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Insights

We draw inspiration from the world around us and we want to share our knowledge with you. Tap into our latest thinking on the issues that matter most in hospitality today and find out what trends are going to shape our industry in the future.

Make it Plausible, Not Probable: Our HITEC Amsterdam Takeaway

On 28-30 March 2017, HFTP held its premiere event in Europe with HITEC Amsterdam – on our home soil! We enjoyed this debut event that hosted over 60 hospitality technology vendors and over a thousand of industry professionals from around the world. The organizers have been delighted with the outcome and they already announced the next European HITEC rendez-vous will be again in Amsterdam, on 11-13 April 2018.

During the event, Novility had the opportunity to demonstrate its products to a wide range of audience, from hoteliers to technology enthusiasts, hospitality students to business consultants, and we received positive feedback that has encouraged us to deliver more and better. In addition, I had the chance to attend a series of interesting keynotes that fueled forward-thinking discussion.

 

 

The session that influenced me the most and induced me to do further research was the closing keynote entitled Scenario Planning: Thinking differently about the future by Woody Wade, a future scenario planning expert and author. To give an overview, Wade demonstrated why it is important to anticipate potential changes in the future business landscape and explored how company leadership can formulate winning strategies to stay competitive in the business terrain now and in the future.

“The only thing that is constant is change.” - Heraclitus

The presentation began with the following quote by Bill Watterson: You know what’s weird? Day by day, nothing seems to change. But pretty soon, everything’s different” and I was already hooked with that kind of an opening. Wade mentioned that top managers aspire to lead for tomorrow’s world. After all, these managers are responsible of ensuring that their businesses are not only successful today, but also will remain competitive and resilient 5 or 10 years from today.

And, this is where it all starts. If you don’t know how the future is going to turn out, how can you plan for it?

Wade explained that undertaking a scenario planning exercise doesn’t mean that one will now successfully predict the future, yet if done correctly, it will provide a better understanding of what could materialize. Variables such as new political situations, new geopolitical tensions, new societal attitudes, new management ideas, new economic situations, new regulations, new customer behavior, new competitors and new technological developments are instances that could significantly affect an organizations life cycle. It was highlighted that with scenario planning, one won’t have completely accurate advance knowledge of the future, but with a response already planned for each of the several possible ways the future could unfold, one will certainly be better prepared for whichever future does begin to materialize. Like the renowned scientist Louis Pasteur once said, “Chance favors the prepared one.”

A compelling example came to mind, which is about a company that executed scenario planning and later succeeded in the business world: Royal Dutch Shell. In the early 1970s when the oil industry was going through an unstable and a volatile period, Shell began to invest in scenario planning because they started to realize that traditional forecasting methods weren’t sufficient to provide them a holistic view of possible future occurrences. Thus, instead of focusing on trying to predict the price of oil, they decided to develop a series of possible future scenarios and then analyze what could happen to the price of oil in each of these different situations.

The magazine Fast Company reports the story as follows:

In one scenario that the company worked on, an accident in Saudi Arabia led to the severing of an oil pipeline, which in turn decreased supply. That created a market reaction that increased oil prices, allowing OPEC nations to pump less oil and make more money. The tale spooked Shells executives enough to make them reexamine their assumptions about oil price and supply. Was OPEC preparing to increase oil prices? What would be the implications if they did? Consequently, when OPEC announced its first oil embargo in 1973, Shell handled the challenges better and faster than the competition. Within two years, Shell moved from being the world's eighth biggest oil company to being the second biggest. Scenario planning had earned its stripes.

“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” – Scott Fitzgerald

It was a unique opportunity to attend the first European HITEC event in Amsterdam and I must admit that I have been particularly inspired by the scenario planning subject and especially about how it approaches the future with a structured methodology. We are all interested in the future because that is where we will spend the rest of our lives and it wouldn’t hurt to be prepared for what could be coming at us.

Next, the Novility team will be at HITEC Toronto on 26-29 June, don’t miss the opportunity to meet us there!

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