Hi everyone! We are here at the HSMA eDay in Berlin at the Mercure MOA Hotel With me, Tobias Koehler Thank you for taking the time Tobias Koehler, Group Director Systems & Commerce and member of the board at Ruby Hotels and member of the board for the resort Hotel Technology at HSMA Deutschland e.V. Thank you for taking the time. My first question Who is Tobias Koehler? How did you get where you're at today? Please give us a brief overview of your professional journey so far. Thank you for having me. I am excited to be speaking with you. And great also to have you contributing today at the HSMA eDay Thank you very much. – It's a pleasure. Thank you for inviting us. Who am I? Tobias Koehler, I have been 5, 5 years with Ruby Hotels now and was lucky enough to experience all, well, almost all departments and have been with Ruby since the very first hotel and joined back then more like the 'Swiss army knife' was able to work in marketing after that sales, then revenue management and in between I was also responsible for reservations and we have been growing gradually, we – meaning Ruby Hotels more and more professionals have joined the team, that are much more skilled in their respective fields much more than myself, for example in terms of Revenue Management etc.
Thus I was able to concentrate more and more on my personal key competence which is Hotel Technology. I am responsible for our systems landscape, meaning our tech stack, for about 1,5 years now as well as everything concerning digital commercials as soon as our guest arrives in our booking engine he starts becoming my responsibility so to say we are currently busy automating the processes in the 'backend' even more digitizing the entire enterprise, and the experiences I gained in all the previous departments and roles are helping me tremendously now, because I know very well how our teams work, what their needs are, we are not starting from scratch here especially when speaking of sourcing of new products or new systems I have the possibility to follow a different approach by asking different questions, maybe even better questions sometimes it might not be so helpful, also (laughing) but overall it is helping. (laughter) I have another question: You have been for quite some years now – I was lucky enough to be working with you myself during the past years – you are volunteering in the professional bodies of HSMA Deutschland e.V.
Previously you have been actively involved in the area of distribution, marketing and eCommerce and just recently you added the area of 'Technology' within HSMA Could you explain to us what is this area about and what are its objectives? Absolutely. Mainly I started working within HSMA because I enjoy it a lot to share knowledge with each other to bring those people together who enjoy exchanging ideas with each other who enjoy bringing each other to the next level who would like to inform themselves and to learn and develop themselves In line with this role I was initially responsible for matters regarding marketing and eCommerce etc. Now – since I also changed my focus within my role at Ruby to focus on technology exclusively – we realized within HSMA as well, that there is a great demand for this area, the area of 'technology' – because at every barcamp, at each HSMA eDay, the hotel's tech stack is being discussed our objective within this area of technology, in our expert circle, is to aggregate this knowledge and similar to what we've heard from Heiko (Siebert) today from the Revenue Management expert circle, the guidelines regarding Revenue Management Systems they have created and published, we will also try for the area of technology and systems to support our members and colleagues – In terms of guidance and recommended actions? – Yes, correct.
From an early stage on providing support and guidance providing help by for instance answering 'How to approach procurement?' 'How to set up a RFP process?', – How to procure the right product? – Not somebody is buying from me, let's say a meeting room but I as a hotelier need a product What are the right steps to take? Firstly I need to understand my own requirements and criteria. What do I want actually? How to approach this?
How to find out? To minor the risk of being distracted by the big, shiny marketing bling bling activities of suppliers and to be able to concentrate rather on ones very own needs and then ist is totally okay to benefit from the bonuses and to start engaging with these new shiny products and special extras But if basic pre-conditions are not given, that usually turns out to be very difficult.
I do understand this very well. Education and transparency are incredibly important and your work does add great value to our industry Speaking of systems and hotel technology. What are the biggest challenges for hotels when it comes to technology today? Yes, that is difficult to evaluate for me personally, because I don't know all of the various hotels. Naturally I am speaking to many about this, and doing so I realized it is in general and partially most of them are not having a basic understanding there is an understanding about that we do need technology that we need to automate some processes to have more time to use for the guests to provide are more personal service, to avoid repetitive tasks the challenges I do see though, are mostly sourced in problems of capacity. Meaning that these technology questions end up often somewhere with the marketing team because that's 'the ones being busy in the internet, and that's where everything happens that's digital, please take care about the procurement of the new pms system' – 'Okay.' And then the marketing team is facing this task a and most of the times does not even any spare time to spend on such extra tasks starts Google searching for something thinking 'Yeah, that doesn't look too bad, that supplier.
And there's another one..' ..we'll invite them and then we'll make a decision.'' But that's how the needs of the enterprise are often poorly considered the procurement process and decision is often not aligned with the brand for example a five star luxury hotel should maybe not provide their guest with a digital self check-in solution only Sure, who wants to do so, should do so. To enable some of the guests to have a more lean check-in experience, for sure, but I believe the five star luxury guest expects a bit more service than that especially when looking at the leisure segment to make this distinction and to identify these varying needs for the own hotel that's sometimes a problem and is not done well also simply speaking of internal communication because this idea of this carriage – as it was shown in Wilko's (Wilhelm K.
Weber) presentation earlier 'We don't have any time! We need to move this carriage with the square wheels!' And there is somebody suggesting the carriage with the round wheels, who is being ignored I believe some hotels are having this very challenge and that's where we want to try to support and help via for example providing check lists, 'How to approach this?', 'How to buy in team members within my organization to support this?' 'How to identify these Early Adopters and Innovators in my team?' 'How to win their passion for such a project, procurement process etc.?' To, together with them, to acquire a product in an iterative manner, maybe even developing a product themselves Yes, that sounds interesting. And for everyone being interested in taking part in this initiative, in contributing to it and wanting to know more about it, probably will find more on www.hsma.de? What would you recommend? Where are the entry points? Whom to contact? Absolutely. Please contact us. I'd be very pleased to include many tech affine and also less tech affine people who want to work on this together with myself and together with others want to curate this topic and are eager to share knowledge and expertise and are also passionate about learning new things – I don't want to position myself as like I am knowing everything but rather I also want to learn and benefit from the expertise and knowledge of others I'd be very happy if we'd start an exchange and open discussion, similar to the other HSMA expert circles a regular exchange amongst experts meeting – I don't know – monthly, quarterly come together in calls, or meet personally as well to discuss the one or other topic in detail I'd love to have primarily hoteliers joining this round because I believe we hoteliers have different topics and views we can exchange, but of course a successful exchange is not possible without suppliers, who are selling exactly the products we are discussing about and who know exactly how they are able to work best that's equally interesting to us hoteliers we want an easier life for all of us.
What is the best set up for a RFP, to receive feedback as fast as possible from the suppliers? -Yes, great! HSMA Deutschland e.V. is the ideal platform for this. I am wishing you lots of success and look forward to continuing our partnership. And now I'd say it's time for the after drinks. – Exactly! – Thank you, Tobias. – Thank you..