empathy that comes from
trained, curious and intuitive employees, can help
brands stand out from the countless hotels in the
marketplace.
However, consolidating data is an ongoing challenge.
Hotel transactional data and customer information
are typically held in various data repositories and
information systems that are often isolated rather
than integrated. The executives agreed that while a
wealth of useful, proprietary information does exist
on their premises, the problem lies with gaining
easy access to it in a useable format that can be
leveraged upon and actionable.
With hotels being so reliant on technology
systems to run their business, having collaborative
partnerships with solution providers who
understand the hotels’ pain-points,
and Help - Not Hinder the hotel’s ability to perform
at their very best is paramount.
LEADERSHIP AND THINKERS WITH TENACITY
REQUIRED
Managing during times of uncertainty require
leaders who are critical thinkers with a big-
picture mindset and the ability to swiftly size up
situations, re-strategize, formulate and execute
plans decisively.
All markets are cyclical with highs and lows. Instead
of going along for the ride as some do, being vigilant,
alert and always on the look-out for major changes
in the market can help mitigate risks and even allow
opportunities to be seized.
After all, just the sheer number of catastrophic
world events, such as devastating hurricanes, floods,
terrorist and cyber attacks that took place in 2017
alone can unnerve even the most experienced
manager.
A story shared by one participant pointed to the
need to be ‘Always On’, yet flexible in adapting to
shifting markets: “In this complex and dynamic
business environment, complacency and a
lackadaisical style of management will be tested
should disaster strike.” This bold and direct message
was poignant but true.
The participants had this to say on how to manage in
times of uncertainty and crisis: “Difficult as it may be,
instead of being overwhelmed and fearful of events
beyond our control, we should focus on the areas
within our sphere of influence where we can effect
positive change or mitigate negative outcomes.
“Depending on how you look at things, there could be
opportunities in the face of adversity for those who
confront problems head-on, address the issues and
turn things around in their favor.”
6
The high numbers of devastating events occurring
globally include extreme weather conditions, large-
scale involuntary migration, terrorist attacks and
cyber attacks.
While some events are simply beyond prediction,
those related to technology, the management of
technological disruption and cyber-related risks, can
and should be better controlled through proactive
measures to mitigate risk on all fronts of the
organization.
It’s hard to determine what impact a crisis may
have on your business or predict when the next
geopolitical flare-up will occur. With so much
uncertainty at play, it’s best to stay focused on your
long-term goals and invest more time and energy
on controllable areas like optimizing data-driven
customer insight, operational efficiencies, product
& service innovation and people development.
Together, they can strengthen the organization and
produce more enduring value for your stakeholders
and your brand.
Another salient point made during this
group discussion was the subject of Crisis
Management.
While many hotels have some form of crisis
communication system or plan to respond to and
contain any negative outcomes following a crisis or
tragic event, the group highlighted the need for a
comprehensive crisis management program with
more rigor to account for different categories of
crisis management.
In January 2017, the World Economic Forum (WEF)
released its 12th
annual Global Risks Report for
2017². This report highlighted the most significant
long-term risks worldwide, based on perspectives
from nearly 750 experts and global decision-
makers. The WEF report defined a “global risk” as
an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs,
can cause significant negative impact for several
countries or industries within the next 10 years.
Following the report’s release, of the possible crisis-
like events that could occur in the five key areas
it noted - Economic, Environmental, Geopolitical,
Societal and Technological - several “unthinkable”
events have already taken place recently.
INTERESTING NOTE:
The word ‘crisis’ in the Chinese language
is ‘wei ji’ (危机), which can be translated to
mean ‘wei… danger or adversity’ and ‘ji …
opportunity”)
² “The Global Risk Report 2017 – 12th
Edition”, World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2017
7
Transformative Technologies
The timing of VLR Hong Kong happened to coincide
with the release of the ‘Emerging Technology in
Travel’ 2017 Report by Sabre Labs³. The report
focuses on three megatrends poised to impact travel
over the next decade, and offers fascinating insight
and specific actions that travel agencies, hoteliers
and airlines should consider as they navigate this
rapidly changing technology landscape.
The three megatrends identified in this report -
Connected Intelligence, Conversational Interfaces
and Digital Realities helped spur a lively group
discussion on the potential to enhance customer
engagement and elevate guest experience to the
next level.
When asked how well the industry in general is
doing to harness the value of emerging technologies
to streamline operations and enhance guest
experience, this group said it’s still very much “work
in progress” and cited several challenging reasons
for it.
KEY INSIGHTS & SOUND BITES:
TEST AND MEASURE THE IMPACT OF NEW
TECHNOLOGY
The rapid development of new and innovative
technology is making it difficult for hoteliers to keep
up. Evaluating and conducting usability studies
and beta tests to determine a good match before
deployment is extremely resource-intensive and
time-consuming.
The participants suggested that this activity might
be better performed through a collaborative
research partnership between universities,
hospitality companies and solution providers -
where real-world applications can be tested
and prototyped.
A 2017 Report published by The Boston Consulting
Group (BCG) emphasized the value of being
true partners with customers – There’s A BIG
OPPORTUNITY out there for digital suppliers to
accelerate customers’ transformation agenda with
integrated, ready-to-use digital solutions.⁴
Other related challenges raised by the group -
especially for hotel chains - involved project funding,
integration of highly fragmented and legacy IT
systems and system-wide deployment issues.
BALANCING HIGH-TECH WITH HIGH-TOUCH
With technology playing a strategic role in driving
operational efficiency, customer engagement and
revenue growth, we may occasionally forget that
the ‘Business of Hospitality’ is all about people
interfacing with people – and it’s the organization’s
human capital that is the real value driver
for creating superior and memorable
customer experiences.
TOPIC 2:
FUTURE PROOFING YOUR
TECHNOLOGY
Do you remember the days of the telex, eight
track players and cassette tapes? Soon, we’ll
witness the next big tech revolution that will
have our industry grappling to adapt to a
changing operating environment where going
keyless, cashless and seamless will be more
the norm than a nice-to-have.
³ “Emerging Technology in Travel: 2017 Report”, Sabre Labs, www.sabre.com/labs/emergingtech/
⁴ “How Can Digital Suppliers Accelerate Customers’ Transformations?”, The Boston Consulting Group, March 2017,
www.bcg.com/publications/2017/telecommunications-technology-industries-how-can-digital-suppliers-accelerate-customers-transformations.aspx
8
Alongside technology, enabling continuous learning
and leadership development is critical in equipping
and fueling employees with new idea streams to
drive growth in times of rapid change and
digital transformation.
The same 2017 BCG Report also highlighted “the
importance of Digital Skills as performance
enablers”. The report emphasized how essential
it is that companies assign high importance to
digital transformation accelerators such as in talent
acquisition is essential.
CUSTOMER INSIGHT TO ENLIVEN CUSTOMER
EXPERIENCE
Today, technology is a strategic enabler to drive
efficiency, customer engagement and business
growth.
However, according to Dr Janelle Barlow - noted
trainer, entrepreneur and best-selling author of
business books on branded customer service - to
cut through the clutter of ‘look-a-like’ hotel options,
“The focus has to move from the features of brands
to the emotions they conjure up. While product
branding has more impact on the attraction of
customers, it is the service branding that has greater
effect on customer retention.”⁵
INSIDE-OUT OR OUTSIDE-IN?
As participants delved deeper into the subject of
consumer behavior and customer insights, a key
point was made on whether hotels had sufficient
data and consumer research to have a more holistic
view of consumers – how they want to be treated
and engaged, and what they want and need right
now and into the future.
Several group members felt that hotels sometimes
spend too much time looking introspectively when
discussing issues and the challenges affecting our
business. Instead, we should be exploring more
external options and sources for additional market
information, consumer insight and inspiration.
TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT DRIVE BUSINESS
SUCCESS - people with clear objectives,
positive motivation, smart strategies and an
unwavering commitment to succeed do.
More effort should be made to dive deeper to
examine customer information and transactional
data residing within our existing business
information systems. These could yield powerful
insight to drive our decision-making and
precision marketing.
Companies that endeavor to innovate and reinvent
themselves not only improve their chances of
survival in the wake of market disruption and turmoil.
Some even find ways to thrive in transition, while
others just succumb to it.
The introduction of new corporate strategies,
policies and best practices, requires a major shift in
mindset to lead the positive change.
Change is an opportunity to grow. For change
to happen, a great deal of effort, coordination,
motivation and constant education is needed to
keep everyone in sync and aware of how their role
and decisions make a huge impact on the bottom-
line.
Possible next steps towards
solutions:
•	 Shifting more focus and priority to the
frontline - to improve risk management
and customer experience.
•	 Leverage and rationalize your existing
assets - STRATEGY – Structure/Culture,
PEOPLE - Employees/Customers and
PROCESSES/IT SYSTEMS – Data/
Solutions; and know when it pays to
collaborate or partner with suppliers and
when it’s time to modernize or replace
them.
•	 If the only constant is Change, then
efforts towards continuous improvement,
innovation and proactive learning must
also be constant to stay even-keeled.
⁵ “Janelle Barlow, CSP, PhD, President – All Out Performance”, www.alloutperform.com
9
Organizations seeking growth and expansion realize
that, “doing more of the same” will not produce
results of any significant proportion or help them
improve or sustain competitive advantage. Highly
successful organizations actually appeal for change
in an effort to stay fresh and nimble to market
changes and conditions.
A quote by Jack Welch, former CEO of General
Electric (GE) affirms the belief that change is a good
thing and a necessary part of running a successful
business. He said while leading GE: “We want to
be a company that is constantly renewing itself,
shedding the past, adapting to change.”
GE created several notable management systems
and strategic business frameworks that helped
many top organizations address new business
challenges and complexity in the age of globalization,
change management and transformation.
Today, under new leadership, GE is also undergoing
a major transformation as it works to refocus on its
core industrial businesses. This just goes to show
that even the biggest and brightest of businesses
need time to reflect, adapt and innovate existing
business practices to avoid any detrimental pitfalls
that are lurking, and to seize growth opportunities to
be successful.
We cannot predict the future or press the
“pause button” to slow down the rapid pace of
technological change. However, we can choose to
selectively participate in the next wave of business
transformation with other forward-thinking
companies and executives like the participants at
the 2017 Visionary Leaders Roundtable
in Hong Kong.
Visionary Leaders have a ‘Future-State’ point of
view – the ability to identify areas for improvement,
innovation and active learning, to more accurately
chart a pathway to successful outcomes.
CONCLUSION
10
EXECUTIVES SHARING THEIR INSIGHT AND PERSPECTIVE AT THIS ROUNDTABLE
WERE:
•	 Tejveer Singh Bedi, Group Director of Revenue Management, Park Hotel Group
•	 Dr. Jennifer Cronin, President, Wharf Hotels
•	 Siv Forlie, Vice President, Revenue Management, Shangri-La International (Recently
appointed Sr. VP Revenue Management, Genting Hong Kong Ltd)
•	 Michael Hobson, Chief Marketing Officer, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group
•	 Joey Kang, Senior Director Asia Pacific – Operations, Rainmaker Group
•	 James Lee, Director of Finance, Sofitel Singapore City Centre & Chapter President,
Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) Asia
•	 Simon Manning, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Langham Hospitality Group
•	 Philip Schaetz, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Wharf Hotels
•	 Tan Yi Sheng, Senior Vice President, Casino Strategy, Planning and Operations, Genting
Hong Kong
FACILITATORS GUIDING THE DISCUSSION TOPICS WERE:
•	 Patrick Andres, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Rainmaker Group
•	 John Enright, Director, Global Partner Solution Services, Sabre Hospitality Solutions
•	 Dr. Mike Hampton, Dean, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Florida
International University
•	 Christine Toguchi, Managing Director, MacroVision Network Pte. Ltd.
11
Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism
Management has been distinguished as one of the top hospitality programs in
the U.S. More than 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students from across the
United States and around the world choose FIU for its outstanding reputation,
advantageous campus locations, expert faculty, rich curriculum, and fast-track
career opportunities in the international hotel, foodservice and tourism industries.
In August 2006 FIU unveiled the first US School of Hospitality and Tourism in
Tianjin, China. The Marriott Tianjin China Program is FIU's largest international
program, with a capacity for up to 1,000 students. For more information about
Florida International University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management,
visit http://hospitality.fiu.edu/.
Based in Atlanta, with offices in Las Vegas and Singapore, Rainmaker is the
market leader in profit optimization solutions for the hospitality and gaming
industries. Its software and consulting services help hotel, resort and casino hotel
operators secure those customers who will increase their overall profitability. The
first company to incorporate “total guest value” into its revenue optimization
model, Rainmaker leverages cutting-edge research and innovation to offer highly
sophisticated systems that guarantee the highest possible profits. All our solutions
help hotels and casinos better price their rooms to maximize overall profitability,
better determine the value of distribution channels and how to engage different
channels when appropriate, enhance the reservation process, implement a
streamlined sales process, while better controlling marketing and promotional
spend. Our products are used by some of the leading global hotel chains and
casino operators including Omni Hotels, Rosewood Hotels, Movenpick Hotels, Best
Western, Destination Hotels and Resorts, Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos, Luxe
Hotels, Genting’s Resort World, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Trump
Resorts, to name but a few. For five years running, Rainmaker has been ranked on
the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing privately held companies.
www.LetItRain.com
Sabre Hospitality Solutions enables hoteliers to enhance the guest experience,
identify cost savings, and increase revenue. The cloud-based, SaaS solutions
powered by the SynXis Enterprise Platform, used by more than 39,000 hotels in 174
countries, provides unlimited scalability to manage all distribution, operations and
retailing needs across every touch-point of the guest’s journey.
We offer distribution to all channels using the SynXis Central Reservations, the
industry’s most flexible and easy to use reservation and distribution solution. 
Additionally, our solutions include hotel daily operations management through the
SynXis Property Manager, device responsive SynXis Booking Engine and digital
design and marketing services to increase direct bookings and deliver exceptional
guest service right from the booking.
www.sabre.com
Established in 2001, MacroVision Network Pte Ltd is a marketing and event
consultancy company that collaborates with the hospitality & tourism industry and
educators to produce thought leadership forums and learning & networking events
that inspire new thinking, best practices and creative leadership.
Visit www.macrovisionnetwork.com

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Visionary leaders hk insight paper final_021118

  • 1. In Times of Uncertainty and Technological Transformation Adapting & Innovating HOSPITALITY INSIGHTS & PERSPECTIVES: Florida International University Visionary Leaders Roundtable — Hong Kong Top leaders from Asia’s most valued hospitality brands engage in an open dialogue to address critical and thorny issues with high impact on the industry
  • 2. 2 To address these and other pressing issues facing the travel and hospitality industry, Florida International University’s (FIU) Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management (CSHTM) hosted a select group of prominent hospitality thought leaders from Asia at the 5th Annual Visionary Leaders Roundtable (VLR) held at Marco Polo Hong Kong in February 2017. The Visionary Leaders Roundtable was launched in 2013 as a high-level ‘think-tank’ for hospitality and tourism leaders to engage in an open-dialogue on key issues with the highest impact on the industry. Candid discussions - sometimes on provocative and thorny issues - are the mainstay of the program to draw out qualitative insight to move us quicker and closer to viable and sustainable solutions. Special thanks go out to participants, hotel partner and presenting partners, Marco Polo Hotels, Rainmaker Group, Sabre Hospitality Solutions and the Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) for dedicating valuable time and resources to produce the VLR in Hong Kong. FIU actively engages with global leaders and industry experts to stay in step with changing times that are reshaping the travel industry. In doing so, FIU is positioned to lead efforts that contribute towards advancements made in the business of hospitality and tourism. MacroVision Network was privileged to organize and deliver a series of five Visionary Leaders Roundtables on behalf of Florida International University. BACKGROUND: In a year filled with momentous and unprecedented change driven by major shifts in global leadership, growing geo-political tensions and disruptive-digital transformation, business leaders must tread carefully as they prepare to manage through what could be a challenging time for the tourism industry. Two topics chosen for discussion were: Planning for the Unpredictable Moderated by Patrick Andres, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, The Rainmaker Group Future Proofing Your Technology Moderated by John Enright, Director, Global Partner Solution Services, Sabre Hospitality Solutions
  • 3. 3 This insight paper provides key outcomes and opportunities on the issues discussed at the Visionary Leaders Roundtable in Hong Kong. By publishing the candid viewpoints shared by the participants, we hope to encourage further thought and dialogue – and keep the conversation going until we arrive at a solution. INTRODUCTION: Setting the focus for a candid and lively discussion was Mike Hampton, Dean, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at Florida International University. He kicked off with a provocative statement to draw attention to the speed in which the business landscape is transforming, and how hoteliers must keep up and adapt to the pace of change in order to thrive during constantly shifting market demands. “We are in the midst of rapid technological, societal and global environmental change where the things that are familiar to us today and part of our everyday life, could be obsolete or diminish within a few short years. Self-driving cars, holograms, virtual reality, augmented reality, AI and robots in the workplace are already here, and we are just at the starting point of what is to come. The advent of the next generation wireless network (5G) alone will be world-changing in ways we can’t even imagine now.” According to the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance, the vision for 5G is an end-to-end ecosystem to enable a fully mobile and connected society.¹ With 5G, instant information will be just a touch away, and almost everything will be connected. While all this sounds very utopian and intriguing, it can also be worrisome from the standpoint of educational institutions, as well as human resource and divisional managers. They have to produce and manage talent who will be working in this new environment and dealing with these rapid changes. Dean Hampton added, “Since launching the first VLR back in 2013, industry leaders have said that we shouldn’t be focused so much on teaching content any more. Instead, we should concentrate on teaching students how to adapt, how to be entrepreneurial, how to be creative, how to use analytics and how to think differently, so that they can adapt and leverage opportunities as the market dynamics change.” Recent technological transformations are enough to keep most business leaders wondering when the next wave of disruption to their industry will happen. A large-scale deployment of 5G is anticipated for 2019, and once it’s widely available, its impact will be felt across most markets and business sectors including hospitality. ¹ “Next Generation Mobile Networks (NGMN): 5G White Paper”, www.ngmn.org/5g-white-paper/5g-white-paper.html We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them - Albert Einstein
  • 4. 4 Given what we already know and what’s coming down the pipeline, how do we prepare today’s hotel manager and tomorrow’s hospitality leaders for a future that is increasingly uncertain and technologically-driven? THIS WAS AN OVERARCHING THEME FOR DISCUSSION AT THE VISIONARY LEADERS ROUNDTABLE 2017. Managing in times of uncertainty and unprecedented change The past year has been marked by momentous change – from Britain’s decision to leave the European Union and a new era in US politics under new leadership to rising tensions in the Korean Peninsula. Operating in a dynamic, changing and sometimes volatile business environment in the Asia Pacific region is quite the norm for many business leaders in Asia. However, the onset of new industry disruptors, continuing uncertainty of Brexit, and concerns over nuclear testing by North Korea, may give way to a new set of business challenges unlike anything we have experienced before. Ready or not, the world as we know it today could change in an instant, putting a company’s operating model, readiness and continuity plan to the test. While companies can’t always predict the future, the leaders at this roundtable felt that organizations should be more proactive in managing unknown factors and risks, and driving positive change in the following areas: KEY INSIGHTS & SOUND BITES: INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY “Companies need to embrace innovation as one of their core pillars. Innovation produces new products and services, and ultimately delivers greater value to our customers.” This was a comment shared by one participant, which triggered further discussion by the group to suggest that - Continuous Innovation and Transformation need to be brought to the forefront and part of a day-to-day practice within the organization. Organizations that involve their customers, employees, as well as their suppliers and external insight/community panels in the creative-innovation process stand to gain hugely by listening and learning from those who share feedback. They are in a better position to spot emerging trends, build brand awareness and generate new business leads. VALUE OF BROAD-BASED ACTIONABLE CUSTOMER INSIGHT The group touched on the need for contextually rich and broad-based data that can produce actionable insight for the benefit of multiple departments. TOPIC 1: PLANNING FOR THE UNPREDICTABLE WHEN THE UNTHINKABLE HAPPENS: HOW PREPARED WILL YOU BE?
  • 5. 5 Brilliant innovation and creative outcomes happen best when people engage, deliberate and collaborate - which ultimately leads to good change. Customer insight obtained through business analytics is invaluable for tracking customer satisfaction, retention and a myriad of other important business activities. Advancements in IT has made it possible for various business units from hotel operations and guest relations to marketers to identify, profile and engage with customers on a select and real-time basis to proactively service customers, while growing long- term customer value. Having a balance of foresight, hindsight and deep customer insight will give hoteliers the confidence to move forward and pursue new service initiatives and programs, which sets them further afield from the competition. Leverage and Optimize Existing Data and Customer Insight For customer-facing industries like hospitality and tourism, leveraging customer insight to connect with customers’ emotions is essential to provide a distinct level of personalized service that customers yearn for. Using customer insight to craft customer engagement strategies and messages that “hit the mark” is a powerful skill, strategy and growth engine for businesses seeking new and untapped forms of revenue from existing and future customers. Revenue-centric, profit-optimizing technology solutions, data analytics, deep customer understanding and empathy that comes from trained, curious and intuitive employees, can help brands stand out from the countless hotels in the marketplace. However, consolidating data is an ongoing challenge. Hotel transactional data and customer information are typically held in various data repositories and information systems that are often isolated rather than integrated. The executives agreed that while a wealth of useful, proprietary information does exist on their premises, the problem lies with gaining easy access to it in a useable format that can be leveraged upon and actionable. With hotels being so reliant on technology systems to run their business, having collaborative partnerships with solution providers who understand the hotels’ pain-points, and Help - Not Hinder the hotel’s ability to perform at their very best is paramount. LEADERSHIP AND THINKERS WITH TENACITY REQUIRED Managing during times of uncertainty require leaders who are critical thinkers with a big- picture mindset and the ability to swiftly size up situations, re-strategize, formulate and execute plans decisively. All markets are cyclical with highs and lows. Instead of going along for the ride as some do, being vigilant, alert and always on the look-out for major changes in the market can help mitigate risks and even allow opportunities to be seized. After all, just the sheer number of catastrophic world events, such as devastating hurricanes, floods, terrorist and cyber attacks that took place in 2017 alone can unnerve even the most experienced manager. A story shared by one participant pointed to the need to be ‘Always On’, yet flexible in adapting to shifting markets: “In this complex and dynamic business environment, complacency and a lackadaisical style of management will be tested should disaster strike.” This bold and direct message was poignant but true. The participants had this to say on how to manage in times of uncertainty and crisis: “Difficult as it may be, instead of being overwhelmed and fearful of events beyond our control, we should focus on the areas within our sphere of influence where we can effect positive change or mitigate negative outcomes. “Depending on how you look at things, there could be opportunities in the face of adversity for those who confront problems head-on, address the issues and turn things around in their favor.”
  • 6. 6 The high numbers of devastating events occurring globally include extreme weather conditions, large- scale involuntary migration, terrorist attacks and cyber attacks. While some events are simply beyond prediction, those related to technology, the management of technological disruption and cyber-related risks, can and should be better controlled through proactive measures to mitigate risk on all fronts of the organization. It’s hard to determine what impact a crisis may have on your business or predict when the next geopolitical flare-up will occur. With so much uncertainty at play, it’s best to stay focused on your long-term goals and invest more time and energy on controllable areas like optimizing data-driven customer insight, operational efficiencies, product & service innovation and people development. Together, they can strengthen the organization and produce more enduring value for your stakeholders and your brand. Another salient point made during this group discussion was the subject of Crisis Management. While many hotels have some form of crisis communication system or plan to respond to and contain any negative outcomes following a crisis or tragic event, the group highlighted the need for a comprehensive crisis management program with more rigor to account for different categories of crisis management. In January 2017, the World Economic Forum (WEF) released its 12th annual Global Risks Report for 2017². This report highlighted the most significant long-term risks worldwide, based on perspectives from nearly 750 experts and global decision- makers. The WEF report defined a “global risk” as an uncertain event or condition that, if it occurs, can cause significant negative impact for several countries or industries within the next 10 years. Following the report’s release, of the possible crisis- like events that could occur in the five key areas it noted - Economic, Environmental, Geopolitical, Societal and Technological - several “unthinkable” events have already taken place recently. INTERESTING NOTE: The word ‘crisis’ in the Chinese language is ‘wei ji’ (危机), which can be translated to mean ‘wei… danger or adversity’ and ‘ji … opportunity”) ² “The Global Risk Report 2017 – 12th Edition”, World Economic Forum, www.weforum.org/reports/the-global-risks-report-2017
  • 7. 7 Transformative Technologies The timing of VLR Hong Kong happened to coincide with the release of the ‘Emerging Technology in Travel’ 2017 Report by Sabre Labs³. The report focuses on three megatrends poised to impact travel over the next decade, and offers fascinating insight and specific actions that travel agencies, hoteliers and airlines should consider as they navigate this rapidly changing technology landscape. The three megatrends identified in this report - Connected Intelligence, Conversational Interfaces and Digital Realities helped spur a lively group discussion on the potential to enhance customer engagement and elevate guest experience to the next level. When asked how well the industry in general is doing to harness the value of emerging technologies to streamline operations and enhance guest experience, this group said it’s still very much “work in progress” and cited several challenging reasons for it. KEY INSIGHTS & SOUND BITES: TEST AND MEASURE THE IMPACT OF NEW TECHNOLOGY The rapid development of new and innovative technology is making it difficult for hoteliers to keep up. Evaluating and conducting usability studies and beta tests to determine a good match before deployment is extremely resource-intensive and time-consuming. The participants suggested that this activity might be better performed through a collaborative research partnership between universities, hospitality companies and solution providers - where real-world applications can be tested and prototyped. A 2017 Report published by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) emphasized the value of being true partners with customers – There’s A BIG OPPORTUNITY out there for digital suppliers to accelerate customers’ transformation agenda with integrated, ready-to-use digital solutions.⁴ Other related challenges raised by the group - especially for hotel chains - involved project funding, integration of highly fragmented and legacy IT systems and system-wide deployment issues. BALANCING HIGH-TECH WITH HIGH-TOUCH With technology playing a strategic role in driving operational efficiency, customer engagement and revenue growth, we may occasionally forget that the ‘Business of Hospitality’ is all about people interfacing with people – and it’s the organization’s human capital that is the real value driver for creating superior and memorable customer experiences. TOPIC 2: FUTURE PROOFING YOUR TECHNOLOGY Do you remember the days of the telex, eight track players and cassette tapes? Soon, we’ll witness the next big tech revolution that will have our industry grappling to adapt to a changing operating environment where going keyless, cashless and seamless will be more the norm than a nice-to-have. ³ “Emerging Technology in Travel: 2017 Report”, Sabre Labs, www.sabre.com/labs/emergingtech/ ⁴ “How Can Digital Suppliers Accelerate Customers’ Transformations?”, The Boston Consulting Group, March 2017, www.bcg.com/publications/2017/telecommunications-technology-industries-how-can-digital-suppliers-accelerate-customers-transformations.aspx
  • 8. 8 Alongside technology, enabling continuous learning and leadership development is critical in equipping and fueling employees with new idea streams to drive growth in times of rapid change and digital transformation. The same 2017 BCG Report also highlighted “the importance of Digital Skills as performance enablers”. The report emphasized how essential it is that companies assign high importance to digital transformation accelerators such as in talent acquisition is essential. CUSTOMER INSIGHT TO ENLIVEN CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Today, technology is a strategic enabler to drive efficiency, customer engagement and business growth. However, according to Dr Janelle Barlow - noted trainer, entrepreneur and best-selling author of business books on branded customer service - to cut through the clutter of ‘look-a-like’ hotel options, “The focus has to move from the features of brands to the emotions they conjure up. While product branding has more impact on the attraction of customers, it is the service branding that has greater effect on customer retention.”⁵ INSIDE-OUT OR OUTSIDE-IN? As participants delved deeper into the subject of consumer behavior and customer insights, a key point was made on whether hotels had sufficient data and consumer research to have a more holistic view of consumers – how they want to be treated and engaged, and what they want and need right now and into the future. Several group members felt that hotels sometimes spend too much time looking introspectively when discussing issues and the challenges affecting our business. Instead, we should be exploring more external options and sources for additional market information, consumer insight and inspiration. TECHNOLOGY DOES NOT DRIVE BUSINESS SUCCESS - people with clear objectives, positive motivation, smart strategies and an unwavering commitment to succeed do. More effort should be made to dive deeper to examine customer information and transactional data residing within our existing business information systems. These could yield powerful insight to drive our decision-making and precision marketing. Companies that endeavor to innovate and reinvent themselves not only improve their chances of survival in the wake of market disruption and turmoil. Some even find ways to thrive in transition, while others just succumb to it. The introduction of new corporate strategies, policies and best practices, requires a major shift in mindset to lead the positive change. Change is an opportunity to grow. For change to happen, a great deal of effort, coordination, motivation and constant education is needed to keep everyone in sync and aware of how their role and decisions make a huge impact on the bottom- line. Possible next steps towards solutions: • Shifting more focus and priority to the frontline - to improve risk management and customer experience. • Leverage and rationalize your existing assets - STRATEGY – Structure/Culture, PEOPLE - Employees/Customers and PROCESSES/IT SYSTEMS – Data/ Solutions; and know when it pays to collaborate or partner with suppliers and when it’s time to modernize or replace them. • If the only constant is Change, then efforts towards continuous improvement, innovation and proactive learning must also be constant to stay even-keeled. ⁵ “Janelle Barlow, CSP, PhD, President – All Out Performance”, www.alloutperform.com
  • 9. 9 Organizations seeking growth and expansion realize that, “doing more of the same” will not produce results of any significant proportion or help them improve or sustain competitive advantage. Highly successful organizations actually appeal for change in an effort to stay fresh and nimble to market changes and conditions. A quote by Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric (GE) affirms the belief that change is a good thing and a necessary part of running a successful business. He said while leading GE: “We want to be a company that is constantly renewing itself, shedding the past, adapting to change.” GE created several notable management systems and strategic business frameworks that helped many top organizations address new business challenges and complexity in the age of globalization, change management and transformation. Today, under new leadership, GE is also undergoing a major transformation as it works to refocus on its core industrial businesses. This just goes to show that even the biggest and brightest of businesses need time to reflect, adapt and innovate existing business practices to avoid any detrimental pitfalls that are lurking, and to seize growth opportunities to be successful. We cannot predict the future or press the “pause button” to slow down the rapid pace of technological change. However, we can choose to selectively participate in the next wave of business transformation with other forward-thinking companies and executives like the participants at the 2017 Visionary Leaders Roundtable in Hong Kong. Visionary Leaders have a ‘Future-State’ point of view – the ability to identify areas for improvement, innovation and active learning, to more accurately chart a pathway to successful outcomes. CONCLUSION
  • 10. 10 EXECUTIVES SHARING THEIR INSIGHT AND PERSPECTIVE AT THIS ROUNDTABLE WERE: • Tejveer Singh Bedi, Group Director of Revenue Management, Park Hotel Group • Dr. Jennifer Cronin, President, Wharf Hotels • Siv Forlie, Vice President, Revenue Management, Shangri-La International (Recently appointed Sr. VP Revenue Management, Genting Hong Kong Ltd) • Michael Hobson, Chief Marketing Officer, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group • Joey Kang, Senior Director Asia Pacific – Operations, Rainmaker Group • James Lee, Director of Finance, Sofitel Singapore City Centre & Chapter President, Hospitality Financial and Technology Professionals (HFTP) Asia • Simon Manning, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer, Langham Hospitality Group • Philip Schaetz, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, Wharf Hotels • Tan Yi Sheng, Senior Vice President, Casino Strategy, Planning and Operations, Genting Hong Kong FACILITATORS GUIDING THE DISCUSSION TOPICS WERE: • Patrick Andres, Managing Director, Asia Pacific, Rainmaker Group • John Enright, Director, Global Partner Solution Services, Sabre Hospitality Solutions • Dr. Mike Hampton, Dean, Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management, Florida International University • Christine Toguchi, Managing Director, MacroVision Network Pte. Ltd.
  • 11. 11 Florida International University's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management has been distinguished as one of the top hospitality programs in the U.S. More than 2,500 undergraduate and graduate students from across the United States and around the world choose FIU for its outstanding reputation, advantageous campus locations, expert faculty, rich curriculum, and fast-track career opportunities in the international hotel, foodservice and tourism industries. In August 2006 FIU unveiled the first US School of Hospitality and Tourism in Tianjin, China. The Marriott Tianjin China Program is FIU's largest international program, with a capacity for up to 1,000 students. For more information about Florida International University's School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, visit http://hospitality.fiu.edu/. Based in Atlanta, with offices in Las Vegas and Singapore, Rainmaker is the market leader in profit optimization solutions for the hospitality and gaming industries. Its software and consulting services help hotel, resort and casino hotel operators secure those customers who will increase their overall profitability. The first company to incorporate “total guest value” into its revenue optimization model, Rainmaker leverages cutting-edge research and innovation to offer highly sophisticated systems that guarantee the highest possible profits. All our solutions help hotels and casinos better price their rooms to maximize overall profitability, better determine the value of distribution channels and how to engage different channels when appropriate, enhance the reservation process, implement a streamlined sales process, while better controlling marketing and promotional spend. Our products are used by some of the leading global hotel chains and casino operators including Omni Hotels, Rosewood Hotels, Movenpick Hotels, Best Western, Destination Hotels and Resorts, Hard Rock Hotels and Casinos, Luxe Hotels, Genting’s Resort World, MGM Resorts, Caesars Entertainment and Trump Resorts, to name but a few. For five years running, Rainmaker has been ranked on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing privately held companies. www.LetItRain.com Sabre Hospitality Solutions enables hoteliers to enhance the guest experience, identify cost savings, and increase revenue. The cloud-based, SaaS solutions powered by the SynXis Enterprise Platform, used by more than 39,000 hotels in 174 countries, provides unlimited scalability to manage all distribution, operations and retailing needs across every touch-point of the guest’s journey. We offer distribution to all channels using the SynXis Central Reservations, the industry’s most flexible and easy to use reservation and distribution solution.  Additionally, our solutions include hotel daily operations management through the SynXis Property Manager, device responsive SynXis Booking Engine and digital design and marketing services to increase direct bookings and deliver exceptional guest service right from the booking. www.sabre.com Established in 2001, MacroVision Network Pte Ltd is a marketing and event consultancy company that collaborates with the hospitality & tourism industry and educators to produce thought leadership forums and learning & networking events that inspire new thinking, best practices and creative leadership. Visit www.macrovisionnetwork.com