The past 14th of November, Spaces Madrid Río hosted the Hospitality Design Conference (HDC). An event organized by 3g Smart Group that brought together over ten sector experts and leaders to debate over the transformation currently affecting the hotel industry, through technology, people and new spaces.
For , President of 3g Smart Group, “No sector escapes the changes brought about by innovation, and even less so the hotel sector. It is an industry which has reached a time of maturity and sustained growth during the last years and cannot ignore the necessary transformation and new scenarios and players which appear in the real world for the sector, that which we have named “new normality”. We need to head off from a clean slate, and not try to tune up the pre-existing”.
The following panel of experts participated: , co-founder of The Innova Room (and joint organizers of the event with 3g Samrt Group), , CEO and founder of Smartvel, , CPO of NH Hoteles, , Director of Strategy for Paradores, , CEO of Parangon Partners, , President of Axel Hotels, , CEO of B&B Hotels Spain & Portugal, Pablo Claver, expert in Happiness at Work, , CEO and founder of HR Mindset, , CEO of Ngloba Strategy and , CEO and founder of Future For Work. Leaving interesting conclusions which are herewith outlined.
The common denominator for the event was the importance of finding sense and purpose for the transformation, and that to be able to transform what surrounds us, we firstly need to transform ourselves as leaders. Your transformation needs to be focused in the context of what you are and want to be. Generalities are of no use in this and there is no single formula, but many, enabling the possibility of differentiating and choosing. For instance, Paradores stand out with their historic and cultural heritage, whilst Axel Hotels do so from their affinity with the LGTB community through their “heterofriendly”concept.
The disruption concept and change commitment were discussed, to be agile and fearless, assuming the possibility of errors along the way. pointed out that nowadays, it is not the big fish that eats the small, but the quick that eats the slow. A view shared by who warned that the perfect storm has already begun in the hospitality business, so fear of threats has to be dispelled.
The importance of people was analysed, of employees and staff as much as client and guests. Pablo Claver as a happiness-at-work expert called attention to the importance of reaching happiness and well-being of staff working in the hospitality industry, as this reflects directly on the guests. In a happy work environment, productivity increases by 30%, talent retention increases by 40% and sick leaves decrease in 66%. A happy team = better results = happy clients. also shared that view: It is important to place the employee in the centre. If an employee does not understand the purpose of its firm or of the change required, it cannot join in to it. A hotel needs to transmit a dream, a story, …if staff do not share that same dream, the guests will suffer from it. The storytelling must touch the heart.
from The Innova Room radiographed the transformation process being experienced by the industry from the prism of people, technology and spaces, and how creative mutations generate new species.
New user types and tendencies appear that break the traditional categories and force the industry to adapt its services. The new guests are digital nomads (knowmads) in constant movement, for whom the boundary between work and social life is virtually unappreciable, in a bleisure travel style. These people are in continuous contact with the hospitality industry and desire a healthy lifestyle and relationship with others, including environmental awareness and an interior personal balance.
In relation to spaces, understood from a point of view of design and user experience, we are facing a brutal change that affects all scopes. Monica presented a number of tendencies that are a current reality and arise from hybrids of the “co-everything”: co-work, co-live, … ; Already some hotels are no-desk, where the traditional barrier is eliminated and the reception area may become a bar counter or a co-working space, or simply, a smartphone or handheld device; the receptionist does not have to be standing in wait but can approach, chat with and advise the guest in a far more informal environment. The concept of mixed-use of buildings appears: to sleep in offices, hotels within shopping or leisure centres; 24 h. flexible multi-use spaces or response on demand such as Pop-up hotels; immersive experiences such as taking away the kitchen walls to offer the guest a unique experience. In terms of spaces as locations, there is an evidence of the historic value of buildings as part of the storytelling soul of a hotel, and a tendency strongly emerges, to participate in the life of the city as social nodes or a “third place”. A new turn of the wheel in the history of evolution from mutations.
Technology deserves its own chapter. The trends towards communication platforms and the collaborative economy have a great impact on the industry, establishing direct contact between offer and demand and thereby cutting out the intermediary to offer the best option (as an instance, micro-stays for various uses). Beacons allow interaction with mobile guests to present them with personalized offers, check-in or check-out without intervention by personnel and also generate a huge amount of information on internal movements by clients and staff. And in the field of artificial intelligence, where there already are hotels fully operated by robots, the stage is set for the future, where a new relationship context between people and machines needs to be established. Even in terms of ethics (or specially so).
After this wide spectrum of trends contemplated in the future of the hospitality industry, the time arrived for the panel of CEOs to explain how to lead the transformation of hotel organizations, from the basic premise that no leadership towards transformation can be established if from above there is fear to face the challenge or there is no faith in the endeavour. Transformations are born at the top of the organizations but are driven from below, hence the importance of evangelizing the decision-makers and captivating the whole team. The keys to transformation can be summarized as follows:
- To determine the sense and purpose of the transformation. What is the essence of each?, Where are we going to and where do we want to go?
- To achieve a sustained commitment from the staff.
- Differentiation allows a better knowledge of your client and enables a focus on what you have to offer. In the case of Paradores, to preserve the historic heritage and turn it into a touristic attraction; Axel Hotels being in tune with the LGBT community; B&B as a cost effective value proposal in the centre of the city, and NH with its solid brand value and guest experiences.
- To overcome the challenges of lack of time and planning, and to lose the fear of risk and decision making. Risk is intrinsic to success.
- Amongst the concerns of the leaders, the speed of change and to achieve that the concept and culture of the firm is not blurred in the process.
- Facing an oligopolist market place, where the big players are growing even bigger, small businesses arise that lack resources but have and play on agility.
- To improve the guest and client experience, to gain customer loyalty and establish a bond with them.
HDC Madrid is part of the Smart Conversations, a programme of 27 non-profit international events, organized since 2006 by 3g Smart Group in 14 cities around the world, setting trends in the sectoral debates towards transformation.