AI for productivity, hyper-personalised HR, responsible travel, and Total Revenue Management culture pinpointed as industry game-changers by association’s members.

After the week we spent in London earlier this month, we have our arsenal filled with insights and ideas for what to include on the HSMAI Europe agenda in many cities throughout the year. We also had our first board of directors meeting of the year, which parts of the meeting were used to discuss potential topics for our first Think Tank. We will get back to you on the choice of topics for the Think Tank soon.

Who can attend the By Invitation Only Think Tank?

Board of directors members, advisory board representatives and a selected group of other senior-level executives that are members of HSMAI Europe. The Think Tank will take place in London on Thursday June 13th starting at 11 AM and will last until 3 PM followed by a meeting with our Board of Directors.

The Think Tank is a new activity for us in this format. We will review a topic with the end goal to identify solutions or a path forward for the industry.

Following the board of directors meeting we hosted the leadership Day and here you find the summary from the Leadership day as part of my article. Thank you to everyone that took part in this important day.

HSMAI Europe members have identified four key trends impacting the sector in 2024 and beyond at HSMAI Europe’s exclusive Leadership Day event.

AI for productivity, hyper-personalised HR, responsible travel, and Total Revenue Management culture were pinpointed as future industry game-changers by influential members of the association, including the board of directors, advisory board members, commercial leaders, talent and culture specialists, sustainability and technology experts, the Rising Leader Council plus the Student Council.

Staged on January 17th at the InterContinental London Park Lane, the day before the prestigious HSMAI Europe ROC conference 2024 and the HSMAI Europe Awards 2023 took place, the Leadership Day involved in-depth discussion and debate, with ideas shared and action plans initiated to help the industry tackle challenges and opportunities going forward.

The top four trends were multi-faceted, with many diverse opinions shared, but unanimous in their themes:


AI for productivity

Most members agreed there was reticence and even fear of embracing AI and generative AI. Some had dabbled in content generation and many had used AI for data analysis in revenue management, but most conceded there needed to be more widespread education, knowledge and adoption of AI to fully leverage its capabilities.

One member said: “If you know how to use it, AI will help you; if you don’t, it won’t”, emphasising the need for everyone in the industry to get to grips with how it could improve productivity.

Members agreed AI training was required – for students before entering the industry and hospitality professionals across every hotel or corporate department.

Prompt training was essential to receive a high-quality result, they said, whether creating marketing material and hyper-personalised guest experiences or knowing what to input to get the best data results.For revenue management, using AI to speed-up decision making and accuracy of forecasting was essential, said some, because ultimately it gives owners what they want – a quick profit.

Many leaders flagged up concerns over clean data, and others said the industry needed AI to work harder to create bespoke views.

All agreed AI would not replace humans but would certainly become that “highly useful data analyst in your pocket”.

It was widely accepted that AI could remove the mundane from everyday tasks and become a co-pilot/assistant, and some suggested it could even fill in when there were staff shortages.

Looking at the wider digital landscape, leaders said the industry was moving towards “smarter investment in technology” and stressed the need to develop tech stacks catering to individual business needs, rather than take a one-size-fits all approach.

Hyper-personalised HR

The term ‘hyper-personalisation’ has been overused when referring to the guest experience, but never before has it been used to describe the talent experience.

However, HSMAI Europe members have now coined this phrase, referring to what is required if the industry is to attract and retain talent in a career environment changed forever by the pandemic.

A new talent and culture mindset is required to provide potential hospitality professionals with a proposition that meets their career and lifestyle needs, leaders agreed.

They acknowledged that employees now seek flexible conditions, job personalisation and a clear career path set out, which might even encompass dipping in and out of the sector to acquire new skills – now often known as “the career squiggle”.

An example of hyper-personalisation best practice in HR was provided as food for thought, with the Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA) in the UAE overhauling its Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to include a Lifestyle Credits programme, which emphasises employee wellbeing, flexibility, and inclusivity.

It offers full-time employees with five distinct categories from which they can choose and claim credits:

  • Development Credit to support personal development, covering expenses such as university tuition, schooling, nursery fees, and coaching.
  • Insurance Credit, ensuring employees have access to financial protection, with allowances for health insurance for dependents, home insurance, car insurance, and life insurance.
  • Wellness Credit, which can be used for activities such as personal training, meal plans, hotel stays, and spa visits.
  • Lifestyle Credit covering costs related to travel, petrol expenses, and more; and crucially, in acknowledgment of the evolving work landscape, a Remote Work Credit, covering costs related to remote work, including internet bills, phone bills, workstations, and data roaming.

The programme has been so successful that RAKTDA is looking to roll it out across Ras Al Khaimah’s entire tourism ecosystem, starting with the hospitality sector.

HSMAI Europe leaders were inspired by this example, which not only gives employees flexibility and choice, but makes them feel valued as individuals.

Responsible travel

Leaders highlighted the urgent need to embrace responsible travel, which in the long term, would benefit every stakeholder in the hospitality sector, from guests and talent to owners and communities.

While many hotels had now implemented the basics, from eliminating single-use plastic to monitoring and reducing waste and energy, it was time to take global net-zero goals seriously, putting into place strategies that would deliver impact.

All agreed that guests and the public at large were becoming more demanding, seeking sustainable accommodation providers that gave back to people and planet. Embracing responsible travel meant ensuring destinations were not only better for the ‘visitors’ (guests), but the ‘visited’ (local communities) as a result of their hotel presence.

Leadership Day participants also identified the opportunity to commercialise sustainability, giving guests what they want – the option visit safe and sustainable properties – and marketing it. Demand for safe and ethical hotels would continue to increase, they said, and savvy hospitality companies should capitalise on this.

It was also noted that if hospitality companies are to continue attracting quality talent, proving they are sustainable and responsible was essential, because younger generations are now prioritising ethical employers.

Members stressed how there was no one industry standard for sustainability guidelines and called on HSMAI Europe for its support and guidance in that respect.

The association has already taken steps to address this, having recently launched a Sustainability Guide for Hospitality e-book, packed with tools, tips, and best practices to help travel, tourism and hotel companies make a positive impact on people, planet and profit.

A valuable toolkit for the entire industry, this comprehensive guide, available to download for free on the HSMAI Europe website, steers organisations through a step-by-step process to integrate sustainability initiatives and includes a live worksheet to help their teams get started.

An HSMAI Europe board of directors-led initiative, the e-book, developed by senior hospitality leaders from the association’s expert pan-European membership, includes best industry practices, with the aim of helping companies identify areas where they can make positive environmental, social and economic impact, providing practical examples and solutions to achieve these goals.

Total Revenue Management culture

It’s been said before, and it was said again; creating a Total Revenue Management (TRM) culture is essential to the future survival of all hospitality businesses. It’s a trend that is already penetrating other regions around the world and those taking a 360-degree commercial approach are succeeding, driving higher revenues and profits and therefore satisfying their owners.

Yet hoteliers are still falling into the same traps, said HSMAI members. All too often the focus is on revenue optimising rooms only, rather than every business unit in a hotel, from restaurants to spas to meeting rooms. And departments continue to work in silos, setting their own KPIs in isolation.

The urgent need to create commonality across verticals and for every department to align KPIs to see the big commercial picture was emphasised.

Discussion outcomes

HSMAI Europe members agreed that all four trends they had identified called for organisational re-organisation – change management. New structures must be created to integrate AI, re-think talent acquisition and retention, build sustainability into every facet of the business, and to create a holistic commercial culture for TRM, they said.

It was also suggested that in 2024, every HSMAI Europe Advisory Board should devise a ‘future-fit’ strategy for their respective sector or discipline, identifying how to overcome current and upcoming challenges, as well as opportunities to move forward based on the trends debated at the Leadership Day.

Additional topics on the local /regional meetings agenda will be:

  • Sales with the Sales Leader Forum taking place in several cities
  • Marketing and Branding
  • Budgeting in a changing Landscape
  • What role does a customer loyalty programme play in today’s environment? What about playing the Loyalty game differently? How marketing your loyalty programme is a key in revenue strategy?

As you can see, we will be even more active this year. If you have any ideas you would like to share, please reach out to us.

I would also like to draw your attention to the important articles below:

  1. Let’s talk talent – Wessel Roodenburg by HSMAI Europe Student Counsil 
  2. AI in Hospitality: Predictions and impact in 2024 and beyond by Lighthouse
  3. Powering the Modern Era of Central Reservation Systems by SHR Group
  4. Moving Toward Commercial Strategy by Revenue Analytics
  5. The European hotel industry is celebrating by MKG Consulting 
  6. Google: what are the free and paid solutions for your hotel? by Cendyn

Enjoy the rest of the week!

Ingunn Hofseth

President & CEO

HSMAI Region Europe
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