Hotelier Thought Leader Series: The Shape of the Industry in 2019
Posted by mdo on December 11, 2018 in Thought Leader Series
An Interview with Chris Green, CCO, Chesapeake Hospitality
As consumer needs and wants continue to evolve, businesses must adapt and keep up with the latest trends and changes in their industries. We sat down with Chris Green, Chief Commercial Officer of Chesapeake Hospitality, to discuss what 2019 has in store for hospitality companies and identify areas that will have the greatest impact for hoteliers come 2019. It came down to two key themes: sustainability and predictive analytics. Keep reading for Green’s perspective.
myDigitalOffice: Flash Gordon’s super power is Super Speed, the Incredible Hulk has Super Strength. What’s your super power and the secret behind it?
Chris Green (CG): I like to think that I have two super powers that help me in my role.
The first is Highly Active Emotional Intelligence, which is the ability to sense and adapt to changing interpersonal interactions quickly so as to best relate with anyone I have the pleasure of interacting with. This has helped me to thrive in hospitality, where every time you are with a guest or associate, there are parameters or needs surrounding the interaction.
The second Super Power (especially if you ask my team) is some strange “Good Will Hunting”-Type Math Ability. I really wasn’t a great student when it comes to textbook math, but somehow I’m able to glance quickly at a couple documents – or even presentations on screen – and calculate outputs with spooky accuracy. This super power has helped me to analyze and act on complex data at a extremely quick pace.
myDigitalOffice: Speaking of “Good Will Hunting,” you wrote “Hotel companies do well by doing good” in reference to charitable giving and company volunteerism. Applying the same concept to green business, why is sustainability a critical area to develop right now in hospitality, and how are some companies winning at this?
CG: First, it’s the right thing to do. Chesapeake has been operating for 61 years on three core values that demand doing what’s right – Honesty, Integrity and Humility. These core values mandate that when faced with a situation, we pursue what’s best. Further, when you consider the magnitude of our footprint and the potential for environmental impact that hotels have, we must be vigilant when pursuing sustainable initiatives. To me, winning looks like a comprehensive strategy that touches all of our potential impact areas: consumables, energy usage, waste, process, etc. All of the major brands have taken aggressive stances on sustainability with good success. We model our efforts across the enterprise after many of the components of Hilton’s “Lightstay” programs.
myDigitalOffice: Measurement and corrective action are the tenets of that particular program, and there are so many variables to weigh when developing and adopting a sustainability strategy. In a similar light, what do you think is the best way for hotels to assess whether a new technology should be adopted? How can it know whether it will provide real value, rather than be just a novel gimmick?
CG: This is a very interesting topic. Technology becomes outdated or obsolete so quickly as the innovation curve turns straight up. The way I evaluate the need to adopt a technology solution is less about if it is a want and more about if it solves a significant pain point for our operations or guests. The solutions that have seen the greatest success in my opinion are focused on improving the speed, quality, efficiency or ease of use for any number of pain points in our business.
myDigitalOffice: What are some of the most impactful ways in which technology is being used in hospitality today?
CG: Text communication with guests, real time operating statistic platforms, data farming to deliver operational strategy or actions, AI forecasting, seamless entertainment across multiple devices, mobile check-in are just a few. I love to look at and experience new technology, but it is easy to get distracted by the shiny new toy. I believe that bridging the gap between the hard set standards in hospitality and new technology is what separates the winners and losers. For example, the hotel in China that has robots at check in is seen as cutting edge but the feedback has been mixed. Travelers still expect personal hospitality – at least for now. On the other hand, text communication with guests is a huge hit – this is the way people communicate and using AI platforms to answer 90% of all questions has reduced demand on customer service agents thereby increasing their ability to interact and deliver hospitality. That’s a win! As far as my company, the use of data aggregation and analysis along with very cool future demand analytics has changed our ability to drive results. These are very exciting times!
myDigitalOffice: What is the single biggest trend hoteliers should watch for and, perhaps, leverage, in 2019?
CG: When I think about what you have to be doing going forward, it’s definitely AI-based data usage. There are a number of companies that have built solid platforms for predictive outcomes that help drive marketing spend, tactical sales efforts, guest demand volumes, channel performance etc. The integration of voice technology to this process will accelerate the analysis and performance trends. I expect that in the very near future I will be able to converse verbally with my property performance system to analyze specific tactical actions or operational changes and see real time potential outcomes. Imagine being able to ask your performance engine “Based on our forecast, I would like to drive more Sunday night stays at my property. What is the optimal placement of marketing dollars to deliver this outcome and what channels will have the most effective ROI?” I can’t wait!
To learn more about Chesapeake Hospitality, visit chesapeakehospitality.com.