A conference was held in Oslo this week, focusing on Special Interest Groups and Revenue management, also featuring two sessions on Travel Internet marketing, Resort marketing, an environmentally sustainable hospitality industry, and theme-based adventures. The conference drew an interested crowd from all parts of the industry, eager to set up SIG’s, initially within the fields of Revenue management and Travel Internet marketing.
“I’m thrilled that HSMAI Global’s president and CEO Bob Gilbert took the time to attend, both in Oslo and Stockholm,” HSMAI Europe’s president and CEO Ingunn Hofseth says, adding “There’s little doubt that Revenue management SIG’s are in demand, as we saw in Oslo on Wednesday”.
Huge U.S. success
Marion Hughes, vice president for business development in Intelligent Hotels, gave a lecture – and supervised workshops – on revenue management, supported by HSMAI Global’s president and CEO Robert A. Gilbert, who shared the American experiences with an interested audience, focusing on the financial situation and the importance of establishing acceptance for the ROI (return on investment) pertaining to marketing expenses. He also pointed out that revenue management and travel Internet marketing are closely linked, and, as such, quite often overlap, in terms of special interests and their groups.
“The SIG concept has been very well received in the Americas region,” Bob told us. “This has been a huge value proposition, with somewhere in-between 700 and 1200 members per special interest group, and you know, HSMAI members are free to opt into all SIG’s for free. Turns out that lots of people want to learn, and we’re only happy to comply”.
“Crucial to the SIG concept are the various groups’ advisory boards, consisting of leading professionals within their respective fields of expertise,” he says. “And the user evaluations have been nothing short of fantastic. We have sponsored whitepapers, strategy conferences, web-based toolboxes and work on numerous platforms, both through the Internet and in more conventional settings”.
Much to gain on unfiltered customer response
When it comes to social media and opening up for member and user dialogue, the HSMAI boss is surprisingly open-minded:
“From a hospitality perspective, I think we’ve only benefited from the unfiltered feedback these new media offer. Whether a company decides to act on that response or not, is entirely up to them, but it provides a whole new set of opportunities. Also, it’s changed the paradigm of marketing completely, although, granted you have to give up some of the control, but gain so much more,” he says.
“We shouldn’t fear criticism. Criticism is good. And you know, sometimes, issuing an apology, if criticism is due, can earn you lots and lots of customer trust”.
When asked about the chief challenges facing the hospitality industry today, Mr. Gilbert replies unhesitatingly:
“The threat of new standards on all levels of travel and hospitality, especially in the corporate market. Travel and conference expenditures have been kept at a minimum throughout the global recession. We see this in all regions of the world, and I think we need to address that challenge, the sooner the better. If the industry allows that level to establish itself as the new normal, we’re all in deep trouble,” the global president and CEO concludes.
European Revenue Management Executive certification on the way
The author of this article also gave a lecture on travel Internet marketing, for an equally interested audience, eager to make use of the opportunities offered through blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube – and the plethora of social media outlets available today.
“I’m happy to say that a special interest group for travel Internet marketing is en route already,” says Ingunn Hofseth, who, by the way, has become quite the Internet socialite herself over the last couple of months. “But that’s not all,” she says. “In a matter of weeks we’re ready to launch a European certification programme on Revenue management, entitling the graduates to use the CRME (Certified Revenue Management Executive) designation, which has proved a great success in the Americas region, and which fills a void in the European hospitality industry’s follow-up studies,” Ingunn concludes, promising more news on the matter in two weeks.
Top photo: Norwegian HSMAI members from all parts of the industry listened carefully as Marion Hughes and Bob Gilberts shared their experiences with Revenue management in Oslo on Wednesday 18 November. Mobile photo: Jarle Petterson