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Starhotels Chief Commercial Officer on Bottom Up Tech Strategy

Antonio Ducceschi's insights offer a comprehensive guide for hoteliers on thriving in today's competitive hospitality industry by using technology, strategic expansion, and customer-centric approaches, emphasizing the importance of adaptability, strategic acquisitions, partnerships, and a balanced use of data and experience.

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Jordan Hollander in Revenue Management

Last updated March 26, 2024

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In the podcast episode of Hotel Tech Insider, Antonio Ducceschi, the CCO of Starhotels, discusses the importance of proactive technology for hotel growth. He highlights the shift in mindset from reactive to proactive when it comes to implementing new technology in the hospitality industry. Antonio explains that in the past, the approach was more reactive, where hoteliers would see a new technology and try to plug it in without a clear vision of how it would support their growth. However, now there is a more strategic approach in place, where hoteliers have a clear vision of where they want to go and are actively seeking out the right technology to support their goals. Two key areas that Antonio emphasizes as crucial for hotel growth are distribution and revenue management systems. These technologies are essential for maximizing profitability and ensuring that the hotel is reaching its full potential in terms of revenue generation. By implementing these systems, hotels can streamline their operations, optimize pricing strategies, and reach a wider audience of potential guests. Antonio's own career in the hotel industry has been marked by a focus on leveraging technology to drive growth and improve guest experiences. From his early days as a hotel GM to his current role at Starhotels, he has consistently sought out innovative software solutions to enhance operations and drive revenue. One example of this proactive approach is the implementation of a new CRM system at Starhotels, which will unlock opportunities to improve the group's loyalty program. By utilizing technology in this way, Antonio is able to better understand and engage with guests, ultimately leading to increased loyalty and repeat business. Antonio Ducceschi's insights in the podcast shed light on the importance of proactive technology for hotel growth. By taking a strategic approach to implementing new technologies, hoteliers can position themselves for success in an increasingly competitive industry. By focusing on distribution, revenue management, and guest engagement, hotels can drive growth, increase profitability, and enhance the overall guest experience.

 

Key Takeaways from the episode:

  1. Embracing Technology for Growth and Efficiency: Antonio emphasizes the importance of integrating technology into various aspects of hotel management. By utilizing systems like Amadeus for distribution and booking, Ideas for revenue management, Microsoft for CRM, and Cvent for event management, Star Hotels has enhanced its operational efficiency and customer experience.

  2. Adaptability in Business Strategy: Antonio's journey from managing a hotel to overseeing the commercial department of Star Hotels highlights the importance of adaptability. His diverse experiences across different roles and regions provide a model for hoteliers to broaden their skill set and understanding of the industry.

  3. Expansion Through Strategic Acquisitions: Star Hotels' approach to growth, particularly in the post-pandemic era, involves acquiring small properties through leases or management contracts, focusing on the luxury market. This strategy can be a blueprint for other hoteliers looking to expand their footprint.

  4. Leveraging Partnerships and Networks: Antonio's involvement in the MPI Global Trustees Foundation underscores the value of networking and partnerships in the hotel industry. These connections can lead to new opportunities and insights into industry trends.

  5. Prioritizing Customer Experience and Team Efficiency: The emphasis on enhancing customer experiences and improving team efficiency is a central theme. Antonio highlights the use of TrustU for managing guest feedback and aligning marketing strategies with customer preferences.

  6. Proactive Approach to Technology Post-Pandemic: The pandemic has shifted Star Hotels' approach to technology, focusing more on efficiency and additional revenue opportunities. This proactive stance towards technology adaptation can be a lesson for hoteliers in responding to changing market conditions.

  7. Balancing Data with Practical Experience: While data-driven decision making is important, Antonio also stresses the value of common sense and experience. This balance is crucial for making agile decisions in a fast-paced business environment.

Strategic Technology Partnerships Drive Growth at Starhotels

Strategic technology partnerships play a crucial role in driving growth for businesses in the modern era. This is evident in the case of Starhotels, a company that has successfully leveraged key technology vendors to enhance its operations and propel its growth trajectory. In a recent podcast, the CEO of Starhotels, Ducceschi, highlighted the significance of strategic partnerships with technology vendors such as Amadeus, IDeaS, Microsoft, and Cvent in achieving success in the hospitality industry.

One of the key partnerships mentioned by Ducceschi is with Amadeus, a company that handles the distribution, booking engine, and channel management for Starhotels. This partnership has enabled Starhotels to have a solid distribution network, making it easier for potential guests to find and book their properties. In today's digital age, having the right channels available for customers to access and book accommodations is essential for success in the hospitality industry.

Another important partnership for Starhotels is with IDeaS, a revenue management system provider. By implementing this new system, Starhotels has been able to maximize its profitability and optimize its performance. The use of technology in revenue management allows for the processing of vast amounts of information in a short period of time, something that human beings alone cannot achieve. This partnership has enabled Starhotels to stay competitive and drive growth in a highly dynamic market.

Furthermore, the partnership with Microsoft for a new CRM system has allowed Starhotels to enhance its ability to identify opportunities, communicate effectively with customers, and grow its loyalty program. By utilizing technology to streamline customer relationship management, Starhotels can better target their marketing efforts and improve customer retention.

Additionally, the partnership with Cvent in the meeting and event space has provided Starhotels with solutions to enhance visibility, efficiency, and effectiveness in managing events. By listening to market demands and implementing new technologies, Cvent has helped Starhotels stay ahead of the curve and offer superior services to their customers.

These strategic technology partnerships have been instrumental in driving growth for Starhotels. By embracing technology, identifying opportunities for improvement, and building strong relationships with key vendors, Starhotels has been able to enhance its operations, expand its reach, and improve its overall performance in the competitive hospitality industry. The success of Starhotels serves as a testament to the power of strategic technology partnerships in driving growth and success in today's business landscape.

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Developing a Proactive Tech Strategy at Starhotels

In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, technology plays a crucial role in driving growth and success. For Starhotels, the decision to switch to a more proactive tech strategy has been a game-changer, allowing them to stay ahead of the curve and capitalize on new opportunities for growth. By actively seeking out and implementing innovative technologies, Starhotels has been able to streamline operations, enhance customer experiences, and increase revenue.

One key aspect of Starhotels' proactive tech strategy is their willingness to embrace new technologies that solve problems they didn't even know they had. By staying open to new ideas and solutions, they have been able to uncover hidden opportunities for improvement and efficiency. For example, the adoption of platforms like Urbanics has allowed them to monetize unused spaces in their hotels, creating new revenue streams and enhancing the overall guest experience. This proactive approach to technology adoption has not only improved their bottom line but has also set them apart from competitors in the industry.

Starhotels' proactive tech strategy has enabled them to forge strong partnerships with key technology vendors. By working closely with vendors who understand their needs and integrate seamlessly with their existing systems, they have been able to maximize the benefits of new technologies and drive continuous innovation. This collaborative approach to technology partnerships has allowed Starhotels to stay agile and responsive to changing market trends, ensuring they remain competitive in the ever-evolving hospitality industry.

The shift towards a proactive tech strategy has empowered Starhotels to identify new business opportunities and capitalize on them effectively. By leveraging technology to offer luxury services to external clients and tap into niche markets, they have been able to expand their reach and attract new customer segments. This proactive approach to business development has not only driven growth for Starhotels but has also positioned them as a forward-thinking and customer-centric brand in the industry.

Starhotels' proactive tech strategy for growth serves as a valuable lesson for businesses looking to thrive in today's digital age. By embracing technology, seeking out new opportunities, and building strong partnerships with key vendors, companies can drive innovation, enhance their operations, and achieve sustainable growth. The success of Starhotels demonstrates the power of proactive technology adoption in driving business success and staying ahead of the competition.

Thinking About Technology in New and Creative Ways

Efficiency through creative technology solutions is a key component of success in today's rapidly evolving business landscape. The podcast transcript from a representative of Starhotels provides valuable insights into how businesses can leverage technology to streamline operations, drive innovation, and ultimately achieve growth.

The speaker highlights the impact of the pandemic on the hospitality industry, forcing businesses to rethink their traditional ways of operating and find creative solutions to adapt to the new normal. One of the key takeaways from the podcast is the importance of being proactive in identifying opportunities for efficiency and revenue generation. By thinking outside the box and leveraging technology, businesses can not only survive challenging times but also thrive in the face of adversity.

One of the key strategies discussed in the podcast is the utilization of technology to optimize operations and enhance the customer experience. By automating processes, such as booking meetings online or providing automatic replies to inquiries, businesses can save time and resources while improving customer satisfaction. Additionally, the speaker emphasizes the importance of listening to feedback from staff and customers to ensure that technology solutions are effective and meeting the needs of all stakeholders.

The example of Starhotels renting out parking spaces to rental car companies during the pandemic demonstrates the power of creative thinking and leveraging existing resources to generate additional revenue. By identifying a need in the market and finding a mutually beneficial solution, Starhotels was able to adapt to the changing circumstances and create new opportunities for growth.

Antonio emphasizes the importance of collaboration with technology vendors to address specific pain points and drive innovation. By actively engaging with technology partners and communicating their needs and challenges, businesses can ensure that they are leveraging the right tools and solutions to enhance their operations and stay competitive in the market.

Starhotels' proactive tech strategy for growth serves as a valuable lesson for businesses looking to thrive in today's digital age. By embracing technology, seeking out new opportunities, and building strong partnerships with key vendors, companies can drive innovation, enhance their operations, and achieve sustainable growth. The success of Starhotels demonstrates the power of proactive technology adoption in driving business success and staying ahead of the competition.

Set KPIs, Measure Results and Adjust

The podcast episode highlights the importance of setting key performance indicators (KPIs), measuring results, and adjusting strategies accordingly in order to drive business success. The speaker emphasizes the need for businesses to establish clear KPIs upfront, track performance over time, and make adjustments as necessary based on the data and insights gathered.

Setting KPIs allows businesses to define specific goals and objectives that align with their overall business strategy. By identifying key metrics that are important for measuring success, businesses can track their progress and make informed decisions about their operations. In the case of the Starhotels example provided in the podcast, setting KPIs related to response time and conversion rates helped the company improve their performance and generate more business.

Measuring results is essential for evaluating the effectiveness of strategies and initiatives implemented by a business. By tracking key metrics and analyzing data, businesses can gain valuable insights into what is working well and what needs improvement. This data-driven approach enables businesses to make informed decisions and identify areas for optimization and growth.

Adjusting strategies based on the results obtained is crucial for driving continuous improvement and staying competitive in a fast-paced business environment. The speaker acknowledges that sometimes decisions need to be made based on intuition and experience, especially when waiting for all the data and metrics may result in missed opportunities. Having the courage to start, make adjustments along the way, and take calculated risks can lead to innovation and success.

The podcast underscores the importance of setting KPIs, measuring results, and adjusting strategies as key components of a successful business strategy. By adopting a proactive approach to technology adoption and leveraging data-driven insights, businesses can drive growth, enhance their operations, and stay ahead of the competition. The example of Starhotels demonstrates how a focus on KPIs, measurement, and adjustment can lead to tangible business results and long-term success.

Improving Guest Experiences with Technology

Improving customer experience with technology is crucial in today's competitive hospitality industry. The podcast emphasizes the need for hotels to focus on two key areas when it comes to business priorities: the go-to-market strategy and making the life of clients as easy as possible.

In terms of the go-to-market strategy, hotels need to be proactive in identifying customer needs and implementing solutions quickly and efficiently. This involves analyzing every step of the customer journey to see where improvements can be made. Technology plays a crucial role in this aspect, as it can help hotels streamline processes, enhance customer interactions, and ultimately drive revenue growth.

One example mentioned in the podcast is the use of technology to compress images on hotel websites, making it easier for customers to navigate and book rooms quickly. This small change can have a significant impact on the customer experience, as it reduces load times and improves overall usability.

Technology can also be used to improve operational efficiency within hotels. For example, implementing self-check-in kiosks, easy-to-use room service ordering systems, and multilingual interfaces can make the guest experience smoother and more enjoyable. By making it easier for customers to interact with the hotel, businesses can increase customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Technology can also help hotels better understand and manage their online reputation. By using tools to monitor and analyze guest feedback and reviews, hotels can identify areas for improvement and address any issues promptly. This proactive approach to managing reputation can help hotels maintain a positive image and attract more customers in the long run.

The podcast highlights the importance of using technology to improve customer experience in the hospitality industry. By focusing on making the customer journey as seamless as possible and leveraging technology to enhance operations and reputation management, hotels can differentiate themselves in the market, drive revenue growth, and ultimately achieve business success. Embracing technology and adapting to customer preferences creatively is essential for hotels looking to stay competitive and meet the evolving needs of today's guests.

The insights shared by Antonio Ducceschi on the Hotel Tech Insider podcast underscore the transformative power of proactive technology adoption in the hospitality industry. Starhotels' strategic approach to integrating technology into every facet of its operations—from distribution and revenue management to customer relationship management and event planning—illustrates a blueprint for success in an increasingly digital and competitive landscape.

The emphasis on strategic technology partnerships, such as those with Amadeus, IDeaS, Microsoft, and Cvent, highlights the importance of aligning with technology vendors that can deliver tailored solutions to meet specific business needs. These partnerships not only enhance operational efficiency but also empower hotels to navigate the complexities of market dynamics and customer preferences with agility and foresight.

Moreover, Starhotels' focus on improving guest experiences through technology—from streamlining booking processes to personalizing guest interactions—demonstrates a commitment to exceeding customer expectations. This customer-centric approach, coupled with a culture of innovation and adaptability, positions Starhotels as a leader in the hospitality industry.

Antonio's journey from a hotel manager to the Chief Commercial Officer of Starhotels, along with his insights into technology's role in driving hotel growth, serves as a source of inspiration and a guide for other hoteliers. It reinforces the notion that embracing technology, prioritizing customer experience, and adopting a proactive strategy are critical for thriving in today's dynamic business environment.

The lessons shared by Antonio Ducceschi offer valuable perspectives on leveraging technology to enhance operational efficiency, drive revenue growth, and create memorable guest experiences. Starhotels' success story is a testament to the power of strategic technology adoption and the endless possibilities it presents for hotels aiming to achieve sustainable growth and competitiveness in the digital age.

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Jordan Hollander
Jordan is the co-founder of Hotel Tech Report, the hotel industry's app store where millions of professionals discover tech tools to transform their businesses. He was previously on the Global Partnerships team at Starwood Hotels & Resorts. Prior to his work with SPG, Jordan was Director of Business Development at MWT Hospitality and an equity analyst at Wells Capital Management. Jordan received his MBA from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management where he was a Zell Global Entrepreneurship Scholar and a Pritzker Group Venture Fellow.