HITT 2019: Extremes highly welcome!

HITT 2019: Extremes highly welcome!

(May 24, 2019). Figuratively speaking, the area of conflict created by digitisation is located right in the middle of the bright red sunset and the fierce lightning of a thunderstorm that ended the get-together at the 2nd HospitalityInside Think Tank (HITT) in Berlin on Sunday evening. On Monday, on board the seminar ship that floated along the Havel river for eight hours, everything started to flow: the top speakers encouraged the industry to rethink the hotel industry, to let go of old patterns, to experiment and to dare to take extremes. Everyone talked about – successful – examples from all over the world, no matter whether it was about markets, retail, HR or the global categorisation of the industry in the digital world. A lively, intense day full of pragmatism and fun with a flying microphone.
With 50 guests on board, HITT started in Berlin-Spandau, an ideal environment for inspiring discussions and new impulses. The following quotes provide an insight into how broad and colourful the HITT theme titled “Digitalisation: the new value creator” was. All in all, the many jigsaw puzzles were arranged to form a new, relatively stringent perspective and a clear task for the industry: Think out of the box, let go and do it! You have huge potential, you just don’t know it …

That’s why hospitality leaders need to learn from others. The absolute motivation boost came from the retail expert Dr Marc Schumacher. After the participants at last year’s 1st HITT had wished for an impulse generator from the retail sector because they admire this industry’s digital progress, Schumacher turned the tables: “What can hospitality learn from retail? Nothing. – What can retail learn from hospitality? Everything! You [the hoteliers] sell something that cannot be reproduced.” And further: “They are sitting on one of the most valuable assets of the future!” With this, he alluded to the existing physical spaces inside hotels, and to the fact that customers inevitably appear there at some point. This is why hotels will become a much sought-after showroom for other sectors (e.g. fashion) in the future.

The turnaround in your own head
All speakers made it clear that the hotel industry is not aware of its value. And this is probably due to the fact that they themselves only see their own competitive and cost pressure in their micro market. However, digitisation does not attack any micro markets, but destroys deeply entrenched corporate structures. Future value creation is based on looking beyond the end of your nose and from the turnaround in your own head. Recognizing opportunities is the main challenge for managers, e.g. in artificial intelligence. Holger Greif and Nicolas Mayer, the digital and hospitality experts of PwC Zurich, put it drastically: “Managers must be able to deal with AI or they will be replaced by those who can.”

“Out of 10 companies worldwide, only 5 are digitally determined,” added Bill Kanarick – an American digital entrepreneur who transformed a global advertising agency from conservative to digital-innovative and now brings his knowledge to EY Boston as a partner. This comforted the hoteliers on the boat – but only briefly. Because the challenge comes from a completely different side: “The new customer is over-stimulated, chaotic and unstructured.” That’s why he wants to and will be “led” and “seduced” in the future – with tailor-made (personalised) offers and experiences – but in the extreme, please! Only then will he be willing to spend money.

It could look something like this: A sports shoe manufacturer wants to market its new basketball shoe. He rents an empty room and nails a single shelf to the wall. The new sports shoes stand in a row on it. But the board is fastened at an immense height – so high up that only well-trained, high-jumping basketball players can reach them and buy them. Wow! The shop is a huge success, PR is secured, selling the product is a breeze…

Using the power of the youth
How do such ideas come to life? In an open team, in which everyone has his or her role. Catherine Gaudry, Group Head Talent and Transformation at the Scholz & Friends advertising agency in Berlin, appeals to the conservative HR heads of the hotel industry: “Hire challenges! Give more attention to those applicants who have a crazy hobby, e.g. traveling for three years on a tuk-tuk…” She encouraged hoteliers to use the power of the youth and those young-at-heart: “Those staying two to three years provide maximum output. Innovative companies don’t need those who stay for 10 years.”

The 2nd HITT showed the participants ways and possibilities for their own concepts. The pragmatic touch of the day inspired everyone. In the concluding big discussion in the spontaneous chair circle, the microphone flew back and forth – packed a green foam cube. It provided momentum within the group and in the heads of the participants.

As in the previous year, the discussion was highly focused until the very last minute – certainly motivated by the very special spirit of this peacefully gliding solar boat, the windows of which displayed constantly changing landscapes similar to the current digital discussion. For the top managers on board, it was a day of deceleration, accompanied by lots of sunshine until shortly before the end, when a heavy rain shower set in – and the HITT guests returned to the roller coaster ride of life. / map
By next Friday, we will select our 1,500 photos and videos, which will give an impression of this unusual day. More articles about the topics and discussions of the think tank will be published in the next issues of the hospitalityInside magazine.

HospitalityInside would like to thank all participants from Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and the Netherlands, as well as the top-class, internationally experienced speakers for this open-minded exchange, for a day of candor and inspiring impulses!
We would also like to thank the sponsors, namely Sabre Hospitality, Accor, Drees & Sommer and Expo Real, who supported this special event and the content-focused format of the HITT for the second time.

Save the date! The next HITT will take place on June 21/22 in Berlin.
All future updates at www.hitt.world

SELECTED STATEMENTS from the impulse speeches:
• Shopping has been a logistics centre so far.
• In 2022, 25% of US malls will have closed.
• Amazon is not retail.
• Amazon offers 1-click orders, while others look at invoices up to 16 times.
• We are experiencing “The Renaissance of the Tangible”.
• Merchandising is becoming a stage. Products can be experienced in showrooms. People will pay an entry fee to experience these spaces.
• Physical spaces will return. That’s your luck!
• What can hospitality learn from retail? Nothing. – What can retail learn from hospitality? Everything! You [the hoteliers] sell something that cannot be reproduced.
• You sit on the most valuable assets of the future!
• The hotel industry is not willing to pay for talent. They will have to pay fundamentally more – or I will grab your talents.
• Commit to challenges!
• Give more attention to those applicants who have a crazy hobby – e.g. travelling for three years on a tuk-tuk.
• Those staying for two or three years provide maximum output. Innovative companies don’t need those who stay for 10 years.
• The Netflix CEO said: Sleep is our biggest competitor!
• Only 5 out of 10 companies worldwide are digitally determined.
• The new customers are overstimulated, chaotic and unstructured.
• Nobody is invulnerable, nobody is too big to fail.
• A fool with a tool remains a fool
• It is never too late.