August 14, 2018
On June 19–20, 2018, 623 hospitality professionals gathered in Houston for education and insights into revenue management at the Hospitality Sales and Marketing Association International’s (HSMAI) Revenue Optimization Conference (ROC) Americas.
HSMAI’s ROC drew corporate revenue management executives from 110 unique hotel companies and 48 hotel properties. The two-day conference featured inspiring and engaging general sessions led by industry thought leaders, interactive breakout sessions, and countless opportunities to connect face to face with 42 product and service providers at the partner showcase.
ROC officially kicked off with an opening general session emceed by Dr. Kelly McGuire, SVP of revenue management for MGM Resorts International. Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist for the Economic Outlook Group, shared his geopolitical and economic forecast for the coming year. He cited tariffs imposed recently by the United States, increased cyberattacks, and the high likelihood of a recession in the near future as some of the biggest concerns for the travel industry. Baumohl urged hoteliers to be proactive about pricing, and to have game plans in place for plausible unfavorable scenarios such as company-wide technical disruptions and a decreased number of international travelers to the United States.
The opening general session also featured a “Think Like an Owner” panel, in which asset managers and owner representatives shared their perspectives on how revenue management professionals can increase their “asset management acumen.” One takeaway was that revenue managers increase the likelihood of successful relationships with owners, GMs, and colleagues in other departments if they are proactive/act like leaders, communicate clearly and concisely, understand the business mix, and have a good handle on digital marketing.
Another highlight of ROC was the two-part interactive session, “No Bull: The Great Debate,” in which presenters debated two timely questions for the hospitality industry: “With advances in AI and machine learning, what is the future for humans in revenue management?” and “Do loyalty programs still have a place with today's consumers, or is loyalty is dead, requiring us to find another way forward?” Live polling and candid comments from audience members made for engaging discussions of both subjects.
Throughout the conference, a host of breakout sessions had interactive elements, such as polling and rapid-fire brainstorming sessions. Sessions delved into key issues for hotels and revenue optimization leaders, including personalizing paid advertising, leveraging social media, harnessing metrics and analytics, and maximizing non-room revenue opportunities. Recurring messages throughout the breakouts included the following: be willing to stop doing things if they no longer bring the same value; and, be intentional about communications across revenue, marketing, and sales, departments so that teams can work together, not in silos.