Bruno Lanvin, CEO Dmbook Pro, was recently invited to speak to entrepreneurs at the SIE2 conference, held in the beautiful Castelo Branco region of Portugal.
With a global remit, this was not only an excellent opportunity to generate international awareness Dmbook Pro, amongst leading industry professionals, it was also a great opportunity to gain a better understanding of what’s happening in the hospitality sector, on a macro & international level.
A little over a week since returning from this conference, Bruno summarises what this conference was all about, to give you a flavour of what’s happening within the tourism and hospitality sector outside of Ireland and the UK.
1 What was the main goal of the conference?
SI2E is a conference which each year focuses on different industries and themes. Organised by the Portuguese government as a means of showcasing both exciting new innovations as well as funding options for small and micro enterprises, this was a very outward looking event that provided a global view of the hospitality and tourism sector.
We have all been to many conferences and very often the themes and the subjects discussed are along similar lines. This one, however, went for a very different approach and rather than focusing on individual success stories or case study presentations, it focused on the educational aspect of the hospitality industry.
As a result of it educational slant, this conference brought together heads of Department from all of Portugal’s leading hospitality schools and catering colleges, tourism academics from across the length and breadth of the country, as well as industry professionals from some of the country’s leading tourism operators.
2 What can we learn from an event such as this?
1. An internationalised approach to education can help to improve the industry for everyone
Catering, hospitality, hotels, and tourism are all highly practical industries that are in many ways the engine driving the economy. For this reason, the industry is often overlooked when it comes to areas such as learning, up-skilling and innovating.
Why? Firstly, catering has traditionally been very much about hands on, practical, experiential learning. And secondly, because many hotel managers are busy focusing on the day-to-day tasks which are essential to the running of their business, they simply don’t afford themselves the time to look at the bigger picture, in terms of education and global trends.
Thus, the message from this conference was very much about the importance of colleges working together, not just at a strategic, academic, or consultative level, but also on the ground, through student exchange programmes, international student forums, and international project working.
Finally, the conference emphasised the importance of industry bodies, from different countries, working together to develop closer relationships, for the purpose of idea sharing, best practice exploration, innovation generation, and networking.
The role of technology is increasing every year in the hospitality and tourism industries, mirroring what’s happening across every industry sector.
And if there’s one common theme that we can take from the growth of technology, it’s collaboration: yes, increasingly technology is being used to aid collaboration, whether through industry partners or through B2C (hotel to consumer) channels, whereby the hotel sees the consumer as a partner, in order to build engagement.
Though this conference was not focused on technology, and did not explore tech solutions, developments, or innovations, it did was some very pertinent questions, including “how can we innovate more as an industry?” and “how can the hotel sector be seen as a technology and innovation industry?”
The answers to these questions can only be found through increased collaboration, and a new industry wide focus on what the future holds, rather than simply fire-fighting on a day to day basis.
As a rapidly growing Irish start-up operating in the hotel-technology space, being invited to attend a high profile international tourism event such as this one in Portugal, was a great opportunity for Dmbook Pro to increase our profile amongst leading international industry influencers. So, when this opportunity was offered to us, it was one we were honoured to receive and very grateful to accept.
But perhaps our enthusiasm, in some small part, came from our own personal experience: having graduated from a French catering school, we fully appreciate and understand the importance of building and maintaining close relationships with catering schools everywhere, and are delighted to offer any assistance we can in this regard.
And finally, our motivation for starting a tech-enterprise in the hotel space in the first place was simply to help bring technology to the forefront of the hospitality industry: not just in terms of helping hotels to deliver a better guest experience, but to help them become better performing businesses, through improved internal communication processes, better procedures, and a greater understanding of efficiencies.