This year’s HSMA slogan was “united skills of hospitality.” After over two years of a global pandemic, participants were encouraged to share experiences and inspire each other in a wide range of industry topics like pricing strategy, HR, brand building, sustainability, and many areas of tech like distribution, operations, marketing, and sales. Over 300 hoteliers attended HSMA 2022 in person with many more online.
What I always find especially valuable at HSMA is being able to discuss topics just shared on stage with other hoteliers and vendors and understand how that strategy fits each business model.
Highlights from HSMA 2022
My highlights of this year’s HSMA event included the following.
Investor Focus on Resort & Leisure
According to Wilko K. Weber, Partner of SHS Swiss Hospitality Solutions AG, there’s a strong focus from investors on the resort and leisure segments of hospitality. A panel discussion with Wilko K. Weber (SHS), Angelika Viebahn (Althoff / Ameron Hotels), and Monika Sand (Lindner Hotels) had the takeaway message that hoteliers shouldn’t sell cheap but don’t dare raise prices. Timing is right due to the changing of traveler behavior (as in, travelers value time off now more than ever) and corporates don’t have as much buying power.
Using Tech to Solve Labor Shortage Problems
Another interesting topic was how hotels can use digitalization to solve staff shortages. Martin Stockburger (Koncept Hotels) explained how his journey to transform his business into a complete digital environment enabled him to better pay staff and therefore improve employee satisfaction, loyalty, and performance. Digitalization opened up the opportunity for his hotel to access an undervalued group of potential employees: mothers!
Data Protection is Crucial
Our very own Michael Heinze, Chief Architect of the Shiji Group attended a panel discussion with Peter Hense & Kristin van Damsen (both lawyers at Spirit Legal, Germany’s best-known hospitality law firm) about why data protection is so important for all hoteliers, what consequences hotels face in the event of violations and, most importantly, how a hotelier should practically keep their data secure.
Pilot Program for Business Customer Digital ID
Another highlight was the session with Christian Meissner (Deutsche Hospitality) who gave an update on their joint pilot program for a digital identity for business customers to check-in digitally at hotels including Motel One, Lindner Hotels, and Steigenberger Hotel, in collaboration with The German Government, Deutsche Bahn and Siemens. This project, unfortunately, is on hold as the government currently sees no major benefits in it. Meissner, however, underlined the major benefits throughout the guest journey, if this or any other project for a European digital identity would be realized in the future.
Both our industry and the world, on the whole, have changed dramatically in the past two years. Leisure travelers book differently and spend more – Wilko Weber (SHS) noted that people today spend 500 Swiss francs for a small-size single room with a parking lot view – and do not complain! At the same time, guest expectations have risen as well – digital check-in and out, room service ordering via your own smartphone, and exceptional service not only on-site but also digitally isn’t a projection of the future anymore. It is here to stay and tech companies specialized in hospitality need to make sure to cooperate and build environments where data can seamlessly flow between their individual solutions to support the new era of (digital) hospitality and guest services. As such, the slogan of HSMA 2022, “united skills of hospitality,” could not have been more apt.