eHotelier VP Matthew Stephens: Hospitality industry safely back on track

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Only last month HSMAI Europe entered into a partnership with the world-renowned travel and hospitality news outlet eHotelier, in order to support professional development within the industry.

“We are delighted to work with eHotelier, one of the leading web portals for hoteliers, hospitality, catering and culinary professionals, for the benefits for our members,” Ingunn Hofseth, CEO and President of HSMAI Europe, said at the time – and with good reason.

eHotelier is the “Global Portal for Hospitality Professionals” serving over 70,000 members from 196 countries. In addition to the daily newsletter, the eHotelier Academy provides online education including over 130 courses, 15 professional certifications as well as an extensive library of professional reference books, white papers and digital publications. The eHotelier Jobs channel, Event, Education, Supplier and Association directories provide a valuable B2B platform connecting buyers and sellers globally. Remain ahead of industry trends, collaborate with fellow professionals from around the world and gain access to a vast array of online learning materials.

Headquartered in Australia’s New South Wales, our below interview with eHotelier’s VP Matthew Stephens has been carried out via email.

Q: Launched in the middle of a time usually referred to as the dot-com era, eHotelier’s continued existence wasn’t a given, once the bubble burst, only a year after its launch. Yet eHotelier has since managed to amass more than 70,000 members in nearly 200 countries across the world. What, in your opinion, is the key to the success?

A: eHotelier has published a free daily industry newsletter since 1999. Our editorial team focus on publishing articles of value to our members, in particular through the Insights channel. Our editorial associates provide unique views from around the globe, covering all aspects of hospitality ownership, management and operations.

Last year we began a new journey reinventing eHotelier from a valued source of industry news, to the global portal for hospitality professionals. News and insights remain a valued channel of the eHotelier portal, however eHotelier now also provides professional career development through online learning including over 130 courses, a library of professional resources including Books, eBooks and white papers. We will soon be adding video and webinar content as well as executive development opportunities.

For some time social media has provided a new and valuable way of connecting and remaining in touch with industry trends. We believe that business is conducted between people, requiring trust, respect and communication. While making the initial connection is possible through technology, we feel that personal contact is becoming increasingly important in building strong business relationships. eHotelier are committed to supporting hospitality industry events globally and now providing a central locations for online registration for members.

Q: Most of the world’s hospitality industry was severely hit by last decade’s international credit crunch, but somehow managed to pull through. How would you assess the current financial situation’s impact on the industry?

A: From our perspective many geographic regions have now fully recovered to equal if not more profitable economic environments than prior to the GFC. It would appear that the unsettled conditions forced a rationalisation within many sectors, and required many business to reassess the efficiencies of their operations in order to remain profitable. Those businesses that have retained the operational efficiencies will be most resilient to any current and future economic pressures.

Q: In what way may institutions such as your own contribute to further and develop the industry’s viability?

A: eHotelier provides a portal for collaboration between industry professionals as well as delivering professional development. In our opinion professional development is key at all levels of industry. We support hotel schools and their engagement with industry through our partnership with EUHOFA, ensuring our young professionals are retained in the industry and continue their career development.

We support the development of aspiring leaders through online continued eduction and collaboration, as well as bringing together industry experts to discuss the challenges. Our partnerships with industry events around the world supports the ongoing educating and collaboration of professionals on innovations, trends and insights.

We value our partnerships with expert organisations including HSMAI, Le Clefs d’Or, SKAL and HOSPA, bringing the experts in these specialist areas together to share their wisdom for the betterment of the industry.

Q: Could you please share some information on the bumpy road’s impact on eHotelier’s own development, and how you have met the challenges, as they arose?

A: In business we constantly face changes through the economy, technology innovations, changes in legislation and social changes. eHotelier has remained faithful to delivering valuable insights to the industry’s professionals and now entering a new phase aimed at providing professional career development at all levels in the industry, through partnerships and collaboration.

Q: Where do you see the hospitality industry — and eHotelier — in ten year’s time?

A: There is no doubt over the next 10 years we will see change in global and local economies, technology, political environments and social changes. We believe that collaboration and cooperation with those who we may once have considered competitors will be important to success. We see hotel companies cooperating to maximise efficiencies and leverage economies of scale as well as in providing additional services to customers. Disruptive innovations may continue to provide new offers to customers and those who can navigate these changing environments while remaining true to their values will continue to succeed.

Photo: Matthew Stephens, Vice President, eHotelier.com (photograph from eHotelier).