As we lead up to HITEC 2014 in June, HFTP Connect will be talking to various hospitality professionals about specific areas of the industry through the Ask the Experts column.
Cindy Estis Green is the CEO and co-founder of Kalibri Labs, LLC., with a career spanning thirty-five years in the hospitality industry. Green spent 12 years as managing partner of The Estis Group providing consulting to hospitality organizations. Co-author of the 2012 Distribution Channel Analysis: A Guide for Hotels, Estis Green has been inducted into the prestigious HFTP Hospitality Technology Hall of Fame. She is also a frequent speaker at hospitality industry conferences and is currently a member of the HITEC Advisory Council.
1. How is your specialty changing? How will it evolve over the next two to five years?
The area of distribution and digital has changed dramatically and continues to do so as new vendors enter the space and as consumers adopt new technology as part of the travel experience whether it’s shopping, buying, part of the stay or sharing about a stay. The pace of change is rapid now and not slowing down. This will continue to add many more options for the consumers and create change in the way hotel brands provide services to their hotels.
The increased use of new devices from today’s mobile to tomorrow’s wearable — from today’s bitcoin to tomorrow’s e-wallets — this reflection of changing consumer behavior will change the way hotels market to consumers and the way they provide on-site services to them. If it’s done by third parties that are offering the same type of service to many hotels, it will challenge the brands to differentiate themselves in new ways.
2. There are numerous ways that consumers can secure travel. What kind of challenges and opportunities regarding distribution do hotels face with there being so many platforms?
There are continual demands on hotel technology to support so many new and changing platforms. There are also rising costs associated with these options since many new vendors are charging the hotels to send the consumers their way after passing through their sites. The hotels have to pay for the technical connections, pay many traditional third parties, many new ones and brands (if they are part of a chain) for acquiring their customers. This adds up to a sharp uptick in acquisition costs that has risen at twice the rate of revenue growth since 2009.
In terms of opportunity, there are so many new players, each hotel and each brand may have more options to carve out their own market position that will give them a unique advantage. It also should create a more competitive marketplace which may bring costs down eventually if the hotels manage their internal costs well.
3. As a marketing professional what sessions are you looking forward to at HITEC?
I am eager to hear the sessions on digital, big data and distribution.